Saturday 31 August 2013

Elton Saturday 31 August 2013

We only had the dawn chorus to wake us this morning and then we went back to sleep. Last night dinner was taken at the Boathouse. This is part of the Old English Inn chain and dinner was fine, service good and they had Timothy Taylors Landlord on the pump.

This morning we set off at 9-30 back down to Peterborough embankment to fill with water and empty the black tank. I also called in at Poundland and bought a card reader, guess what, it doesn’t take the cards from Diana’s camera.

It was 11 am when we finally started our journey up the Nene, the first lock we came to was Orton with very little water running over the weirs other than the canoe course but even this was enough to set up an eddy current below the lock mouth.DSCF3369 As we were about to leave the lock a Narrowboat turned up so we left one top gate for them, however a second joined them so they opened both gates to get in one at a time.

The Ea warn of shoaling below Waternewton lock but state that it is buoyed, The shoaling is almost right across the river with the channel to the left of this row of buoys. You can even see the sand bank in this photo.DSCF3372

This Swan was somewhat upset that the one under it had joined him and is wife and signets, last I saw he was still chasing it out of the water and across the field DSCF3374

We were just closing the gate on Alwarton Lock when Diana spotted a Narrowboat coming upstream, so of course she raised it again for them to come in.  The only problem is that even if the gate is not closed you still have to wait for the delay to open it so it was not a quick job. It turned out to be Sumo from Nene Valley Boats and we shared with them for the rest of the day..DSCF3377 Again we were lucky with a cruiser turning up just as we were leaving. With the Nene locks, for some reason you have to leave the lock empty with the gate up, this takes a good 10 minutes as even with no boat in the lock you still have to wait for the gate timer to time out before fully lifting the gate.

There was a rather nice launch moored just before Pat Buckles yard at Stibbington, I could see my self behind the wheel of this going up and down the Thames.DSCF3380 Not long after this we passed the Obelisk at Stibbington Hall and then trough the old A1 bridge that says County of Huntington  on one side of the river and County of Soke of Peterborough on the other.DSCF3383 

Needles to say I met another two Narrowboats coming downstream on a bend with a big willow sticking out on my side on the inside of the bend making it blind. I tucked it to let the first through but the second very kindly hung back for me. Shortly after that it was three swimmers that came round the bend mid channel causing a rapid application of the breaks.

In Yarwell lock we said goodbye to our locking companions, they were going on to Elton but we planned to pull in at Nassington.DSCF3386 However as we passed we could see that the moorings were full of cruisers and that there was a large bouncy castle on the green so we just carried on slowly waiting for Sumo to catch up. At the two arched bridge just before Elton I took the wrong arch as its much easier to line up if no one is coming downstream, I had just completed the manoeuvre  when a wide beam came down stream, i guess he had seen what I had done because as Sumo rounded the bend below the bridge he gave a good blast on the horn to let everyone know he was coming down and not to try the same thing. We worked through Elton lock together and then moored just above the lock for the night.

Friday 30 August 2013

Peterborough Rowing Lake, Fri 30 Aug 2013

O for the quiet country mooring, no street lights or traffic to disturbed your evening, only the sound of the local farmer playing with his 500HP. tractor and combined harvester with its automatic reverse bleeper alarm and it 8 lamp spot light bar lighting the river until 11 pm at night. Still he didn’t start again until just after 7 am this morning.

We were away at 7-30 am. heading up to Floods ferry and then left onto Whittlesey Dyke. There was a sunbeam shining down from the sky, was this an omen and if so was it good or bad.DSCF3345 Not long after this we met a suicidal swan that took off and flew straight down the river towards us, I expected to find it in the lounge as it was so close to the bow when it landed I had lost sight of it.DSCF3347

The water was clear and no weed problems so we made good headway to Ashline Lock. When we arrived not only was it full, you are requested to leave it empty with all gates closed but the top gates were wide open, in addition to this both slackers were also up. There are no tell tails on this lock so you have to check with your windlass. Just as we were about to leave the lock a boater who was moored on the Whittlesey visitor moorings asked us to leave the lock as he was about to leave and would be locking down, so that saved us closing up and draining it. There were an abundance of blackberries growing by the bridge over Whittlesey Narrows and if we didn’t need to catch the lock before 1 pm. I would have stopped to pick them.DSCF3350 We met 4 boats between here and the lock, the first being a Fox’s hire boat heading back to March, the last was someone we use to moor near at Floods ferry Marina.DSCF3352 The highlight of the day was to spot these two lovely creatures just coming out of the woods along Kings Dyke.DSCF3357


We arrived at Stanground just after the last boat coming down had left so the lock was set ready for us and Tina the lock keeper soon had us on our way to Peterborough.

