Nene Park, Ferry Meadows, Overton Lake

Nene Park, Ferry Meadows, Overton Lake are all names which can describe where we are today/night.

We left our mooring on Peterborough Embankment around 10 ‘ish this morning. Leaving the huge community of swans, geese, and ducks, plus  a few cormorants, coots, and pigeons thrown into the mix.

We had a lovely cruise toward Orton Lock. John took Cyan into the lock after dropping me off at the lock landing. After lowering the guillotine gate, and helping John wrap the centre line around a bollard to control her, I opened a paddle on one of the top gates just enough so not to rock Cyan too much. When the level was right, I opened the gate for John to sail through and wait on the lock landing while I reset the lock, leaving the guillotine in the up position. This will now become ‘routine’.

It was a short journey to our mooring at Ferry Meadows. This time of visiting, Cyan was reversed into the mooring, which means Rusty will only have to walk along a 3 metre stretch on the ‘cheese grater’ pontoon, which is really hard on his paws. When we were here last, Cyan was moored with the bow towards the bank, leaving Rusty to have to walk quite an uncomfortable distance to get on the land from the stern. He finds it really difficult to walk on this type of surface, which prompted a question, last time we were here from a neighbouring boater, “How long has your dog had bad arthritis?”

A pleasure boat takes passengers around the lake.

There’s a pleasure boat that takes paying passengers around the lake. We can hear the Captain/Driver on his tannoy, as he sails past us, explaining that there are no crocodiles, killer wales, or sharks in the lake, only soft ducks! During one of the trips, he expanded on his rhetoric, “See those narrowboats moored there, well under the water where the boats are moored, there was a bad accident years ago, whereby a JCB tipped over, killing the driver. Every now and again the ghost of the man raises out of the water to frighten people. There’s even been times when people have said they’d heard Elvis singing!” That’s all good fun I know, but when you suffer from over imagination, the least thing your imagination needs is stimulation! Hope I can get a good night’s sleep tonight 🙂 Just in case though, I did have a Google search, and thankfully nothing came up about a terrible accident, or a ghost!

Cyan, nestled on her mooring

A fabulous piece of artwork, cut out of a thick tree trunk. The children think it’s wonderful to climb onto the ducks.

When John took Rusty for a walk, he returned with a very nice Spanish lady, and her partner. The husband has been trying to persuade his Spanish wife that they should buy a narrowboat. John brought her back to the boat to have a look around Cyan as she’s never been aboard a narrowboat before. We were talking for quite a while, they wanted to know about things like cars, how much it costs a month, how do we keep warm in the winter, all the usual things. Hope one day we’ll meet them on a canal somewhere, when they have their boat.

We’re aiming to get to Wansford Station Railway Museum moorings tomorrow, John’s hoping there will be some engines fired up and in steam on Saturday. We’ll have to wait and see.

Today we’ve travelled 3.5 miles, and through one lock.

Off The Middle Levels And Onto The River Nene

After our neighbour boat left for Stanground Lock this morning, we held back for about 10 minutes to give the boaters space. Think we left our mooring at Whittlesey about 8:45 am.

At the first ‘leg’ of the journey we travelled through a very narrow ‘drain’ with a tight 45 deg turn, I was dispatched to the bow on ‘look out’ in case we came bow-to-bow with another boat.

Weed Cutters, keeping the channels open for navigation

The nearer we got to Stanground Lock, the more dense the duck weed.

We arrived ‘dead on time’ (surprisingly) at the lock, and we were soon on The River Nene again.

We’re now moored on the moorings at Peterborough Embankment. Though we had a bit of a scare this afternoon; the moorings have a slight curve, so when the aft and fore is securely tied, the middle of the boat is about 10 inches or so away from the edge of the mooring.

