March to Thrapston
Trip Start Apr 26, 2011
27Trip End Oct 31, 2011
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High winds today as forecast meant no boating. Three or four Fox hire boats came past, with boatyard staff in charge, and they moored in March town centre near Springwater with orders not to travel until given the all clear. We tried to buy a copy of Waterways World but Smiths did not stock it. Apparently there is a BCF article with our photos in it. We wandered round the shops and had haircuts before Andy and Sue came to our boat and we all went to Wetherspoons for lunch. Later we returned to Gabriel and enjoyed a bible study together.
We contacted the lockkeeper at Stanground and arranged a time of 3pm tomorrow.
Tue 13th September
The wind had lessened but was still evident as we set off on the three hour cruise to Ashline Lock and Whittlesey
We paused for lunch on the Whittlesey moorings where we met Roger and Babs Ilet on Megan. They have until now been on the Basingstoke Canal and Roger has been very involved with Bridge Barn and the Brookwood Rally a few years ago. He is cousin to Nessa of Balmaha . They are going to their new mooring at Bill Fen Marina, Ramsey. They obviously like to be in isolated places on the system!
We continued to Stanground, where we arrived 30 minutes early and were locked through straight away onto the River Nene at Peterborough. We made for the facilities block and noticed large tree branches lying around from the gales the previous day. We went a further mile upstream to the secluded mooring by the Boathouse Inn
James took a bus into Peterborough to visit WHSmith to buy Waterways World, this time with success. The article is a general one about BCF – what we do and how it all started. The photo was one taken at Crick 8 to 10 years ago when James went without Hazel for some reason. It was good to get the coverage. A shame there were no recent pictures from this years mission on the Erewash Canal. There is also a cruising guide to the River Nene – very timely for us.
Wed 14th September
The wind was much less today. We had a pleasant cruise to Alwalton Lock moorings for lunch. This is a lovely spot, sadly spoilt by the A1 which thunders past not far away. It is only a short walk from here to the East of England showground.
We carried on past the moorings for Wansford Station, where we noticed Meandrine and Pipedream moored up! We thought they were way ahead of us, having last seen them at St Neots going downstream while we were still going up towards Bedford, where we spent three nights
Thu 15th September
A glorious day. The wind had gone and the sun was shining. We left early and between Wansford and Yarwell Locks we came upon two fallen trees, one of which almost reached from one side to the other. We managed to scrape past, and we phoned the Environment Agency to let them know. When we arrived at Yarwell Lock, there was a notice about it on the lock, dated three days earlier, suggesting we shouldn't travel between the two locks! By then it was a bit late for us. As we were leaving the lock a team arrived with a lorry and a van to clear the trees.
As we passed Nassington we had a good look to see if we could get to the mooring by the Queens Head, as it was mentioned in Waterways World. It is on a backwater round an island. One channel, the widest one, had a low footbridge over it. The other channel had some sharp bends and looked difficult
We had a lovely sunny evening and sat out on deck watching the sun going down. Hugo was very happy exploring the cowfield, but long after we had gone to bed he came crashing through the catflap making loud swearing noises as though something had chased him in. We couldn’t see anything but we kept him in after that.
Fri 16th September
The wind was back this morning and our first lock was Warmington, which still has a manually operated guillotine gate. The lock was set for us, but there are signs asking us to leave the guillotine up when we leave. This meant that Hazel took the boat out of the lock and had great difficulty turning 900 to get onto the lock pontoon in the wind while James closed the vee doors and returned to the downstream guillotine gate to raise it with the wheel, which takes a good five minutes
As we cruised past Fotheringay, a boat called Felonious Mongoose was just casting off so we agreed to share the locks. Perio Lock has a wheel as well, but fortunately, as we were leaving the lock, another boat came down into the lock so we didn’t have to go through all that again. Cotterstock is electrically operated but it still takes five minutes to raise the guillotine gate. We moored just past Ashton Lock where there is space on the lock island. We noticed that there were four boats adrift from their moorings at the end of the channel by the weir, and planned to notify the Environment Agency later.
We walked into Oundle across a footbridge and a meadow and explored the village. It is dominated by the presence of the boys public school and in that respect is very similar to Sherborne, where James went to school. We visited the church, which looks lively with Alpha courses, home groups, drop-in projects and so on. We had some refreshments in a coffee shop before stocking up at the Co-op and heading back to the boat. We realised that we no longer had our “First Mate” guide which shows all the shops, doctors, etc. James retraced our steps and found it in the church, next to the visitors book where he must have left it
Back at the boat, we found that two of the loose boats had been recovered. The other two had apparently been there for several weeks.
We saw a red kite and two buzzards.
Sat 17th September
Windy again today, with some dark clouds interspersed with sunshine and a few spots of rain. We left Ashton Lock and called in at Oundle marina to empty our cassette. This has a ridiculously small entrance which is slanting so that coming from downstream it is just about OK, but leaving the marina again to turn upstream is very difficult. We filled our water tank at Upper Barnwell Lock.
Then we came upon some rowers who seemed to take up the whole river, going slowly so that we had to slow down, then speeding up. Then, when we gathered momentum again, slowing right down again so we had to go into reverse. They sometimes turned across the river without warning, as though we didn’t exist
We came through Wadenhoe Lock and discovered Meandrine and Pipedream moored up once more at the Kings Head. We also found a spot there and were soon surrounded by canoes coming downstream, and pulling their canoes out on the bank. We had lunch and then went on our way to the next lock, where the Middle Nene Cruising Club are located. We found the president (we have a commodore at Byfleet, but every club is different) and we agreed to exchange burgees. We stopped on the EA 48 hour mooring for the rest of the day, and James went for a 3 mile walk round Titchmarsh Nature Reserve. There were six hides and he saw three little egrets. There was a very black sky, and golden sunlight, and a whole squadron of geese flew in and landed on the lake. Very dramatic lighting.
In the evening we visited the clubhouse and chatted to the members. We noticed that our burgee had already been put up on the old rafters. The building is an old mill.
Sun 18th September
We left fairly early with a heavy dew but some sunshine
Back to the boat for ZZZ, then we booked a hire car for next weekend, when we have a family get together in Norfolk. We also sent a few emails to arrange to meet a BCF member, plus some ex Weybridge neighbours, but had no phone signal.
Next week – Northampton plus a return to the Grand Union.