Tuesday, 25 August 2015


Waiting to enter Abington Lock with Morning Mist

Moored in Northampton Marina
Job for today - a final push to reach Northampton where we are booked in for the Festival of Water.  We set off early at 8am as rain was forecast for sometime in the afternoon.  Pretty quickly we met up with Morning Mist again and accompanied them for the 5 miles and 6 locks to Northampton.  The journey was straightforward and the wooded scenery enjoyable although we did have some problems with the large amount of floating weed in the water.   The final 3 locks were all of the traditional lock gate design and so much faster to operate than the guillotine locks used for most of the river.  We reached Northampton marina at 1pm after filling up with water and pumping-out.

We decided to pay £10 to spend the first night in the marina as the public moorings at Town Quay were getting full.  In the afternoon we walked to the nearby Morrisons to stock up with the foodl needed for our stay as our allocated Festival mooring is some way from any shops.

Tomorrow we will move back onto the River to our allocated mooring.  Probably no more blog entries until our journey restarts on Tuesday.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Cogenhoe before the rain

Timeless travels through the duckweed
The weather first thing this morning was not as bad as it was forecast for later and so we made a quick run of 2 miles and 2 locks to Cogenhoe (pronounced cook-no or possibly cook-ner) to be in a better position for a run through to Northampton tomorrow.  We paired up with narrowboat Timeless for the whole journey,  the main feature of which was the extensive weed coverage, both harmless duckweed and floating reed stems which tend to get wound around the prop.

We arrived at the attractive farmer's field moorings at Cogenhoe just before 10:00 with only a short delay because of the weed.  By lunchtime there was heavy rain which has continued all day, so it seems we made the right decision to move the short distance.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

White Mills Lock

Moored at White Mills Lock
With heavy rain forecast for Monday we were faced with another long journey today.  Leaving early at 8:15 we had traveled 10 miles and 8 locks in 6 hours.  For the first 3 locks we were paired with narrowboat Sometime and for the final 5 with Ampere, a new electrically powered narrowboat.   At White Mills Lock the rain started.  Fortunately just above the lock there are adequate moorings next to the construction site for a new marina.  So that's where we stopped for the day - not very scenic but at least we avoided a soaking.

Saturday, 22 August 2015


Cruisng on the Nene

Last night we had another excellent meal and beer at the King's Head Wadenhoe.  Another long day  cruising today in hot sunny and less windy weather.  A cruise of 6:15 hours covering 12 miles and 7 locks 3 of which were manually operated.  Nothing much to report, just lovely scenery.

We are now moored at the former Rushton & Diamonds football ground where there are good moorngs.  I say formet because they went bust a few year ago and the facilities here are in a very sad state.  A practice ground is now a barren patch of weeds and an impressive stadium is empty.  Apparently it is all due to be demolished and replaced by housing and a restaurant area.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Wadenhoe again

With bad weather forecast for the weekend and our early stop yesterday we needed to make significant progress on our journey to Northampton today.   After studying the river guide book we decided to make for Wadenhoe some 13 miles and 8 locks away which we estimated would take 7 hours.

Starting at 8:30 the journey proved to be very enjoyable with delightful scenery and good views of Red Kites and a kingfisher (Denise missed it!).  We made fast progress despite a strong headwind averaging about 3.5 mph whilst moving and were able to work the locks faster than expected having established an efficient allocation of tasks.  We traveled through the final two locks with "Morning Mist" who we last met in Whittlesey last Sunday.  We arrived at the Kings Head in Wadenhoe, where we had moored on our way down the Nene at the end of June, at 3pm - 6.5 hours in total.
Green Man at Wadenhoe church

The other Green Man

Church Street (formerly Gas Street) Wadenhoe
After securing the boat we visited the 13th Century Church with its two carvings of the Green Man  and walked around the village using a guidebook we had bought at the church to identify houses, mainly thatched cottages, of interest.  Also identified was the site of the village gas works which closed in 1911!