We were inside having a cuppa, when there was a series of bangs on the side of our boat, then lots of screaming and shouting. It turns out a 4 or 5 year old boy had been playing around, possibly he was pushed by another kiddie, making him lose his footing, and he fell between the side of the mooring and our boat. Thank God his mum was near enough to grab him, He was tearful and shocked but otherwise non the worse for his soaking, if he’d have gone down under the water, he could have easily been trapped under the boat, or maybe he could have even got crushed.  Looking how the child was wet, he must have been in the water up to his neck. How quickly a tragedy can manifest.

A quick tour of Asda with the ‘granny trolley’ was needed to stock up on essentials. Trouble is, fresh fruit, veg, and salads don’t keep for long in hot weather. We might need to look for more supplies before we get to Northampton.

We’ve been planning where we’re hoping to overnight as we cruise along the Nene, and the conversation morphed into where will we be going after the Nene. Our next plan is to visit Stratford, with our aim being the Stratford Ring and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Our plan just might take us up to the end of Autumn.

Today we’ve travelled 5 miles and one lock.

It Pays To Complain

After quite a wet start to the day, by 9:00 am the sun was shining. By 10:00 am, Rusty had been walked (or run) in the park, we’d had our breakfast, and were ready to roll. We had a couple of quick duties to perform at the sanny nearby, and then we were on our way, heading to Whittlesey.

The water appears quite low in some areas, yet in other areas the water is crystal clear, making it very easy to see the fish swimming.

There’s another boat, moored in front of us, will be going through Stanground Lock at 10:00 am, our time is 10:30; which means we’ll be setting off tomorrow, about half an hour after the other boat has left.

Where we’re moored, at the top of Ashline Lock

John read an article last week about insurance. The article explained that insurance premiums are down this year by 11% on 2017 figures. Coincidentally we received a reminder that our boat insurance is up for renewal in a couple of weeks, and of course, the renewal cost has gone up. John wrote to the insurance company asking for an explanation why the renewal premium had gone up, when insurance premiums have gone down. John received an answer today, the insurance company underwriters had agreed to reduced the premium by about 11% – it really does pay to complain.

We moored alongside a park, one of Rusty’s favourite places.

Passing Through Marmont Priory Lock

Yesterday was a pretty dire day, not so much wet, but depressingly grey after being use to such sunny weather. We even had to run the engine a couple of times during the day to boost the batteries, quite a difference from last week where the batteries were on float for most of the day after being charged by the solars.

This morning we left our Upwell mooring around 9:30 am; after ‘borrowing’ the key for the water point from The Five Bells PH to brim Cyan’s water tank. We wanted to get Cyan’s bow as low in the water as possible. We had a bit of trouble going through the low bridges on the Middle Levels when we passed through a month ago. We’re not absolutely sure, but we think the Middle Levels have risen by an inch or so because of Friday’s storms, therefore it was essential we stripped the roof, making Cyan sit in the water as low as possible.

You can see in the pic below; there wasn’t much room to spare.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Marmont Priory Lock, and we rang the bell as requested. Out came the lovely Maureen, the owner/lock keeper. While we were working the lock, she had me in stitches with her tales of being a lock keeper. I felt quite humbled that she helped us through the lock; what a lovely lady she is. She was rather made up with Rusty as she used to have two German Shepherds. To her credit, they were both 17 years old when they died. She kept wistfully saying that Rusty looked so much like her ‘Shadow’.

Maureen also mentioned the Friday storm, saying she’d never seen anything like it. The mini tornado that whizzed through Upwell, also visited her garden. It brought down a tree, and stripped the apples from her fruit trees. She lost electric, which didn’t return until after midnight.

Passing the wind farm, I didn’t notice how high the turbines were when we passed through a month ago.

We managed to moor just before the bridge in March. There’s a Portuguese chippy right next to the mooring, which was too tempting to ignore. After lunch I took myself off to the shops.

