Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Upwell to March

I haven't blogged for a few days as we've been retracing our route back from Salters Lode to March and I've already posted about this section of the system. I'm sure you don't want to hear about the minutiae of our daily lives so I try and only write about new things we've done and new places we've stayed.

We spent Friday and Saturday nights on the visitor moorings beside the church in Upwell. It's a good spot, opposite a good butchers and beside the Five Bells pub and also has the benefit of a water tap which seem to be in short supply round here.  You have to get the key from the pub, for a £5 deposit, but as they aren't open all day hardly any passing boats bother to stop and fill up. The Well Creek Society have installed raised planted beds beside the mooring and along with several rose bushes which had just finished flowering these are full of herbs, rhubarb and raspberry bushes which are free for the picking. It's a really nice touch.

The fishing was good here too and Roger caught several nice rudd (well I think they were rudd)

During one of our dog walks we came across fields of pumpkins which were being harvested. We must have seen 30 wagons full of them being taken past the boat en-route to the local packing plant. The other main crops round these parts seem to be sugar beet and cabbages.

We arrived back in March on Sunday to find that the river bank which had been washed away during our previous stay has now been repaired. The moorings were still blocked off however so we moored on the other side of town.

On Monday we took the bus to King's Lynn for a day out. I had to visit the nearest branch of our bank to prove my identity in order that I could get a new bank card as some scum-bag had hacked my account and made a HUGE fraudulent withdrawal. It took two hours on the phone followed by an hour and a half each way on the bus but the bank have been very good and refunded the cash pending investigation.

There won't be another blog now until the end of the month as we're going on holiday. Yes, I know people say that we're always on holiday but we're heading off to Italy for some culture.....oh and lots of pasta and red wine too............See you when we get back.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Goodbye Great Ouse

We've really enjoyed our month on the rivers Great Ouse, Little Ouse, Lark and Cam but all good things must come to an end.

We left Denver Lock on the high tide at noon

and headed down stream for Salters Lode Lock, aiming to go in at a right angle alongside the tractor tyres

and avoid the submerged mud bank

We then had to wait outside the lock while the tide went out enough for the Lockie to open the gate and let us in.

The bow was tied to the overhead gantry and we were alongside the very muddy tyres for an hour and a half

Once the tide had dropped exposing the full extent of the mud bank the lockie opened the guillotine gate and let us in

After the wide rivers where we hardly saw any other moving boats it's going to seem a bit strange being back on the drains and then the busy canals.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


Last night we moored on a meadow and walked into the local village of Hemingford Abbots.

There are lots of fantastic "chocolate box" thatched cottages

and a library housed in a disused telephone box. What a brilliant idea!

The Anchor & Compasses pub is stunning both outside and in.

We'd considered having a meal in there but it stank of cigarette smoke which they were trying to mask by burning several scented candles. All in all it was totally off-putting so we left after one beer.

As I've mentioned before, the EA have a very different approach to maintenance than C&RT. At Hemingford Lock we met a couple of EA men who were bringing their weed cutting boat through the lock. One of them commented that he thought the lock paddle was a bit stiff and straight away got on the phone to report it for fixing. If that had been C&RT men they would probably done nothing about it.

They also have a good solution for swinging gates. This fixing keeps the gates open

and this keeps them closed.  We could do with some of them on the canals.

We're now moored outside Earith Marina on 48hr Visitor Moorings. Not only are these free, but the pump-out is totally free as well so we've made good use of it to empty and flush out the tank.

We've also got some company tonight.

I'd be seriously tempted to stay another day with such amazing mooring companions but unfortunately we have to carry on again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


The nice sunset we had at St Neots really did foretell a glorious day and we were back to cloudless blue skies and factor 50 sun screen yesterday. After the previous day's rain it was wonderful!

For a few days now we've been playing leap-frog with a couple on the cruiser Lady Linda, so when we moored up behind them at Godmanchester last night it was time to get to know each other over drinks. We had a lovely evening with David and Linda and it was nice to get a "yoghurt pot's" view of the rivers and canals as opposed to a narrowboat's. They moor on the Great Ouse so told us about places to go to that we would otherwise have missed and as Linda is a keen angler she and Roger had plenty to chat about. They even shared maggots as the local angling shop was closed by the time we arrived.