We will be eating in the Kings Head tonight.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

A long journey to Elton

On the Nene near Overton Lake

Milton Ferry Bridge
Moored at Elton - lock and mill, looking derelict, in background
We continue our journey back up the Nene towards Northampton.  We left Overton Lake at 9:30 and cruised 13 miles and 5 locks to finish up at the small village of Elton where we arrived at 3pm.  Luckily we were able to travel with Dragonfly for the whole journey sharing the work of operating the locks.  The weather was overcast but dry with a bit of a breeze and the scenery quite attractive.   It was a pleasant enough journey though with no real highlights but, although we had intended to travel on to Fotheringhay, by 3pm we were feeling very tired and so stopped early.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Starting back up the Nene

We had an enjoyable stay in Peterborough.  On Monday we ate out at "The Brewery Tap", a pub that brews its own beer in a brewery visible from the bar and also serves excellent Thai meals.  Recommended!

On Tuesday we both caught separate trains to visit our father's.  It was Densie's father's 85th birthday whilst my 94 year old father just need some household problems fixed.

A busy day today.  First job in the morning was to buy a lot of groceries from the market, Tesco and Waitrose.  As the last of these is about a mile from the moorings we splashed out and got a taxi back to near the boat.  Then we pulled the boat back to the services area where we filled up with water and pumped-out.  Just as we were about to leave a hireboat arrived with a Swiss group on board.  This was their first pump-out so we helped them with it before moving off up the Nene.

It was a short 3 mile and 1 lock journey to our chosen mooring at Overton Lake.  However not a simple one.  The entrance to Orton lock is partially obstructed by a mudbank, the area being indicated by a set of yellow buoys.  Inside this area there was a narrowboat which looked stuck with the backside of the captain pointing up as he was removing weed from the prop.  We naturally offered to help and with some careful steering were able to get our stern near enough for him to throw us a rope.  This was tied to our stern and we were able to pull the boat off the mud and with the assistance of a passing cruiser were able to get him into the lock moorings.
Densie (furthest narrowboat) moored in Overton Lake
Our good deeds done we ascended the lock and cruised on to Overton Lake via a narrow channel from the River.  The lake forms part of a country park and has a few good moorings.  Unfortunately kama did not apply and our previous good needs were not rewarded by available space.  We were about to leave and start on a long journey to the next opportunity for mooring when the crew of "Dragonfly" who we had met earlier in the day in Peterborough returned to their boat and allowed us to moor alongside.  So it all worked out sell in the end.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

And it's Peterborough again

We continue to retrace our steps.  We left Whittlesey at 9:00, moved up off the Middle Levels at Stanground Lock and moored on the Nene at Peterbrough just before lunchtime.  The boat will be here until Wednesday morning so we can to replenish our stores and visit our fathers.  So no blog until Wednesday.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


The boatyard guy moving our boat to start on the servicing before we had breakfast and quickly changed the oil and filters and fixed the broken engine compartment hatch.  We left the Marina at 9:50 and cruised onwards through the Middle Levels in sunny weather though with a headwind.  We travelled fairly quickly up the Old River Nene but when we turned on to Whittlesey Dyke we slowed down to about 2.5 mph because the waterway was narrow and shallow with a fairly strong current, and of course the headwind.

Despite the uninteresting flat scenery mostly hidden by high banks we spent a lot of this section of the journey looking at the numerous fish in the clear waters around the boat.  Mostly perch I think with red fins though we did see one larger fish about 1 foot long - perhaps a bream, though I know very little about fish.  Eventually the waterway broadened and our speed increased but the waters became silty and so we could no longer see the fish.
Moored at Whittlesey
We entered the fenland town of Whittlesey past warehouses and other modern industrial buildings, up the one lock and moored for the day at the town leisure centre at 2pm.  During the afternoon we walked into town - most of the many small shops were closed on Saturday afternoons and there is little else of interest.