After some unsuccessful shopping, I wanted a USB card reader to download the photos from Diana’s camera and in the end bought a lead to connect the camera to the computer, but when we got to the boat it didn’t fit. We did however buy some bottles of Doombar beer which is quite nice we headed off down to the Dog in a Doublet for the night, only to find that the EA have closed the visitor moorings for some reason. They look just the same as they did a year ago, but they have erected security fencing inDSCF3364 such  a way its impossible to get ashore, so we had to turn and return to Peterborough for the night. Half way along this stretch of water there is a field of horses, I did a quick count and think there are the top side of 60 in the adjoining fields.DSCF3366 Just after that we passed under some overhead high voltage cables, we had spotted a crane on the south bank as we came down, which had required about a quarter of a mile of temporary road way to be laid, but looking to the other bank I spotted these chaps, there were another couple up the next pylon as well.DSCF3368

We carried on through the tow and turned in beside the rowing lake to moor for the night, we wondered if there would be a space but when we got here we were the only boat, so we moored up just on 6 pm. not bad considering we left at 7.30 this morning.

Now was the sunbeam a good omen or a bad one. we saw the deer and we got a mooring by the rowing lake, but I also got the wrong lead, couldn’t get the card reader and went all the way to the Dog in a Doublet for nothing. You decide.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Benwick Thursday 29 Aug 2013

last night they finished harvesting some time between 10-30 and 11pm. and I expected a peaceful mooring.

DSCF3322 This morning I pulled the mud weights at 10 am. but they didn’t have time to get dry. We went a short way up river to Nightingales Corner and turned right then less than quarter of a mile to Exhibition Bridge, where after winding the mud weightsDSCF3325 went down again. The published clearance of Exhibition Bridge is 1.2Mt but it is actually 1.5Mt but we still can’t get under it so it was time to inflate and launch the canoe. When we got to the other side of the bridge the gauge shows the bridge as 1.8Mt, yes it slopes and they have gauged each side differently to the height  of the entrance. I am very glad it slopes the way it does or I may well have tried to get under it.

We paddled up stream (officially as there is no flow) as far as Bevill’s Leam Pumping Station which now straddles Bevill’s Leam. We have come down to the other side of the pumping station on Harnser from Angle Corner.

A quick photo and we turned and went back to the junction of the North western Cut where we went just through the bridge before turning back. We did consider going all  the way to the end but that would have been another 2 miles each way and we are not that fit yet. In places the weed covered the surface from side to side, it was surprising how hard it was paddling through this. The round trip took us 2 hr 45 min. with only floating stops for a slurp of juice and a biscuit, a total journey of 5.5 miles.  (Red line on the map)

Back at the boat we loaded the canoe on the roof and set off back towards Benwick. This Grebe hasn’t realised that the breading season is over.DSCF3337We met another boat as we made our way to the Benwick moorings in almost the same spot as yesterday.

While motoring along I rang Stanground lock to book a passage for 4pm tomorrow as you have to give 24 hrs notice, this would give us plenty of time to get from Benwick, however the latest they could offer was 1 pm. so it looks like an early start in the morning.

Work was ongoing on the flood defences at Benwick and the new path is only happening because the sheet piling machine destroyed the old one, it wasn’t in the plan. Also they are just capping the imitation brick walls, not back filling and there will be removable gates to each property stored by the bridge. As we passed we could see piles of the brick tile covered sheets,DSCF3339 the don’t have half bricks but a half brick gap on the end so when the fix the sheets they but two halves together and then fix a DSCF3341 brick in the space so when finished and pointed you cant see the joints.