One of the handiest ‘tools’ we use, is a long handled paint stick, the type you stick a roller on the end. We bought it after we saw another boater use a ‘paint stick’ as a hook when he picked up the end of a mooring chain, after threading it through a piece of armco. It ‘saves’ arthritic knees! We’ve had our ‘stick’ for a while now, using it for many jobs, such as hooking ropes from bows, and other items that are just beyond our reach. The trouble was, I’d used the ‘stick’ as a sort of ‘poker’ for the bbq, and managed to leave it on the side of the river bank. Therefore, I was on a mission to replace the stick as soon as possible. I found a great shop in March, the sort that’s full of all manner of interesting things. I bought two paint sticks (one that extends), spare water tap connections, jubilee clips, fly swats, elastic, sticky tape…. you get my drift. I also had a quick scoot round Tesco Express.

Tomorrow, after visiting the sanny station, we’re heading for Whittlesey. At 10:30 am on Wednesday we’ve booked our passage through Stanground Lock.

Today we’ve travelled 13.25 miles, and through one lock.

Two Tempests On The Ouse

What an evening we had last night! We’d been following the local weather at Denver Sluice, and saw the Met Office had issued not one, but two ‘Yellow Weather Alerts’ for thunder and lightening. After a lovely afternoon where the river was calm, and hardly moving, we suddenly found ourselves in a ‘mother and father’ of a storm. The wind got up, dark clouds formed, then we suffered thunder and lightening. Rain and hailstones hit Cyan with force. We were on deck securing the canopy, and forgot there were a couple ‘hopper’ windows open. It was shocking to see rain had been ‘driven’ into Cyan through the small window openings. The ceiling was soaked, as was the galley, and our laptops! The rain lashed on and off right into today’s early hours, as did strong gusts of wind.

We were rather worried (at least I was, if John was worried he kept it very quiet); we had a 9:00 am passage through Denver Sluice, and with today’s high winds, and strong gusts, it all looked very daunting.  Unfortunately, five other boats had also been booked to go through at 9:00, and we all turned up on the dot of 9! There’s really only room for one boat on the lock landing, which resulted in three boats breasting up together. The fourth boat turned around and managed to get into the only space available by ‘Jenyns Inn’ PH. As we were the last to arrive (still on the dot of 9), we were forced to try and seek a little shelter from the wind, near the back of the lock landing, all the time trying to tread water. It seemed hopeless…. eventually John managed to get Cyan’s bow into a short space at the end of the landing, where I managed to jump onto the landing, securing Cyan enough to stop her being blown off course by the strong winds.

By the time we were through Denver Sluice, it was 11:00, and without too much time to spare before the tide turned. A quick dash down the tidal stretch and John balanced the wind and tidal flow to swing Cyan into Salter’s Lode Lock entrance. I couldn’t see the lock and thought we were heading for a fence, luckily John’s eyes are better than mine, and he knew Cyan had to be manoeuvred behind the fence to line up for the entrance. Hairy moment, thankfully completed without any drama!

Leaving Salter’s Lode Lock

Chatting to Paul, Salter’s Lode’s lock keeper, it appears Upwell had a mini tornado go through the village last evening, causing quite a bit of damage. Part of the village had it’s power supply cut, including the Five Bells pub. Apparently the pub’s Landlord took orders for fish ‘n’ chips from his customers; picking up the order from the local chippy in Outwell, which still had power.

The journey to Upwell was quite a battle with the wind. Most of the time Cyan ‘crabbed’ her way through the water.

With four boats going through the lock before us, we thought we wouldn’t be able to find a mooring at Upwell. When we arrived we saw one of the boats moored on the landing, but there was also a Fox’s hire boat taking up two spaces. We stopped, and asked the ‘holiday makers’ if they would make room for us. They said they weren’t stopping, and after having a nice bit of a natter with them, they moved off, and we tucked ourselves next to the other moored boat. At lease if any boat needs to take on water, there’s now space.

We’d like to move on to March tomorrow, but the weather forecast looks abysmal. Perhaps we’ll hunker down, and wait for the better weather that’s forecast for Monday. There could be worse places to shelter from the stormy weather!

Today we’ve travelled 6.5 miles, and through two locks.