Friday, 14 August 2015

It's March, it's raining

It rained most of the day after heavy rain and a thunderstorm last night, but not a problem as we had planned to spend the day in March anyway.  In the morning we shopped for the next 5 days and in the afternoon in between rain showers we moved Densie 1 mile on to moor at Fox Narrowboats where she will be serviced in the morning.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

March again

We have now returned to March where we will stay for a couple of days.  It was an easy 7 mile journey from Upwell.   The forecast 50% probability rain didnt happen and the only wind was behind us so we were able to keep up a good 3.5 mph.  We arrived just before lunch.  The official town moorings were full so we have moored opposite them against a grassy bank.

Our first job was to take the washing to the launderette.  It was ready 2 hours later after lunch.  Tomorrow's main job is a bit of shopping as we are now nearly out of fresh groceries again.

No further blog until Saturday.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Back to Upwell

Well Creek at Upwell - it's not the Great Ouse!

Moored at Upwell (2nd boat)
Last night we were woken at 4am by a knocking on the boat.  Nothing sinister, just the ducks enjoying an early breakfast scraping the weed and algae off the side of the hull.  We only made a short journey today.  6 miles up the narrow and shallow Well Creek to the long waterside village of Upwell where we moored just before lunchtime by the old and unfortunately locked church.  Two of the other boats that had crossed from the Great Ouse yesterday later joined us.

We walked to Brian Tweed, the nearest local butchers (Upwell has 3!) and bought some home-made haslet for lunch and sausages which we will enjoy this evening.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Salters Lode - back on the Middle Levels

We left Littleport at 9:40 and had an uneventful journey to Denver Lock where we moored at lunchtime.  We needed to lock onto the tidal River Ouse but couldnt do so until the tide was sufficiently high for us to pass over the mudbanks.  Also there were 3 other narrowboats ahead of us in the queue.  By 6 pm conditions were right and the lock was ready for us to, oddly we thought, ascend.  Oddly because when we had come the other way we also ascended  from the tidal section.
In Denver Lock
Once through the lock its just half a mile or so of tidal waters before a left turn to Salter's Lode Lock.  The turn is not easy as the lock has a narrow entrance making an acute angle with the direction of travel.  Also of course there is the tide coming in countered to a varying extent by the river waters flowing down and some dangerous mudbanks..   We had a slight problem as I misjudged the turn and we got pinned by the tidal flow against a fence in the water,  However as we were close to slack water, a short period of calm before the tide turns, the engine had sufficient power to spin the boat against the tidal flow and get us into the lock.  Embarrassing but nothing to worry about.

One of the previous boats had major problems with the then strong tide.  They had turned too soon and caught a mudbank.  The tidal flow then pushed the boat over to the extent of raising the bottom of the hull above water level.  The lock keeper who was watching thought that the boat could well have capsized.

After the excitements we were happy when we moored for the night at Salter's Lode  at 6:30.

Monday, 10 August 2015


We are now preparing to leave the fens and travel back to the Nene at Peterborough.  However, one more stop, Littleport, a small town/village  0.5 miles from the Great Ouse, which have never visited before.

The weather forecast showed heavy rain by midday so we go up relatively early.  During breakfast we were rewarded by further good views of the kingfisher, though it kept to the far side of the river this time.    By 9am we were on our way up the Lark to the Great Ouse.  Then turn right downstream.

A few days ago I mentioned the knocking sound when we pushed the revs.  It sounded like something lose in th engine compartment though I couldnt find what.  Since then I had rechecked the weed hatch and found that although  the prop was clean I removed a large ball of blanketweed wound around the bar below the prop that supports the rudder, I dont know its technical name.  So we were keen to push the engine a bit to see if the problem was fixed.  No knocking!!  The boat ran more smoothly than it has for some time.  Yippee!

We arrived at Littleport moorings at 10:15 and were able to find a space.  Then a walk into town to see what was there.  Quite pleasant in a quiet sort of way with a few shops and restaurants, one of which was an Indian I had seen rated fairly highly on TripAdvisor.  So that's where we will be this evening..