We had been moored here about 20 min. when another boat arrived from the other direction. We invited them to moor along side, but as they had two dogs they asked if we could move up a bit so they could just get their stern onto the moorings, which we did. She then told us that she was surprised to see us here as her friends  had only left a short time before and when they met told them the mooring was free.

The evening was capped off with a BBQ and the most glorious sunset with a bright red sun going down behind the horizon.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Ramsay St Mary Wednesday 28 Aug 2013

Last weekend the Middle Level Watermans Club celebrated their 50 anniversary on their new moorings by the Marylebone foot bridge from the park.The site was donated to the MLWC and they have named it Skouldings Rest in memory of their benefactor. This morning a group of them were hard at work clearing things away.DSCF3264 When Diana returned from shopping we reversed back to the service block near the town bridge to fill with water. We didn’t need much but our next chance will be Peterborough.
One of the riverside houses in March looks a real picture with their flowers.DSCF3267

We made a brief stop at Fox’s boatyard to pick up a pen I won in their location competition that they run on Facebook. then it was off passed our old moorings at Floods Ferry, only one face to wave at us but lots of the others were out boating who we saw earlier.

We turned sharp left to follow the route of the Old River Nene down to Benwick, I pulled over to the moorings to get a better photo of the new foot bridge, I do think its pleasing on the eye.DSCF3298 The footpath behind the moorings is closed but we only saw the sign when we reached the end. The reason for the closure is flood defence work and its being carried out in an interesting way. They have piled the ground behind the foot path then clad the piling in what looks like master board with brick tiles attached.DSCF3294 It looks as if they intend to top this section along the cemetery with fencing when complete, further along it just ends as a dwarf wall. I would imagine it will be filled with concrete. The work continues all the way along the front of all the riverside properties with an earth bank by the agricultural land.

It was not long before we started to experience blanket weed coming up under the boat so progress was slow at times, we actually met another boat along this section, I hope their cratch was low enough to get under White Fen farm bridge, if not they have a long way to go back.DSCF3279

When we reached Wells Bridge we turned right to Lodes End Lock, the difference in level was about 2 inches. The lock is designed so that if the level to the West of the lock rises it flows through the lock to the east and gets pumped away, if the level to the east rises like it does in winter then the lock gates prevent the water flowing to the west. DSCF3313

After the lock the weed was worse with different types of weed to contend with, we continued on through the village of Ramsey St Mary until we were opposite the old wind pump where the growth on the bank was a bit less and I had a chance of getting ashore, well if I got against the side I could. In the end I dropped a mud weight at each end and here we sit in the lily patch. I could have jumped from the stern, but as I had no idea what I was jumping into I decided against it.DSCF3319

Quite often in the past I have put a photo of a plane at the end of my blog, this one came over today.DSCF3273

Tuesday 27 August 2013

March Tuesday 27 Aug 2013

We left our mooring on the Little Ouse for the last time thisDSCF3223 morning and travelled quarter of a mile upstream to fill with diesel and sort out our final leaving arrangements.  Then it was down stream and off to Denver. Avalon had come down the river yesterday afternoon and were still outside the Ship when we left.DSCF3224

I rang the lock keeper at Denver to check what time he would be locking, 12-10 was the reply and as we needed a pump out I needed to get a move on. 3 swans came to say good by to us, I shall miss this old river.DSCF3225 We arrived at Denver in good time, but I could see a cruiser already in the lock waiting out, but he was heading for Kings Lynn and would leave as soon as the tide made. There were several Narrowboats on the lock mooring and others on the EA moorings looking expectantly to the lock. As I started the pump out Diana walked round to the lock to book us in with the keeper. We were 5th out of 6 boats to leave, the sixth was a bit longer and needed to wait for Salter’s Lode to make the level before he could get through.

We had completed the pump out and were just by the EA moorings as the first Narrowboat started to enter the lock, others were dodging about. I pulled in and moored as it would be 2 hours before it was our turn. Not only were there boats coming from Salter’s but also some cruisers from Kings Lynn.