Our Last Day On The Great Ouse

Last night at around bedtime the temperature was still 23C; how were we going to get to sleep? The promised 8:00 pm thunderstorm didn’t materialise, and we were left in very humid conditions. Needless to say we abstained from our usual bedtime mug of cocoa, and had iced water instead.

We must have had some sleep as I was rudely awakened by loud bangs, and bright sparks at 4:30 am. For nearly two hours there was a glorious light show, with huge claps of thunder.

John managed to sleep through quite a bit of it. Just as we were thinking the thunderstorm looked like it’s going to miss us again, the heavens opened.

Rusty looked to be quite calm with the thunder and lightening, taking his cue from us I should think. But that was before there was one huge ‘clap’, which sounded like it was right above us. The ‘bang’ made us jump, and Rusty fled to the back of the boat. If the stern doors had been open, I think he’d have been off… though I doubt he’d a plan in his head, except to bolt. Rubbing his chest is always a good trick to pacify him, which meant we had to take turns ‘pacifying’ him, until the storm abated.

I’m sure the grass looks greener after the rain?

By 8:45 am, the storm had moved on, leaving us with bright sunshine, though it felt very humid like we were in a sauna.

Leaving our mooring, and waving ‘good bye’ to the boaters who moored behind us.

The Grebe Family – were these the same little ones who ‘hitched’ rides on their mum’s back when we passed this way a few weeks ago?

A garden glass pod! Looks very futuristic

Approaching Ten Mile Railway Bridge

A ‘mum’ with ‘big’ babies

A ‘mum’ with much smaller babies

We’re now moored near Denver Sluice, ready to pass through the Sluice around 9:00 am tomorrow morning. After a short ‘tidal’ journey, we’re hoping for a ‘smooth’ entry into Salter’s Lode Lock. We’ve got two yellow weather alerts for thunderstorms during the night; our fingers are crossed for a good night’s sleep!

Waving ‘So Long’ To Ely

We were the last to leave the GA moorings Tuesday. Gosh was the weather hot!

We cruised as far as Twenty Pence Marina, and decided to turn around and cruise back along the Ouse, and onto Ely.

A lonely tree – think we’re really missing the trees

We were in need of a larger collapsible table for outside use. While John was on the tiller, I popped downstairs to to order one online from Argos. I chose one that looked ‘just the thing’, and at 60cm width, it would fit perfectly under the Pulman’s floor when ‘the season’ ends.

As soon as we arrived in Ely, we got a message from Argos saying our purchase was ready to collect from Sainsburys. We thought that was pretty good service.

We moored practically next to the services, though I was rather worried in case we’d over stayed our allotted time in Ely. In the two other times we were moored in Ely, we didn’t over stay the 48 hours allowed, but I wasn’t sure if there was a stipulation on how long we had to stay away before we could return to the mooring.  I needn’t have worried; John read the notice asking boaters not to return for 48 hours. Phew, we were legal after-all!

We were ready to leave early yesterday morning, but just as we were untying Cyan’s mooring ropes, a wide beam passed us beating us to the services. They could see we were holding Cyan’s lines, obviously waiting to go onto the service moorings. When the boaters  of the widebeam was waiting to fill his water tank, he walked towards us. My first words to him was that we were in no hurry, so not to feel harassed. Think he felt relieved, though he did ‘stake a claim’ to our moorings. He was as anxious as we were that a boat didn’t come along and take the mooring just after we’d left, while we were anxious that a boat didn’t arrive and beat us once again to the services.  See how stressful life can be on the water 😉

After Elsan services, water tank filled, and rubbish dumped, we set off; mooring just before Brandon Creek. We had another bbq, and stayed outside in the pleasant evening air for as long as we could.

We rose quite late this morning, after both of us didn’t sleep very well. By the time we’d had breakfast, and showered, it was 11:30 am. Neither of us were feeling enthusiastic due to the heat to do anything today, so we stayed put. We did phone the lock keeper at Denver Sluice though, and we’re booked for a passage through the sluice at 9:00 am on Saturday.

