Friday 28 June 2013

Little Ouse Moorings Thursday 28 June 2013

Last night it rained, I can handle that rain at night. I may have mentioned yesterday that we were moored in this very spot, just behind a Black Price Narrowboat just a few nights ago. It turned out it was the same Black Prince boat with the same people onboard.

10 am and we were off through gin clear water back through ElyDSCF2534 where there were lots of vacant moorings, but we weren’t stopping. Once through the town there were over 200 geese in the river. Most were Canada but one of them was brown and white, not black and white. Also there was a Barnacle goose mixing happily with them.DSCF2535 At the rowing club I noticed that the boats were fitted with outrigger floats, I take it these are to stop novices falling over.DSCF2536It was also along here that we saw only our second family of Grebes with the babies on her back and dad turning up with a fish. We saw a lot of them nesting earlier and lots of them appear to be mating again now. DSCF2538 We met quite a few boats as we made our way along the 10 mile bank and 3 hours later we were turning into The Little Ouse.

No sooner had we loaded the car and set off home it started to rain, still had stayed dry for the boating bit of the journey.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Golds Mere moorings Popes Corner Wed 26 June 2013

As we were moored at Hemingford Grey we went to the Cock for dinner, they also have a branch in Ely, The Boat House. When we returned to the boat this is the sight that greeted us. Timed to the minute, good job we didn’t stop for pudding.DSCF2513

For some reason we laid a bit late this morning and it was 11 am. before we set off.  We didn’t rush away as there was a bit of traffic coming down the river, including the St Johns  trip boatDSCF2518 and we would only have ended up queuing on the lock landing. We arrived at the first lock just as two boats were about to come in as the downstream boats had just left. By the time we entered the lock there was another boat coming down behind us who we waited for, plenty of room to share.

Well come on, be honest now. Where would you navigate?DSCF2523

The St johns boat was moored by the Dolphin Hotel in St Ives but the moorings behind the hotel were almost empty. When we arrived at St Ives lock the chap we had shared with previously was about to turn it, I dropped Diana off to help and then pulled back into the river, as I did I spotted this mother duck brooding her very young chicks.DSCF2524 Passing the Old Ferry Boat at Holywell the recently reopened moorings were completely full at lunch time, however there was only one boat at the Pike and Eel. Why does this happen when we don’t want to stop there.

We had a short delay at Hermitage Lock while a Narrowboat locked up, it turned out to be Carpe Diem who we use to moor next to at Floods Ferry, so we were pleased to make use of the new floating moorings.

We had a good run along the Old West River, the weed is growing but its not to bad yet. It took us exactly 3 hours to get from Hermitage Lock to Golds Mere moorings at Popes corner. We are moored in exactly the same spot as 5 nights ago on the bendy bit, we are even right behind a Black Prince hire Narrowboat as we were last time.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Hemingford Grey Tue 25 June 2013

Yesterday evening we walked up to Barford Old Mill lock island. The old lock chamber is still in good condition, but what struck me as unusual was that the walls are scalloped at the water line but straight at ground level, I have seen locks with scalloped walls before, but in all cases the scallops have gone from top to bottom.Sorry I didn’t have a camera with me.

Last night was bright moon light but quite cool, like 3° C. I tried for a photo but this is the best I could manage with the reflection in the river.DSCF2479 This morning we were away at 10 am. heading downstream. We met a surprising number of boat during the day and a lot more of the moorings were occupied, it makes you wonder where they came from.