When we finally locked out I made my way down to Salter’s lode Lock meeting a Fox’s boat on the way.DSCF3254  It was very hard to tell what the water was doing, it had been running out for two hours at least but still it didn’t seem to be moving. I set up my turn into Salter’s lock and almost came round too tight having to widen my arc running straight in mid channel touching absolutely nothing. Apart from the lock keeper and one other there was no one there to see it.

Back on the Middle Level and nothing had changed, Paul the lock keeper told Maureen at Marmont Priory lock we were on our way. The weed along Well Creek was much better than I had hoped for. We passed one of the boats that left before us moored at Outwell and a second in Upwell. At Upwell I rang Maureen to let her know we were still on our way, this was shortly before I met another Fox hire boat coming towards us. As we approached Marmont Priory Lock the gates were open, not ready for us, but to let another Narrowboat out. As soon as they were clear we went in and Diana hoped off to lend a hand, after a brief chat with Maureen, her husband, her daughter and her grandchildren we were on our way again. Below the lock the water is much deeper and wider making the passage of the boat much easier. By the wind turbines they were busy harvesting and looking back it looked like a bank of cloud for miles along the horizon, it was actually dust. Just then a tractor and trailer sped along the bank passed us. The dust cloud he put up completely obscured the river for a bit.DSCF3258   We came into March a few minutes before seven and it was wall to wall boats, I pulled against the off side, not an official mooring but there was already one boat on this side. DSCF3261 Before mooring properly Diana walked along the river to the park and telephoned back that there was a space there long enough for us so I pushed off and headed down to her. There was only one cruiser on the end of the moorings and more than enough space for us to tuck in behind them. As it had now turned seven it was decided that a Fish and Chip take away supper would be in order.

Monday 26 August 2013

Denver Sat 24 Aug 2013

During the night the rain started, It was warm when we went to bed so we left the engine room doors open and also the back cabin slid, so that was a little job that needed attending to.
When we woke this morning it was still raining but eased off about ten. The.water tank was just about empty and at times the pump was sucking air. The water point is right against the bridge so I had to join two hoses together to reach our filler point.
The moorings are a nice straight quay edge but there are only a couple of rings, one by the bridge and one 70ft away from it, but someone has driven in a couple of large poles for mooring, it still makes it difficult to use the moorings efficiently. DSCF3165

We set off at 1130, I have never seen so many people fishing off their boat as there was along this stretch, some of them were sitting on their decks in the drizzle but others were inside the cockpits fishing out through the side doors sitting in the dry.

As we approached the sugarbeet factory at Wissington a Heron was standing like a weather vain on top of the old pumping station. We carried on upstream past the sugarbeet factory DSCF3173to wind just above the B1160 road bridge. At this point I had to put a coat on as the fine warm drizzle increased to rain. As we made our way back through Hilgay they were still all busy fishing but not catching much. Just below the Hilgay road bridge this little chap looked out to say hello as we passed.DSCF3178 Back on the Gt Ouse we turned left to moor for a while at Hilgay Bridge EA moorings, there was only one other boat there and we use to moor next to them when we were at Floods Ferry so we spent a bit of time catching up on fellow moorers. The are crossing from Denver to Salters tomorrow so we said good by and they headed off to Denver for the night. Shortly after they had left we heard from Gwen who would be joining us for the weekend. he was running a bit late so they would meet us at Denver, so we untied and headed towards Denver.
On the way we passed mother Grebe with 4 good sized youngsters. I think this is the largest family I have come across.DSCF3180

We arrived at Denver the same time as our friends from Floods ferry but unfortunately we were a couple of minutes behind another narrow boat, a couple of minutes earlier and we would also have had a bank side mooring, but now we are laying outside “Carpe Diem” for the night.

Home Moorings Monday 26 Aug 2013

We set off at about 10 am with the weather showing every sign of getting better. We had to carry on along the Old West a short way before it was wide enough for us to wind.

