Monday, 16 July 2018

Journeys end

Approaching St Ives Lock

The ancient bridge in St Ives

Hemingford Grey church overlooks the river
We awoke to find that the river level had risen a few inches overnight and the boat was floating free.  If the level had fallen 2 inches we would have been very stuck.

In the very hot sun we took Densie through St Ives to moor at her new home in Hartford Marina, Huntingdon.  Our guidebook considers this section of the Great Ouse to be the best on the river. In our view it is difficult to argue with this assessment in that both the riverside settlements of St Ives and Hemingford Grey are very attractive and interesting places and the meandering river passing through the countryside provides some beautiful views unimpeded by the embankments of the fens.

So we end a wonderful journey with no further major trips  planned for this year.

Today: 6.78 miles 3 locks, 3 hours 30 minutes travelling

Totals for journey:
53 days away, 152.3 hours travelling, 289.37 miles, 159 locks, 2 lift bridges

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Off the Fens, back on the real Great Ouse

A river of duckweed this morning

Close-up view of duckweed

Late yesterday afternoon the invasion started.  Little green leaves of duckweed started floating down the river, stopping around the boats moored at Aldrith Drain Moorings.  By the morning the whole river had turned green, contrasting with the dry yellow grass to be found on the bank.

With some trepidation we set off at 9:15 uncertain as to whether it would hinder progress causing frequent visits down the weed hatch.  Fortunately, although we weren't able to travel faster than about 2 mph we only had to stop once to clear the prop and that was because of general waterweed.  After about 0.75 miles the duckweed cleared and we were able to continue at a reasonable speed.

Bercause of the hot sun we put up our large umbrella/sunshade attached to the tiller which allowed the steerer to travel in relative comfort.  But there wasnt room for two so the other person sat in the front of the boat which povided some shade, the sun being behind us.    Whilst I was at the front I was pleased to see a kingfisher which sadly Denise missed, only our second one in the past 7 weeks.
Approaching Hermitage Lock

Our stay on the Old West River ended with Hermitage Lock, which took us up to the tidal waters at Earith taking us out of the Fens and into the Great Ouse floodplain.  Here the river is almost back to its former state, wide and fairly deep, permitting effortless cruising at over 3 mph.  Brownhills Staunch raised us out of the tidal section and we reached the Goba moorings at Holywell not far from St Ives at lunchtime.
Moored at Holywell, gangplank is behind rope

Actually mooring took some time as the water was too shallow for us to go alongside the bank.  So we are resting 2-3 foot away from the side and have to use our gangplank to get ashore, the first time its use has been a necessity.

Today: 7.9 miles 2 locks 1 kingfisher 4 hours travelling.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Further up the Old West River

A hot day was forecast so we started early at 9am.  We made steady progress, but at 2.7 mph it was significantly slower than previous days on the lower river.
Lazy Otter Marina and pub

On the Old West River west of the Lazy Otter

Some duckweed but not enough to affect progress
The scenery has steadily improved as we travelled upstream, changing from the typical Fen waterway of a straight channel between two high embankments to something more akin to a real river.  The embankments are still there but are frequently at some distance from the often tree-lined waterway which meanders from one embankment to the other.   It seems as if the embankments were built when the river was more substantial before most of the flow was diverted in the 17th Century along the New and Old Bedford Rivers.
Moored near Aldreth

We stopped for the day just after 12:00 at Aldreth High Bridge GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association) moorings.  GOBA have created a useful set of basic moorings for its members along the Great Ouse and its tributaries.  Any boater cruising these waters would be well advised to pay the small membership fee to join GOBA.

This afternoon the weather has become hotter and more humid so we are glad we stopped.  As I write this blog the temperature in the cabin is around 30 degC.