The second lock is well tucked in to the right going downstream and the lock moorings are actually inline with the edge of the weir, so its quite a dogleg to get in.DSCF2481

This is the lock with the weak bridge over the weir, it also has a couple of plaques on it. One for when it was built 1972, DSCF2461one saying that the old Staunch was near by.DSCF2461b The final one is commemorating  Herbert Weatherhead as chairman of The Great Ouse Restoration SocietyDSCF2482Just below the lock and weir looking over to the left hand bank there looks to be what is part of the old Staunch.DSCF2485 

Shortly before we reached Eton Socon there were about 300 yard of derelict moorings, these look as if they are constructed from steel farm gates and with a little work would be very usable.DSCF2491

In St Neots is probably the most photographed boat in the town with its flowing roof, Last time we came this way it looked a bit grim, but now its in full flower.DSCF2492

I am very pleased to report that St Neots guillotine gate now runs as smooth as a sowing machine, last time we came up here it banged and rattled making the whole concrete lock side vibrate as it juddered up so I suspect the EA have had the suppliers back to sort it out. All the EA need to do now is a bit of gardening so you know which way to go to actually get to the lock.The first time we came this way we missed it and headed down to the weir. DSCF2494 At Brampton lock a Narrowboat coming upstream came straight across in front of the weir discharge and didn’t follow the navigation look round to their left. We waved for them to stop, but they just kept coming. When they arrived at the lock a said they were lucky not to get stuck when the chap told me all the locals go straight across and not round the loop, I tried to find out what draught he was but he didn’t seem to know. When we left the lock we went the long way round the loop.

I thought I would just post this picture of a fellow blogger, its the first time our physical paths have crossed.DSCF2495

When we arrived at Huntington the shed on a barge was working on the bridge with a scaffolding erected between the foot bridge and the old road bridge, the boat used to push it looked quite a brut as well.

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We did look to see if we could find a water point in Huntington but the only thing visible was a push button tap suitable for filling a bucket if your thumb didn’t go to sleep first, no way to fit a hose.

We were making good progress until the last lock of the day, Houghton. Diana was just closing the bottom gate when she spotted a day boat coming up the river, so she opened up again. It was 3 young Chinese couples out for the day. We closed up behind them and two of the lads trotted up with a windlass, we pointed out that end was done, Next where was the key to work the guillotine gate, are its in the ignition, We open the box with our key and they work up. As they were coming out bang and they lose a fender, so they come along side us to retrieve it, very politely I must say. The problem was the speed or lack of it he walked the length of the lock, crossed the gates, back the other side to collected the fender and retraced his steps just as slowly. All we had to do then was get them on their way in the right direction. Probably the best part of half an hour gone.

On the strength of this we decided to stop at Hemingford Grey for the night, when we came up yesterday it was empty, today there were three Narrowboats and seven cruisers when we arrived. We moored on the the town quay using our floating wheelbarrow wheels to keep the cabin side off the concrete edging.
Since we have been here there have been numerous youngDSCF2502 people rowing up and down the river, I wish I had been that good at their age, I bet some are only 8 or 9.

Monday 24 June 2013

Great Barford Mon 24 June 2013

Last night dinner was taken at the Welcome Chinese Restaurant  Sunday to Thursday nights they do an all you can eat buffet for £19-50 a head. It is the first Chinese restaurant that I have been to where they give you a bowl to eat your meal out of, so much better if you are using chopsticks.

This morning we were away at 10 30 after a walk round the market and a visit to the bank. We just pulled out of the moorings as another Narrowboat arrive to take our place.

Just below Hemingford Lock there is a shoal running out from the landing stage to almost mid stream. Last time we came this way we grounded on it as it was unmarked, now they have put a row of green buoys ending with a red. You could well think you should navigate between the red and green, there is room, but you would be wrong and hard aground.DSCF2440

Every time we have come this way in the past there has been a sign warning about rowing ahead and we have never seen a  boat until today.DSCF2442

In the next reach a pair of Cormorants were drying off following a dip. Birds are so much easier to photograph when they sit still.


For some reason they warn you about hire craft  at Houghton Lock they warn you of “Hire Craft” It is the only sign I have ever seen like it.DSCF2446

Just before Huntington we caught up with a shed on a barge being pushed up the river, I suspect they were going to be working on the bridge as there were already divers working there.