The visitor moorings beside the park are quite short and we only just managed to get the bow in enough for us to get Chico on and off - and that was after having to ask a hire boat to move up as they were taking up 2 boat lengths. It was very overgrown beside the boat and there was a wasps nest in the bank but the view from the back of the boat was worth it.

Godmanchester is a pretty little village with several thatched cottages

and the smallest Town Hall I have ever seen

There's a good butchers and an angling supplies shop in the village and I can recommend the fish and chip shop/cafe where we had lunch today.

People certainly have very different ideas of what constitutes a "boat" round here. These two were basically just floating caravans but obviously someone's pride and joy.

We're now moored on GOBA moorings just above Hemingford Lock. It was a fairly short trip today as we didn't set off until after lunch and I wanted to dry the washing outdoors and Roger wanted to do some fishing. We'll carry on again tomorrow with a longer trip to get us back on schedule.

Monday, 1 September 2014

To Bedford and back

We left St Neots on Friday afternoon, continuing our trip on the Great Ouse towards Bedford.

This boat had a grass roof????   It must have been deliberately planted although for the life of me I can't imagine why........

The EA certainly seem to take Health and Safety very seriously and the locks down here are all much better maintained than the C&RT ones.

I know they aren't as old, but all the ladders and hand rails are just so much sturdier than on the canal locks. I'm not convinced the chains are a good thing though and we saw a narrowboat get its fenders caught in them the other day, although quite why they had 4 fenders down each side of the boat in a lock was beyond me..........

We moored at Great Barford on Friday night and nipped into The Anchor pub for a couple of beers. Shortly after I took the photo we were joined by 3 cruisers so the moorings were full for the night. That was a bit of a novelty for us as there's been very little traffic on the river and we've had most of the moorings either to ourselves or with only one other boat on them.

This beautiful thatched cottage was right beside our mooring, although you could only just see it through a gap in the fence. It was the same at the front of the house too as it was hidden from the main road by a high wall and lots of bushes. If you fancy it, it's for sale at £650,000 HERE

On Saturday we continued into Bedford, passing this lovely topiary bush on the way.

Castle Mill Lock is the deepest we've been through for a long while. It's almost 3m deep as you can see from the height of the weir to the right.

It's different to other locks we've been through as the paddles and winding gear are in the middle of the lock, rather than at each end. I suppose that's been done to minimise the turbulence of so much water pouring in to fill it. These locks are wide but wouldn't take 2 narrowboats side by side although most of them are long enough for a narrowboat and a cruiser.

This pyramid is the Oasis Beach Pool complex which is one of the main landmarks that tell you you're close to Bedford. There are GOBA moorings here which makes it a good spot to stop and there's a large Tesco Extra just behind the pyramid.

Bedford Lock has the lowest bridge we've encountered this trip. We've got an aerial right at the front of the roof and we know that if that touches a low bridge we're still OK as the box and solar panels at the stern are a few inches lower.

As with most city centre rivers there's a large colony of juvenile swans in Bedford, although you don't always see a black swan amongst them. We've seen a few this year, although never more than one at a time. It makes you wonder where they came from.

The council moorings are quiet and good, although there's only really room for two narrowboats. We spent Saturday night by ourselves but were joined on Sunday by n.b D'Accord. I like to go out for Sunday lunch as it's a nice break from cooking and washing up and this week we went to The Swan Hotel. Unfortunately they had two large parties in at the same time as us and the service and food were very underwhelming. I just don't understand how they can mess up a basic Sunday roast,  just a choice of two meats, one fish or one hard is that?

After yesterday's sunshine, today has been a bit of a let down and we spent most of sweltering it in waterproofs. It was that really fine drizzle that soaks you but was really too warm to wear them. We're now back in St Neots and we've had a nice orange sunset so hopefully it'll be nice again tomorrow.