Sunday, 9 August 2015

A day in Prickwillow

Densie moored on the Lark at Prickwillow
The mooring looked beautiful when we got up this morning, helped considerably by the clear blue sky and an absence of any wind.  During breakfast we were delighted when a kingfisher flew across the river and perched on the boat roof .  We couldnt see it on the roof but had a great view of it coming in with outstretched wings just before it landed.  The boat is surrounded by fish but sadly the bird flew off again without feeding.

During the day we visited the pumping engine museum with its 5 large diesel engines, mainly from the 1920s, and saw a couple of them running.  There were also some vintage cars and a working old steam fire-engine apparently discovered in storage in the 1980's.  The engines are maintained by volunteers who also run the museum.  It is all very well done and the museum is definitely worth a visit.

We then had a quick look around the village.  Not only has it no shops nor a pub, its old church faced in the East Anglian style with flint cobbles is closed and looking very neglected .  The stained glass has been removed, some windows are broken, and the churchyard is waist high in weeds - all very sad.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Prickwillow on the River Lark

After a very quiet night we returned to Ely for a pump-out and to refill with water.  These tasks done we continued downstream before turning right onto the River Lark, one of the main tributaries of the Great Ouse.  A couple of miles further on along this typical fenland waterway - high banks with little visibility of the flat farmland beyond - we have moored in the delightfully named small village of Prickwillow.  We aren't here for the shops, there aren't any, or to visit the pub as there isn't one.  What there is,though, is a museum of Fenland water drainage engines with a collection of old pumping engines.  These are run occasionally, the next time being tomorrow.   So we will stay here until Monday morning.

Friday, 7 August 2015

We didnt stay in Ely

This morning we visited both Tesco and Waitrose to buy a lot of groceries for food for the next 5 days.  The plan was to spend two nights in Ely before moving on.  However the town and waterfront are both very busy and we have seen the cathedral before so we decided to spend the second night  out in the countryside.  Just 3 miles further south near the village of Little Thetford.

Coming up the river we heard annoying rattling noises from the engine compartment.  I dont think it's anything serious, most likely some bits and pieces knocking together but we couldnt discover what.  So I have removed anything that could rattle to the front of the boat and we will see what happens tomorrow.  When doing this I noticed that engine hatch has partially come away from one of its hinges.  Closer inspection revealed that the screws used to attach the hinges when the boat was built were woefully inadequate.  Unfortunately the hatch will need to be removed completely to provide access for refitting the hinge.  I dont fancy doing this as it involves unscrewing the hinges from the boat metalwork and I dont have the tools to deal with anything going wrong such as a screw breaking.  So we will have to make do til we can get help from a boatyard in a couple of weeks time.

Thursday, 6 August 2015


Travelling up the Great Ouse

Ely Cathedral on a hill is visible for miles around
Left our mooring at 9am and cruised at over 4mph the whole 9 miles to Ely in grey and windy weather.  Its not an exciting stretch of waterway .  The section in the photograph is about 2.5 miles absolutely straight with nothing more to see than is apparent in that view. One usually knows where one is on the map from the few wires, mainly power lines, that cross the river.  Here there are none.

Moored at Ely along side Charlotte May
Our hope was to find somewhere available to moor in Ely which we knew could be difficult as it is a very popular place to stop and the only riverside town of any size between Kings Lynn and Huntingdon..  We couldnt see any space free from one end of the town to the other, but fortunately the crew of "Charlotte May" a similar sized narrow boat to ours, invited us to moor alongside.  Even better the mooring was outside a pub that seems to serve good food.  So here we are for a couple of days.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Back up the Great Ouse

After a very enjoyable stay on the Wissey we left the moorings this morning and cruised back to the Great Ouse, turned left and carried on up stream.  First stop was the waterpoint about half a mile away.  As the last time we filled up was in Cambridge a week ago this was becoming urgent, although measurement with a dipstick did suggest we were perhaps 2 days away from running out.