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The flood defence work in all the front gardens along the river front at Godmanchester is really looking good now with all the grass growing and things looking quite established. 
As we approached the loop at Brampton Lock I could see the lock gates were open and a cruiser sitting in the entrance waiting to come out and when I got round to the mouth of the lock they were still there so no easy drive into the lock.

I spotted a Buzzard flying over the river with something dangling from his talons, unfortunately it doesn’t show up to well in this photo, he wouldn’t keep still!DSCF2456Unlike the dozens of geese we saw with their offspring forming large rafts on the river.DSCF2453    

We had planned to stop for the night at St Neots and then head back downstream in the morning, however the “Slow Cooker” still had a hour with tonight's dinner in it so we decided as the weather was getting better to push on. There is only one mooring after St Neots and that is just above Eaton Socon Lock so it would have to be Great Barford, only 6 miles, O and two locks.

The span of the bridge over the weir at Roxton Lock is very flat, in fact it looks as if it dips in the middle, it is also very slender. There is a notice at the end saying “Maximum of 5 persons on the bridge at one time”DSCF2459 When we arrived at Great Barford it was just on ten past seven, the wind had died down and the water was flat. There was not another boat to be seen so we could pick our mooring for the nigh.DSCF2466 As we were low on water it was the bit closest to the tap. While the tank was filling I nipped into the pub and returned with 2 pints of bitter which we enjoyed with our meal.

Our after diner entertainment was courteously of a group of young people camping nearby who were having several canoe races from the bridge to the lock. There were lots of shouts of “in out” but not many paddles were in time with the calls.DSCF2471

Sunday 23 June 2013

St Ives Sunday 23 June 2013

I woke this morning to the sound of the cuckoo, there are a lot worse things to wakeup to, like the sound of the rook who took over from him.

It was still a bit windy, 20mph and we set off at twenty to ten, the boat behind leaving a little bit earlier. We met a few boat between the Lazy otter and Hermitage lock, plus pulling over to let a couple of cruisers pass.

We passed our first fishing match of the season, if the cars had been much closer they would have been boats.DSCF2415We were followed by Little Terns trying to catch fish in our wake, we only saw one successful dive resulting in a small fish. DSCF2429

The most signets we have seen this year up to today was 4, this pair had managed 7.DSCF2421

The Oystercatchers were also on good form swooping around.DSCF2418 

When we arrived at Hermitage Lock the two cruisers that had passed earlier were still waiting to go up as there was a cruiser coming down. By now another cruiser had caught us up, they had only just bought the boat and yesterday was their first time afloat, they squeezed in the lock behind us. While we were waiting an EA gent came down to check both our licenses, he had visited the previous pair as well.
There is now a nice new landing stage above the lock for boats coming down to wait on.DSCF2434 The boat that we had shared with overtook us on the tidal stretch as I expected, but when we got to Brownshill the two boats ahead or us were just entering the lock and our partner was waiting on another brand new landing stage.DSCF2435  I came in slowly behind him, but the cross wind and water flow from the weir meant I ended up laying against the two uprights and no where near the landing stage. I was happy to just sit there but slowly the boat came round by herself and Diana was able to get off the bow and make fast. As you can see the landing stage is about 60 feet long, OK for two cruisers but a bit short for a cruiser and Narrowboat. The cruiser entered the lock first, my heart was in my mouth, last time I shared this lock I went forward and touched the boat ahead, The row that followed really spoilt my holiday. I went to put the stern rope round the first bollard to hold back on, No chance, EA have put a “Safety Fence” on top of it so you can’t get a rope over it, so it was centre rope back to the next one to make sure we didn’t drift forwards.

