Wednesday 24 July 2013

Little Ouse Moorings Wed 24 July 2013

Not much to report as we only went about 2 miles form where we moored last night, up Brandon Creek passed the moorings to wind and then back down, stopping to fill with 135 lt of diesel to replace what we had used over the passed two and a half weeks  doing 106 hours running time.
We unloaded the boat into the car and then I carried on down to our mooring spot while Diana moved the car down.

We are now back in sunny Suffolk for a bit.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Brandon Bank EA Moorings Tuesday 23 July 2013

Last night was a lovely evening as the sun went down we didn’t get a colourful sky but we did get this. Even then you could sense the rain in the air.DSCF3008

The rain woke us at quarter to four this morning, so it was a case of getting up, removing all the fly screens and closing all the doors and hatches. The sky was bright with almost constant lightning but I didn’t hear any thunder. It rained until 11 AM so we waited until then before moving as we are in no hurry. Once it stopped we said goodbye to the boat behind and set off to Brandon, the head of navigation.

On our way upstream we were to see lots of Harriers, I think they were Marsh Harriers as they looked very dark all over.


The insect repellent we have seems to work quite well and I only got bitten once by the numerous Horseflies in the area and that was on my foot by the sandal strap, a spot missed by the repellent.

As we approached Brandon Railway bridge I spotted a life ring in the water, good job we were going this way as it was trailing a long line. Diana hooked it out from the bows so the rope was recovered long before getting near the prop. We had both guest where it came from and this was confirmed as it had “Brandon Lock EA” written on the side. When we arrived at Brandon I backed into the lock and put it in its rightful place. This lock is to short for us to pass through, DSCF3022 if only the EA had but the bottom gates at the end of the chamber when they rebuilt it it would have made a great difference, allowing lots more boat to go up above Brandon.DSCF3020 As you can see we are well inside the chamber but because of the positing the gate are hung we are not in the lock and it wouldn’t have cost a penny more.

We stopped at the visitor moorings below the lock for lunch, again these have been vandalised with the name board being ripped down and is probably in the river somewhere. I am glad we didn’t come down last night to overnight here.

The run down stream went well, there was an interesting structure in the water just below the Cut Off Channel sluice. It looks like a BMX ramp,DSCF3015 so I can only guess they have been somersaulting into the river.

Last time we came this way this poor old fisherman wasn’t feeling quite so happy, I am pleased they have done something to cheer him up.DSCF3040 The only thing that has marred the trip up here has been the almost continuous noise from the jets roaring overhead.DSCF3018 When we reached the junction of the Little Ouse and the Great Ouse we turned left towards Ely. The first EA moorings by the pub were full so we continued on to Brandon Bank EA Moorings by the layby,  there were two cruisers here already but we managed to get half on the end using the stern and centre rope, the bows are beside the reeds.

Last time we were this way some dumb dumb had managed to burn the end of one of the wooden tables by having a disposable BBQ on it. This time they have managed to smash the top of one in half, I am sure it wasn’t the weight of their dinner or even the drink that did this, but maybe after the drink was consumed.DSCF3043

Monday 22 July 2013

Stop Lock Brandon Creek Mon 22 July 2013

This morning when we woke up we found summer had come back with bright sunshine.

Work is really moving on at the Pumping Museum with the shell of the new building up on a steel frame.DSCF2987 I was surprised to find that the Swallows or Martins were still nesting round the back on the museum.DSCF2994

We got under way at quarter to eleven and as we passed Toms Hole farm moorings I was pleased to see the two cruisers still there, they didn’t go home to their marinas as soon as we passed yesterday afternoon.

By mid day it was getting warm so we decided to stop for a nice cool pint at The Swan, Littleport. But guess what, they don’t open on a Monday so it was a bottle of Badger instead. We saw a few boats about, but the most we saw was a swarm of EA weed cutting boats, three steaming along the river as if on a mission and two working at cutting out the fishing swims.

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At The Ship we turned down the little Ouse passing our moorings. There was probably more flow on this river than any other we have been on in the passed couple of weeks. One of the houses on the river bank at Little Ouse now supports some interesting basket work.DSCF3005 We went up river as far as the GOBA moorings at StopLock, which is rather a strange name as it is nowhere near the old staunch.
When we arrived at the moorings there were already two Narrowboats there so we just managed to get our stern on the official mooring area and the bows a bit upstream. The boater behind us saved me a lot of work by offering the use of his BBQ when he had finished cooking to save me lighting ours.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Prickwillow Sunday 21 July 2013

Last nights mooring was really quite, you don’t even get the dawn chorus, just peace. The water is the clearest we have come across anywhere, just like a fish tank.DSCF2975

This morning was very overcast with very slight drizzle, we were away at half nine hoping the weather would pick up, but to was three before the sun got out and the cloud cleared.