Out Comes The Sewing Machine

When we moored at Littleport on Friday morning, the ‘entertainment’ was just about starting. It started off with the weed-cutter, then over a dozen cruiser boats started to arrive for a meet-up.

Weed cutter

There looked to be a meeting of SunSeaker boats for the weekend, and some of them looked very posh, though mooring them was quite a spectacle. It appears the ‘lady on the boat’s job’ was to balance on the deck ready to jump off with the mooring ropes, while their ‘captain’ attempted to moor. Several times the ‘captain’ mis calculated his approach, and had to take the boat ‘around again’, all the while the boat skipped and jumped on the water for another go. Another ‘job’ for the ladies; was to hang over the side of the boat, and use their arms and legs as a sort of fender to save their boat from crashing into neighbouring boats. We don’t now if it’s difficult to moor this type of boat….  but it was a revelation!

Once the shuffling had finished the ‘UBC’ boat crews descended on the ‘Swan on the River’ for a ‘royal’ gathering, a great time was had by all, and well into the night!

Circling around again for ‘another’ go at mooring.

We were on ‘thunder and lightening’ watch on Friday night. In this part of the world, the Met Office had a yellow warning for a thunder storm with a lot of rain. It’s shocking to say we were disappointed when the storm failed to materialise.

We left our mooring before 9 am yesterday (Saturday) morning while the ‘UBC’ members were still slumbering.

We arrived at Ely to find there was a boat on the service mooring, the boater was busy doing what was necessary. We saw a mooring further along where we could moor while we collected our new bbq, did some shopping, and bided our time until it was our turn for the service mooring.

After securing Cyan, all three of us (Rusty included), walked to Sainsburys. It wasn’t long before we’d returned with some shopping, a new fan, and of course the new bbq. John set about putting the bbq together, while I set off to visit the outdoor market, and to find the material shop ‘Sew Much To Do’.  I wanted to buy a length of material that’s suitable for fly screens.

The market’s very quaint, as was Ely, with lots of very pretty old buildings. At ‘Sew Much To Do’ I bought some white muslin – this should keep the flies and mosquitos at bay!

The service mooring looked to be continually occupied, and rather than wait any longer, John took a cassette and rubbish to the services using the fold up sack barrow, thinking we’ll forego filling the water tank as the gauge registered 6 (out of 10), meaning we could get by for a few days.

Lots of people were mulling about in the sunshine, eating ice cream, picnicking, or just having a stroll; their main point of interest appearing to be the boats.

Watched by an audience we pushed off.

Once again we saw NB Small World, we’d been playing ‘leap frog’ with them since the beginning of our journey on the Nene.

At first glance we thought this swan had managed to tangle itself with a piece of wire, when we got close it was obviously weed.

We moored on Little Thetford 48 hour mooring (as did NB Small World). In the cool of the evening we lit our bbq, and it didn’t disappoint 🙂 .

We stayed on the mooring today as I wanted to sew the fly screens for the hatch, and the cratch doors (I’m looking forward to leaving the cratch doors and the hatch open tonight). I also made a bag to keep the bbq tidy out of some white spotted on blue leatherette material. It should stop a ‘dirty’ bbq rubbing against other items in the boat.

Tomorrow we’re planning to call into the ‘Fish and Duck’ marina to exchange our empty gas bottle for a new one, top up with diesel, and hopefully water.

Catching Up In The Heat

We’ve been very lax with keeping up our diary this past fortnight. My excuse is that it’s been rather hot, and that we’ve not really travelled much over the past week, so there’s not been a lot to write about. Basically, we’ve been enjoying ourselves being very lazy, and enjoying the lovely weather.