Today: 7.75 miles, 3 hours travelling

Friday, 13 July 2018

On the Old West River

Passing through Ely

Moored at 100 Acres, Old West River
Went to the shops in Ely centre this morning to buy groceries for the final leg of our journey.  Left Ely just before 11am and then made an 80 minute cruise to just beyond Pope's Corner where the Cam joins the Great Ouse, tieing up at the isolated 100 Acre mooring where the only access is by boat.  This is on the section of the Great Ouse known as the Old West River. The reason for the name seems unclear.

The Old West River is much narrower and shallower than the Great Ouse prior to Pope's Corner and it can be subject to problems with weed.  So we will see tomorrow when a longer day's cruising will be necessary.

Today: 4 miles, 1 hour 20 minute cruising

Thursday, 12 July 2018


Ely Cathedral can be seen for miles
 5.5 uneventful miles in just over 1.5 hours took us to Ely where we moored at the northern end of the visitor moorings where we just slotted into an empty space with inches to spare.  We didnt want to travel further as we were afraid more central moorings would be full.  Later when we made the short walk to the city centre we discovered that there was plenty of space there.  However where we are should be quieter in the evening so we are staying.

After a visit to Ely Cathedral, we had lunch in the ElevenA cocktail bar where the food was very good and the fixed price lunch menu was good value.  following a quick look around the market, Angela left us and we returned to the boat.

To go back a bit into history - when we were in March last Sunday we had the boat serviced by Fox Narrowboats.  Since then we noticed an occasional small of diesel which I eventually traced to a small leak around the fuel filter.   I talked to Fox about the problem and they suggested a possible solution which didnt cure it.  So their technician visited us this afternoon in Ely, and appears to have fixed it by replacing an O ring.   These sort of problems are bound to occur from time to time, the important thing is that they are fixed with minimal delay and hassle and I am very happy to report very good service from Fox.

Today: 5.47m, 1 hour 40 minutes travelling.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018


A short entry today as there is little to say.  There are few sights of interest to see on this section of the Great Ouse.  Whilst travelling, the best way to find one's position is to check the power cable lines crossing the river against the map in the guidebook which helpfully provides this information.  Views of the surrounding countryside are limited by the high embankments on both sides.

However there are plus points.  The river is wide and deep so the engine was little more than ticking over at a speed of 3.5mph. The wildlife is of some interest.  We passed many family groups of Great Crested Grebes.  In one, the parent had caught a perch (we can recognise perch) and was feeding it to one of the chicks.   Further on we saw a cormorant with an eel in its beak.

We moored near Littleport, a small town about half a mile from the river.

Today: 9.3 miles, 0 locks, 3 hours 20 minutes travelling

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Salters Lode: Off the Middle Level, onto the Great Ouse

View of the Middle Level Main drain
The weather has turned cooler which is something of a relief.  We travelled from Upwell through the contiguous village of Outwell, over the wide but unnavigable Middle Level Main Drain arriving at Salter's Lode at 12:00 where the Lock takes us onto the tidal Great Ouse.
View of Denver Sluice at low tide

We can only pass through the lock when tide and waterlevel conditions are right so we had a 3 hour wait. After lunch on board we walked up the river bank to see the expanse of mudbanks exposed at low tide and to get a view of the Denver Sluice Complex which controls the flow of water from much of East Anglia.  The lock at Denver Sluice takes us from the tidal waters onto the non-tidal Great Ouse.
A 70 foot boat turning right out of Salter's Lode Lock
Approaching Denver Sluice Lock

At 15:30 the lock keeper arrived and 45 minutes later we were asked to enter Salter's Lode Lock, two boats having passed through ahead of us.  After a short delay caused by one of those two boats getting stuck on a mudbank we were on our way out of the lock into the incoming tide.  A quick right turn was helped considerably by the wind and the tide and we arrived in the Denver lock in 20 minutes.  After a short wait for another boat to join us we descended from the tidal water level.  Within half a mile we found moorings not far from the Jenyn Arms were we will eat this evening, and enjoy a well needed drink after today's excitements.

Today: 6.83 miles, 2 locks, 3hours 30 minutes travelling.