The reeds are growing in on both sides of the channel but the water is clear and quite deep, but progress is still slow.DSCF2977

The National Trust have again topped up the bank and seeded it with grass, I don’t know if they do this every year.DSCF2980

We stopped for water by Upware Lock  before heading back down the Cam. As we passed the Fish and Duck they were busy ether loading or unloading a trailer full of rowing boats, as the trailer was full but with nothing tied down I am not sure which. We pulled in at Ely just under downstream of the road bridge for lunch and a trip to “Tesco”.

With Tesco out of the way I did an oil change which was a few hours overdue, we have done more hours this trip than I realised. As we made our way through Ely it was warming up, there were several vacant mooring spots both near The Cutter and the park. The band was going great guns in the band stand and a littleDSCF2984 further on lots of the cycle floats were out, today most that we saw were wearing lifejackets.DSCF2985 The self pumpout in Ely is now working well and the black tank was soon empty and rinsed with 6 buckets of best Ouse river water. The Moorings at Adelaide rail bridge were full, but we don’t fancy that much as its right by the railway and the road. There was space at Diamonds 44 but again right beside the railway line so it was down the Lark to check Tom Holes moorings, unfortunately there were already 2 cruisers there so we continued into Prickwillow where the first moorings were completely empty. So that’s us sorted for the night.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Wicken Fen Saturday 20 July 2013

Last night true to form as it got dark nearly all the cruises left, we were the only boat left on the GOBA moorings and only a couple were left in front of the pub.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday lunch time it was 28°C today it was 18° with full cloud cover until late afternoon.

We left the moorings about twenty to ten and made our way downstream arriving at Brownshill Staunch just as a Narrowboat and cruiser were locking down, so we had bit of a wait. Just as we were going in the cruiser we had shared St Ives lock with last night arrived and came in behind us.
The old flat that has been high and dry for a few years now has just received a coat of paint and is looking much smarter.DSCF2945

The tidal section of the Ouse was very low with the tiniest of flow coming over the weir.  DSCF2948 The level was so low that the EA have put extra buoys down at Hermitage lock and notices warning you to keep left. TheDSCF2949 foundations of the old railway bridge were quite exposed as were the bottoms of the banks.DSCF2947


The Old West was much better than I expected with the level down a few inches. We only dropped about 12” in Hermitage lock. I was expecting lots of weed but we didn’t encounter any problems.
The highlight was to meet this lovely little steam boat burning coal near Halfpenny Bridge, he even gave me a toot on his whistle.DSCF2964 At Popes Corner where we turned up the Cam there are now two Barges sitting on the hard with nice black bottoms.DSCF2966 We went up the Cam as far as Upware, all the moorings outside the Five Miles from Anywhere were full, but we hadn’t planned on stopping there so it didn’t matter. We turned left through Upware Lock onto Reach Lode and then left again up Wicken Fen to the top where we winded and moored for the night. There was a Narrowboat and cruiser here already who we have seen several times over the passed two weeks and we have moored just in front of them.

Today has been a good day for birds. The last photo of the tern was taken just as it came out of the water after an unsuccessful dive for a fish.       

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Friday 19 July 2013

Holywell GOBA Moorings Friday 19 July 2013

Yesterday evening we followed the “Heron” trail around the pits. Not a walk I would recommend,  the first third is on a gravel road, the next a tarmac road and the final third across a quarry carpark. You did get the odd sighting of the lake but the most common sighting was dog muck.