We had just passed the Little Thetford moorings when I spotted a cow in the river. DSCF3208 I pulled in at an angle so any passing boats had to give it a wide berth and dialled 99 to call Fire Brigade. I was most impressed with the response I received. The operator put me straight through to the Fire Brigade control to who I explained where we were and what we were doing, she accepted all the information I could give without question and within 5 minutes we could see the fire engine complete with flashing lights waiting to cross the railway.
4 Fire Fighters walked along the flood bank, 2 of them donning their life jackets. One of the men told me that they would walk it along where they knew the water was shallow and the bank lower, he then told me this was the third cow in 5 days at this spot. Sure enough a couple of them calmly walked it along a few hundred yards and it was able to climb out by its self.

Seeing all was OK we continued in to Ely and moored close to where the trip boat runs from so that we could show Chris and Gwen, our guests for the weekend around Ely. By now it was really warming up and as we made our way back down to the boat we called in at the Royal Standard for lunch, a good choice as they had Trawler Boys on the bar, a Lowestoft brew.http://www.green-jack.com

Returning to the boat we couldn’t pass the Ice cream van without getting a 99which we consumed in the sunshine on Harnser’s front deck.

A little after 3 pm we set off back to our home moorings so that Chris and Gwen could head back home. I think I can say they both a relaxing couple of days and the weather couldn’t have been better for them.DSCF3215

Sunday 25 August 2013

Old West River Sunday 25 Aug 2013

Following breakfast we spent an hour wandering around the Denver Complex before Diana and Gwen took their car to our moorings and Chris and I set sail to meet them. We had a good run down to Brandon Creek where we picked up the ladies and headed on to the River Lark.

Today was the busiest day I have ever experienced on the Gt Ouse and we met several Narrowboats and cruisers as we travelled along the river.

We turned up the the Lark and were very please to ne able to moor at Prickwillow. By now the weather was so nice that we were able to eat dinner outside on the bank.
After lunch we visited the Pump Museum, I wish now I had taken a membership out as it would have saved me money. Once we had had our fill of the museum we were off again, winding just through the road bridge and heading down stream to the Gt Ouse. Here we turned left and went on through Ely, had we wanted to stop we could have moored right outside the Cutter, but we didn’t think that would be the most peaceful mooring in the area. We continued on to Popes Corner passing vacant moorings at Little Thetford, turning up the old West, hoping to moor at Golds Mere of Hundred Acre. The first was full, the second had a selection of well spaced boat, that if they had moored more considerately would have left loads of room for us. In the end we went about another hundred yards and moored in the nettles and cow poo. Next time I will not be so quick to offer to move to squeeze someone in. Another thing I noticed for the first time was cruisers coming by without slowing, but then dropping their speed when they reached the moored cruisers. Maybe its a bank Holiday thing, I hope so and that soon everything will be back to normal.

Friday 23 August 2013

Hilgay R. Wissey Fri 23 Aug 2013

We left the moorings a few minutes after 4 pm. The river was quite busy, we met 3 boats and were overtaken by one. Out on the Gt Ouse we headed downstream, under Hilgay Bridge passed the completely empty EA moorings which was a surprise, the moorings at The Ship had been full with cruisers breasted up. Next it was under the railway bridge and then right up the river Wissey. Our plan was to go to Hilgay and see if A. we could get a mooring and B. if the Rose and Crown were doing food. If we failed on ether of these points we would head back down stream to the GOBA moorings for a BBQ. When we arrived at Hilgay the moorings were empty and the pub was doing food so that sealed the deal. We moored up just passed the old road bridge at about 1815hrs. and went to the pub for dinner.
We timed our visit just right as they had just put a fresh barrel of Doombar on and we waited while they drew it through to the pump.

We can hear the traffic on the new bridge but hopefully it will not be to bad. Another plus is that its a BT Hotspot.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Home Moorings Monday 19 Aug 2013

Not long after we moored up a few boats locked up from Salters Lode and one of them lay alongside us for the night. It turned out they were a shared ownership boat out for 3 weeks and planning a remote changeover in Bedford. We told them that we were planning to be off about 9 ish where as they were staying for lunch.

After a good meal at Jenyns last night we were soon looking for our beds. This time they had Adnems and Doombar on.
We where awake just after 6 am by a boat near us running their engine for about 10 minutes, they did this last time we moored near them here as well.