On Saturday morning, 7th July we cruised into ‘River Island Marina’ on the River Lark (alongside Isleham Lock) for three nights. We’d booked a couple of tickets for the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, to see the Gypsy Kings, while we were moored at Abingdon on the Thames. This led us to a leisurely cruse down the Grand Union, onto the River Nene, the Middle Levels, onto the Great Ouse, and then onto the River Lark. Ann, John’s sister, very kindly offered to dog-sit Rusty, and to take us to the Corn Exchange. Think the River Island Marina was the nearest point we could get to Bury St. Edmunds where Ann Lives. We had a brilliant time, and the Gypsy Kings didn’t disappoint. (Thank you Ann x).

There’s a rather special farm butcher’s shop within easy walking distance of the marina. All their meat is home grown on the farm. Afraid I bought quite a bit of meat, including some very tasty sausages. Trouble is, unless you’re in the marina, it would be a problem to visit the farm shop as there isn’t any moorings close by.

On Tuesday morning, after we’d filled Cyan’s water tank, finished sanny duties, and receiving a huge Tesco delivery, we left the marina. We were slightly at a loss as we now don’t have an ‘aim’, nor any time restraint, we’re cut loose!

Leaving the River Lark

Back onto the Great Ouse, after leaving the River Lark

Tuesday and Wednesday night saw us mooring at Ely. It’s a lovely place, with a bit of buzz about it.

We had a lovely surprise while we were there, Christine and Mike from NB Alchemy knocked on our cabin. Thank you both for coming to see us 🙂 . We had a lovely chat, Christine and Mike know a lot about the Ouse, and they tempted us to sail further on towards St Neots and possibly Bedford. We’d been toying with turning around, and ambling our way back onto the canal system; thinking we’d arrive back on the network sometime early September.

Ely’s Civic pride – hope the gorgeous displays cope with the heat and (possibly) lack of water

Leaving our mooring at Ely

Ely Southern Bypass – under construction. Flags of St. George flying high and proud in support of England’s World Cup attempt.

Passing Soham Lode

We were still unsure whether to turn right at Popes Corner, or turn right around. I persuaded John to turn around, and to let’s think about where we want to go over the weekend.

Popes Corner where we did a ‘U’ turn.

Nearby to Popes Cornere there’s an EA 48 hour mooring, this turned out to be our ‘home’ for the next 2 nights.

It must be lovely to cool your feet

Monday morning saw us making our way into Ely again, this time with a plan to order a small, round, cast iron bbq from Ebay, to be delivered to Sainsburys where we could pick it up. We’d seen another boater with one similar, and it looked just perfect.

Ely Cathedral

Large and small boats

Ely moorings, next to the Cutter’s Inn

My ‘point and snap’ digital camera has been playing up for months, charging the battery had become a bit of ‘hit and miss’ exercise. While we were moored in Ely, my lovely husband bought me an early birthday present; a super duper Sony 64x zoom camera. It’s got lots of ‘stops and whistles’ to ‘experiment’ with, and I’m pretty sure it wont be long before taking a few pics will become ‘easy’.

Wednesday morning saw us sailing out of Ely once again, this time in the direction of the River Lark. We moored at the Diamond Moorings just before the Lark, killing time and playing with my new camera, until we’re called to collect the bbq.

Trolling? In this situation, trolling means ‘trolling for fish’ using nets, or with multiple fishing rods

Tonight we’re moored by the ‘Swan on the River’ pub at Littleport. We’ve received an email from Ebay saying the bbq has arrived, and is ready to pick up.  We plan to return to Ely tomorrow morning to pick up the bbq, buy some bbq briquettes, fresh salad and veg, and top up with some alcohol at Sainsburys. I’ve also a mind to visit the sewing shop (as per Google maps) to buy some voile to make fly screens for the hatch and the doors at the bow. The flies, and mosquitos have been a pain over the past few weeks.

After water and sanny duties once again carried out, we’ll be on our way to visit St Neots, and perhaps Bedford.

This is a new journey of 224 miles, and 94 locks, before our return to Braunston.

Nature In Distress

As we left our overnight mooring by ‘The Ship’, we both commented how impressed and delighted we are by the variety of birds and wildlife on the Ouse. There’s always something to see, even if its fish swimming around just under the surface of the water.