When I went to the loo at 6 AM this morning we had a good list to Port, so I put my shorts on and loosened the mooring ropes and managed to slide us off the gravel edge, the water had dropped quite a bit overnight.DSCF2721 I think this is due to Anglia Water drawing off about a couple of miles downstream. You can see how low it had dropped when we reached Offord.DSCF2929

We were on the move just before 8 AM and it was already 21°C, Diana wanted to have a look round Offord but the only mooring below the lock was taken, so the next port of call was Brampton Mill. We moored on the GOBA moorings and walked round for a look at the Mill and of course we had to check the inside as well.DSCF2931 The menu was not as expensive as I expected and I must say they keep a very good drop of Doombar Beer.
Back on the boat and it was down to Godmanchester lock where we had to wait for the St Johns boat to come up.
Work is pushing on at this lock now they have the tree down. Not only is there a container on site but also a Portaloo. From talkingDSCF2932 to people it seems they are going to rebuild the wall that collapsed about 5 years ago and re instate the moorings. Our next stop was Houghton at the moorings of The Three Jolly Butchers. As it was moorings for patrons only we had to go and buy moor beer, they also had Doombar, but I think the Mill was better. We then wandered round the village, The Mill is a NT property so is only open a few days a week, today wasn’t one of them. The kids were having a great time bombing off the bridge, but they kept well clear of the boats. We wandered back to the boat and set off again. I like to moor right by the lock on the old lock landing which is right angles to the lock, the other one is too high and risks rubbing the cabin sides. As I approached a lad without looking behind him did a back flip into the water, Diana shouted, I went full astern and the lad climbed out. The did apologise to me and with him facing away from  the I didn’t expect him to jump, his friends couldn’t understand why he didn’t see us, but he was relaxed with his friends and not looking the right way.
While we were waiting for the lock 2 cruisers and a Narrowboat called Honesty came up who turned out to be a follower of this blog. It was nice to meet you both. There was already another Narrowboat waiting to go down but as they were a bit longer than us I went first and pulled into the layby, then a cruiser came along and we fitted him in at the back with his bows between us.

Both these boats pulled over at Hemingford Grey so we continued alone through the next lock. While we were waiting at St Ives lock another cruiser joined us, he offered to go first and tuck in the layby, but this one is about 65foot long so tons of room for me. I was in, line out and waiting before he had released his mooring lines, of course he didn’t have a key or windlass to hand, but Diana had done it all anyway, so once through he was away.

We planned to moor on the Green at Holywell and all was looking good, a cruiser departed as we were approaching, but by the time we got there a hire boat had slipped into the mooring, so we have dropped down to the GOBA moorings for the night.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Paxton Pits Thursday 18 July 2013

We were away at 7-30 AM , it was debatable which way we were going, we considered going back to Kempston to get in those last few yards that we failed to do as I didn’t actually run aground. In the end we decided that was silly and carried on down stream. I shot a piece of video of Castle Mill Lock filling to show the turbulence .

Castle Mill Lock filling

You can see the Penstocks (side paddles) in this photograph. Left is to fill and right to empty.DSCF2898 This photograph shows the down stream buoys that indicate where the shoal is, except it comes well past the line. Boats going upstream are instructed to stop at the bottom of the lock landing to allow boats coming down to clear the lock and shoal.DSCF2899 A short way downstream is Castle Mill Viaduct that takes the A421 over the river. Note the water line on the pillars.DSCF2901

Our next stop was behind Gt Barford Mill island, we had planned to stop here last night. The reason for the stop was I wanted to photograph the old lock. You may recall last time I visited I didn’t have a camera with me. I thought that the lock was unusual as the top edge of the lock is straight but the bottom is a series of concaves with what looks to have been a balk of timber where each concave meets. I don’t know of another lock of this construction. Maybe it should be a listed structure.DSCF2903 Moored behind the island we found Stewart and Angie on NB Corib who we had moored against at Paxton Pits last Saturday so of course we stopped a bit.
The next obstacle was Gt Barford bridge, lots of boats hit the down stream arch. DSCF8605 Its not at right angles to the river so required getting over to the left and coming back to centre as you pass through, optically its challenging as the upstream side of the arch in much larger than the down stream side and on top of that the up stream arch is slightly larger, so I went through the wrong one.

At Little Barford there is a rather strange bridge crossing a side channel. I am in two minds as to if its some sort of lift bridge, or some bit of machinery that has been pressed into service as a bridge.DSCF2909

We stopped at St Neots to take on water, there were only 2 boats on the park and one on the pontoons so very quiet again, of course the youngsters were swimming from the pontoon as well as any other vantage point they could find, but none were causing problems.

We carried on downstream, until now water flows have been at the lowest we have experienced, however when we passed the end of St Neots weir stream there was a good flow coming out, I don’t know where it was coming from unless it was a reservoir as there was hardly anything going over Eaton Socon. We planned to stop at Paxton Pits and we were in luck with the mooring vacant, we had not been here long when a cruiser tucked in behind us for the night.