By 9 30 we had finished breakfast and were ready for the off. Sliding out from inside the other was simple as the boat ahead had left at 7 30 heading for Peterborough, so we just attached his forward line to the bollard and as I slid out passed his stern I just passed his centre line ashore, by the time we had gone about he was sitting comfortably against the bank.

The run back to our moorings was uneventful, the wind did freshen slightly but was mush less than the weekend and the clouds did start to gather but no sign of much needed rain.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Denver Sluice Sunday 18 Aug 2013

It wasn’t quite so windy this morning with a clear sky, yesterday the wind hit 32 MPH.

We were awake quite early with a reversing alarm going off. I thought it was something in the marina but it turned out to be the farm on the hill, because of this we were away by 9 AM. I was just able to wind on the moorings by holding the bum of the boat in the slight kink.
By the time we passed through Ely the swimmers had finished and they were running along the waterfront.DSCF3143 

The chap with the Pedalboats was hard at work unloading his van,I don’t think he could get it much closer to the water.DSCF3144

Just before Adelaide bridge we met a group of rowers heading back towards their base.DSCF3146  Their coach was coming up the rear in a plastic dingy with a large outboard, not the most streamline craft for travelling at rowing speed.DSCF3148 Once at the River Lark it was hard right and down to Prickwillow to visit the Pump Museum. The first lot of moorings were full, but we just fitted on the end of the ones through the bridge. Not only were the engines running but they had stationary engines and tractors in the carpark. Inside there was also a collection of Meccano models on display.DSCF3150

After lunch we winded yet again and headed downstream back to the Gt. Ouse it was right again towards Denver for the night.

We had just passing under Prickwillow rail bridge when the train of old slam door carriages that I had seen in Ely the day before  crossed the river heading back to Ely. I wasn’t fast enough to get a photo of the diesel pulling them but I did manage a shot of the diesel on the back end. The carriages all looked to be empty.DSCF3151DSCF3152

Over the passed couple of days we have seen lots of people walking along the river bank, following fluorescent orange arrows. Some of them came passed us when we moored at Denver. The are walking to Walsingham from St Albans.

We have moored at Denver Sluice so that we can have dinner at the Jenyns Arms.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Golds Mere,Popes Corner Saturday 17 Aug 2013

As we were on the moorings last night we drove to the Swan at Littleport for dinner. We were lucky to get a table for two, not the best spot in the restaurant right by the till, but it was that or nothing.
While we perused the menu a young lady brought complementary olives, bread and balsamic vinegar/oil. We decided against wine as they had Doombar and Adnams on. It was a good move because after the beer arrived I remembered we came by car and one of us would need to drive back to the mooring.
Both our meals were first class as was the service. All in all a good night.

This morning I left the boat at 8 am to drive to Norwich to pick up my sister for the weekend.The journey only took me an hour but the return was a little bit slow. Once we had her and her bags onboard we went a short way up the Little Ouse to wind. Back downstream we turned hard left at The Ship and headed towards Ely. Today was cooler than late and much windier so although my sister started out on deck it was not long before she had to head inside.DSCF3136

We pulled over for lunch at the first lot of moorings in Littleport and then pushed on to Ely where Kevin had kindly leant me his mooring, this meant that we could have a slow walk round part of Ely ending up back at the Waterfront for an ice cream which we ate by the river. Once this was all taken care of we ambled along the river back to the boat.

The next stop was somewhere for dinner so we headed out of town towards Popes Corner. Passing the railway I spotted what looked to be old slam door coaches making up a train but couldn’t see an engine. Having just passed under the railway  being followed by a hire cruiser a goods train trundled over.DSCF3139 All the moorings at Little Thetford were full with a couple of Narrowboats moored to the new piling to the Ely side of them. By now the wind had picked up quite a bit. At Popes Corner we turned right onto the Old West River and it was not long before we met a cruiser and then just before the railway a second. This didn’t bode well with me, surly by 6pm they wouldn’t have passed an empty mooring in this wind, but luck was on our side, just through the bridge I could see the far mooring post of Golds Mere moorings, then another ands another, when we cleared the bridge we could see that there was only one small cruiser right on the end of the mooring, so that was us for the night.