Not far from where we were moored looks to be a nice mooring. We’ve made a mental note to stop here on our way back.

It wasn’t long before we came to Littleport, John and Rusty stayed on Cyan, while I set off with my ‘granny trolley’ to pay a visit to the CoOp. Littleport is a quiet little place, with a variety of big/small, new/old houses. I was rather upset with the CoOp as there were no strawberries on sale. It appears to happen every year, even when we lived in Spain, as soon as Wimbledon starts; strawberries become hard to find – or so it appears to me. Still, I did manage to fill the trolley with ‘other’ fresh fruit and veg, plus various extra bits to tide us over until we can get a Tesco delivery this weekend.

We were soon on our way again, and it wasn’t long before we turned left onto the River Lark. We passed a couple of GOBA moorings, and on hindsight we should have moored on them, but we wanted to moor by Prickwillow Bridge, next to Prickwillow Engine Museum.

At Prickwillow there are two EA 48 hour moorings either side of the bridge, though for some reason, the first mooring we came to is ‘out of action’. We didn’t see the ‘no mooring’ sign until we attempted to moor.

You can just about see orange plastic fencing along the mooring, with a notice saying “No Mooring”. The waterpoint at the end looks clear of the orange fencing.

It’s not obvious why the mooring is out of use, it looks perfectly fine to us, perhaps the mooring has become unsafe?

Sadly, about 200 metres before Prickwillow Bridge, there was a dead swan in the water. We don’t recall ever seeing a dead swan before, although they obviously do die. Just as we sailed under the bridge, there was another swan which was obviously dying. It’s mouth was opening and shutting as if it was gasping for air, it’s neck was down onto it’s back, and it kept shaking it’s head.

Not far from the bridge is another mooring. This time we successfully moored, and wasted no time trying to get help for the swan. Something must be wrong.

Despite not having a good phone signal, I phoned the Environment Agency as the Lark is one of their rivers. They couldn’t help, but they passed me through to the RSPCA….. Long story short, after no one answering the phone, redialling and phoning other numbers without success for an hour, we gave up on the RSPCA. We could still see the swan, in full sunshine, in a distressed state from where we were moored. John then took charge and phoned Cambridge Police for assistance. The lady on the other end of the phone obviously had an affinity with swans, and was sympathetic to our problem. She just said “Leave it with me.” She took our telephone number, and name of our boat.

About half an hour later, we got a phone call from an RSPCA Inspector saying he was on the bridge, and was looking at the swan. John joined him, to offer any help he could. The RSPCA inspector had been coming out of  court when the police phoned him, and he was still in his best ‘court clothes’.

Donning waders, and holding a hooked pole, he prodded the bank with the pole to test where he could step to get near to the swan. At one point the swan managed to swim towards the centre of the river, but soon gave up, leaving a small breeze to push her/him back towards the bank again, and close enough for the Inspector to ‘hook’ the swan with his pole. Once caught, the swan was placed in a special bag, making it easy to carry the swan without doing any damage.

The Inspector thinks the swan has been in distress for days as it was emaciated. His thoughts were that the swan, including the dead one, had been poisoned. Maybe not from any malicious act, but perhaps through a fungus brought on by the recent hot weather. He said that when he gets back to base, the vet will probably euthanize the swan, as it is so sick.  He’ll write a report for the Environment Agency, mentioning the other swan that had died. He doubted the Agency would bother with an autopsy to discover precisely how it died, as they are expensive.

We mentioned how difficult it was to get through to the RSPCA, and how we resorted to getting help via the police. The Inspector mentioned that due to the hot weather, they are extremely busy (dogs left in cars?).

Edited to say: Strange though, after being on the Great Ouse which is teeming with wildlife, there’s hardly any other wildlife here on the Lark. No ducks, moorhens, or even any other flying birds. Very strange.

We travelled 7.5 miles, and zero locks.