We passed the Pike and Eel with all their moorings empty, what a shame we had eaten dinner on the Old West, we could have stopped for Sunday Lunch.DSCF2436 Passing The Old Ferry Boat Inn at Holywell it was good to see that the “No Mooring” have been removed, The sign for the obstruction is also gone, so hopefully that has been removed as well.
We approached St Ives lock to see our locking partners disappearing into the lock and then the gate going down, obviously the new boaters had not looked back before closing it. Diana walked up just as they drew the top paddles but we didn’t say anything.
We decided to moor in St Ives, We knew the bank side moorings inside the basin behind the hotel were shallow so decided to try The Waits, but they were full, so we backtracked to the basin and went in managing to get within 2 foot of the bank, however the hotel side is piled and there is a straight section about 65 foot long where at least at one end it was deeper. Also the basin at this point is about 60 foot wide, so I turned round and we are now moored in front of the bedrooms of the hotel. DSCF2439

Saturday 22 June 2013

Golds Mere EA Mooring Saturday 22 June 2013

We decided not to draw forward on the moorings yesterday afternoon, this left 100ft. of vacant moorings for anyone else that may have turned up and sure enough late in the afternoon two day cruisers arrived who managed to commandeer the whole 100 ft by the way they spaced themselves out.DSCF2387 The 40ft Narrowboat that arrived at 7pm had to breast on the outside of us, not ideal with the differences in length. When we returned to Harnser, after eating in the pub, the two cruisers had left and it wasn’t long after this that the occupants of the Narrowboat returned to head back to Isleham Marina as well.DSCF2389 It was a lovely evening and we spent sometime talking to 4 generations of the same family who were enjoying a drink beside the river.

Overnight we had rain and also the wind picked up considerably, but it was fine and overcast when we set off at 0945 hrs. At Isleham lock we dropped off a Life-ring that we had picked up on our last outing at Prickwillow, I don’t expect he thought he would see that again.

When we came upstream both bottom gates of the lock were wide open, last time the offside one wouldn’t go right back, when we came through today the offside was playing up again.DSCF2392 While we were waiting at the lock it started to drizzle, as you can see Diana had already put her coat on and I nipped below for mine. Just after leaving the lock we spotted what I guess would be a party of twitches over at the back of the flood bank,DSCF2395 I hope they had very good coats on because minutes latter it started throwing it down.

It wasn’t long before the sun was out again and we had some blue showing in the sky, we passed the family of Egyptian Geese again and this time I got a better photo.DSCF2396

We reached the junction of the Lark and the Great Ouse, Diana indicated that I should hold back because there was a Narrowboat heading downstream, behind him was a cruiser. I was having a lot of problem holding position stopped on the junction due to the wind blowing straight down the Gt Ouse at 20 mph I was almost onto the mud in the junction when said cruiser turned right into the junction, if he had signalled I could have gone out right after the Narrowboat had passed. The river is dead straight here for over 2 miles and needless to say these were the only boats in sight.

We pulled over on the EA Diamond 44 for lunch, there was no chance eating at the helm in this wind. There is a notice warning you that cows graze the bank, it doesn’t warn you they are likely to lick you to death. I have never come across such friendly cows before, the white one just loved to be scratched under her chin and on her forehead.

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After lunch we left the mooring heading towards Ely, the next boat I met after meeting the two at the junction was right at Queen Adelaide rail bridge. On the canals you always reckon to meet in bridge holes but on open rivers?DSCF2411

As expected Ely was busy not only with extra boats from the Cam but also there is a big flower festival on at the Cathedral, even the cruisers were moored two abreast. We carried on through the town and down to Popes Corner where we turned onto the Old West River. The Fish and Duck still looks very empty, I am not sure where they will attract the customers from unless they are undercutting other marinas in the area.

So far this week we have seen lots of Swans but very few Signets, one pair had four but most that we have seen have only had one or two, so it looks as if they might have had a bad season. The other thing that has been lacking is Grebe chicks, we saw lots of nests earlier but only 2 chicks, we however seen several pairs mating which is late in the season, so they may have lost their first brood.

Just as we approached the railway bridge on the Old West we were greeted with four engines crossing, DSCF2413once under the bridge we just managed to squeeze in between 2 other Narrowboats on Golds Mere EA Moorings to moor for the night.