The moorings are opposite the East Coast railway line and this afternoon the trains are averaging 20 per hour, thank goodness its less at night.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Goldington GOBA mooring Wednesday 17 July 2013

After filling with water we were away at 7 30 AM this morning, It was a busy day on the river, we met one boat just above Gt Barford who told me all my locks were ready and he was right, we didn’t turn one all the way to the head of navigation. The second boat we met just as they left Bedford lock.

When we set off it was already 20°C, I don’t know what it is now as we had to lay the sensor down to get under the bridges at Bedford.

For those that have heard me refer to my Bimini her is a photo of it, I know its not traditional and I don’t care.DSCF2858 We have only been this way once before so I will try not to bore you by repeating things.
We passed this boat absolutely covered with cobwebs. If a fly finds its way in it must be a miracle.DSCF2860 Castleford Lock was our first problem where the sand bank runs back from the lock mouth to the landing stage. It is well marked but the edge of the bank is well the navigation side of the buoys.DSCF2864 This lock has two paddles or slackers half way down the lock side connecting to the weir, one is above the weir crest to fill the lock, the other below to empty it. Filling the lock results in a very strong side flow pinning the boat to the wall.DSCF2869Bedford lock is quite small with a very low tail bridge, the place was swarming with kids in HiVis jackets, I bet they were warm. Last time we came this way the top gate was converted for electrical operation but the supply was not connected, so required lots of hand cranking, today its just press the button. DSCF2870 Beside the lock is the operating wheel from the last manually operated guillotine gate on the Gt Ouse. It was this very lock the top one of them all Bedford Town Lock.DSCF2893
We decided to have another attempt at the head of navigation at Kempston. So it was up through the town past the County CourtDSCF2874 that opens onto the river, not the road and then under the road and railway bridges, these are kneel down on the counter bridges which just cleared or rubber duck radio aerials. Since we were hear last they have chopped down all the river side trees.

Just beyond the railway we spotted this gull feeding on bread with the ducks, I think he may have an identity crises and thinks he’s a duck.DSCF2882We pushed on upstream to the island where we turned last time we were here because we didn’t know which was the channel, we didn’t even know it was an island at the time. This time we turned hard right just before it and were surprised to find that it opened out into a good wide, deep river. As we didn’t know what to expect we travelled very slowly and cautiously until we came to the canoe centre. DSCF2878 Here I chatted to one of the instructors who told me it was very shallow just after the next island and they couldn’t even get canoes up there. With this information we turned with ease just below the island and then reversed up the right hand side of the island until we ran out of water by a storm drain probably less than a boats length above the island.DSCF2879  From here it is downhill all the way. Passing the end of the railway yard as we came back into town they have built an interesting spiral bridge over the lines.DSCF2886 Once back in town we moored at the town moorings for lunch and a walk round town, this chap was sitting to greet us as we turned in behind yet another island. Like all the geese in the town DSCF2888he seems to like the rowing clubs floating moorings.
Just as we were setting off to visit the town’s museum at the old Higgins brewery the new Milton Keynes trip/community boat drew up behind us to drop off a load of school children. I wasn’t to

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impressed with the design as it has very large windows the whole length of the boat that drop back like hopper windows but only open about an inch along the top. I bet they were frying in there today. I expect they will probably need to fit blowers if we have a good summer.

After visiting the museum we decided to get back on the river looking for a bit of breeze and maybe even head back down to Gt Barford for the night, but those plans were changed for us when we arrived at Cardington Lock. As we arrived we could see the lock was against us and someone pulling things on the lock side, I thought he was pulling big mooring ropes. Diana walked up while I moored before joining her. The lock was still empty and two chaps were trying to get a large cruiser through the bottom gates. He had to bring it to the head of the lock as it was too wide to come up at the tail, even then there was only a couple of inches to spare and the coping stones along the top of the lock protrude over the lock by half an inch. Once settled at the front and with both tail gates closed he raised the guillotine by about half an inch, the water was coming in so slowly it took over ten minutes to cover the cill. at this rate it would take over an hour to fill the lock. We did consider going back to Bedford but then he opened up another half inch. The rate of gate lift was so small that with three slight opening it didn’t start the timer, so even when the lock was full we had to wait another five and a half minutes for the timer before we could fully raise the gate. By now it was getting late so we moored on the GOBA moorings at Goldington and had a BBQ.