Then on our way again in strong wind though we were able to keep up a good average speed of over 4mph.  We stopped for the day at 12:00 at some isolated EA moorings after about 5 miles.  Not a long journey but the travel in the wind wasnt fun.   A longer voyage tomorrow as we need to get to Ely to stock up - we have minimal lunches, and are one day away from emergency rations for dinner  and breakfast..

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Another day on the Wissey

Densie moored on the Wissey
 When we got up in the morning the sun was shining and Densie looked wonderful moored in this idyllic place.  So we decided to spend the day here and move on tomorrow.

Sluices controlling water passing down the Great Ouse - the channel on the right goes to.....

Sluices to control water flowing down the Relief Channel

Great Ouse Sluice and Lock - note narrowboat waiting to enter the lock

During the morning we walked the 5 mile round trip to the Denver Complex.  This location controls almost all the water that drains from the Fens by a set of large weirs and sluices.  These provide the main line of defence in flood conditions.  Upstream we have the New and Old Bedford Rivers, the Great Ouse and the Cut-Off Channel mentioned a couple of days ago.    Downstream there is the tidal Great Ouse and the Relief Channel,  This latter waterway built in the 1960s takes enormous amounts of flood water from the Great Ouse and the Cut-off Channel in a straight line course directly to the sea at Kings Lynn.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Rewind to Saturday

We returned from the end of the Wissey back to where we moored on Saturday night about 1/2 mile from the junction with the Great Ouse.  Again a very enjoyable journey and the flow of the river helped us achieve a higher seed than on Sunday but we were hampered by a strong head/side wind.  Another Kingfisher seen but less common was the Turtle Dove we passed at Wissington Sugar Beet works.  Its longer and thinner than a wood pigeon with brown tortoise-shell patterning on its wings.  We have only ever seen one before and that was in the fens on our last trip.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Up the Wissey to the end of navigation

On the Wissey
Wissington Sugar Beet Works

Cruising through the lake at Wisington
 A slow start today as we were undecided whether to spend a day where we were or to carry on with our journey.  We eventually set off just before midday and travelled up stream in very pleasant mainly sunny weather.  Oddly the river gets wider and deeper as you go upstream and so our speed increased from around 2.5 mph to 3 mph.  The scenery is lovely as the river meanders between low banks through wooded countryside.  Not so good for wildlife though as we only saw 1 kingfisher.

We intended to stop in the village of Hilgay where our Guide indicated EA moorings and a water tap, but we couldnt see much evidence of either, so we decided to carry on.  A possible problem as we last filled up with water in Cambridge 4.5 days ago and there are no other facilities on the Wisey.  However  we have lasted 7 day before so we should be OK.

  Half way on the journey we passed the enormous Wissington Sugar Beet works - impressive rather than attractive, and unfortunately it wasnt working.  Perhaps the sugar beet harvest hasnt started yet.  Beyond the works we were soon in perhaps the most attractive section of the journey where the river passes through a large tree lined lake.

Then onwards over the non-navigable Cut-off channel where the water from rivers feeding the Great Ouse is diverted and sent quickly to the coast when the rivers are in flood.  At 3pm we moored up shortly before  the point where we will have to turn around as we are too long to proceed further.  A bit of an anticlimax as the mooring is a short stretch of riverside barely longer than the boat in a camp site next to an A-road bridge.  Never mind, it's been a very enjoyable day.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Moored on the River Wissey

Last time we were in the fens 7 years ago we deliberately avoided a journey up the River Wissey so that we had a good reason to return in the future.  The time has now arrived
Moored on the Wissey
We left last night's mooring just after 10am and travelled north on the Great Ouse in pleasant weather through largely deserted countryside before turning right shortly before Denver Sluice onto the much smaller Wissey.  There we moored for the day half a mile east of the junction at 1pm.   Its an attractive place   as shown in the photograph.  Behind the camera there is a wood, largely silver birch.