Planning Our Last Few Days On The Nene

We left our mooring at around 9:15 am, both of us feeling a little jaded after not sleeping very well, it was far too hot! Think last night’s heat was the warmest since this summer’s heat wave began. I must say the anticipated ‘reprieve’ being forecast will be very welcome. How long will it be before we’re all moaning about the rain and cold again?

John spotted a red kite that swooped down to the ground, and landed on the bank. By the time I fumbled with the camera, the kite was taking off.

For miles the kite looked to be following us.

There was just one lock today where I didn’t have to empty the lock after John sailed Cyan through. The boaters who were entering the full lock said they were on their way to the River Ouse. They’d decided on their journey after being fed up with North/West canals being short of water.

Travelling through Thrapston, and under the 9 arch bridge. Its origins are medieval, and was probably rebuilt in 1795

We’ve moored for the day on Woodford ‘Friends of the Nene’ mooring. When we moored we could hear a cow bellowing, and wondered if she was shouting for her calf, and fearing the shouting could last all night. Then we spotted the bull in the field just across from the river. At first he wasn’t too interested, but now he appears to be ‘fired up’, and is desperate to find way to cross the river.

Poor lovelorn bull!

  • Tomorrow night we’ve planned to moor above Ditchford Lock.
  • For Thursday night we’ve booked ourselves into White Mills Marina. We’re in need of diesel,  a replacement gas bottle, as well as sanny services. A Tesco delivery has been ordered for Friday morning.
  • Friday night we’ve planned to stay (if we can get in) just after Weston Favell Flood Gates.
  • Saturday night our plan is to moor just before the Nene/Grand Union junction.
  • If all goes to plan, we’ll be climbing the 17 Rotherthorpe Locks on Sunday.
  • On Monday, we’ll be having a rest, and plan our next adventure.

Today we’ve travelled over 7 miles, and through 4 locks.

Moored At The Kings Head

Sunday saw us travelling from Fotheringhay to just above Ashton Lock where we found a ‘Friends of the River Nene’ mooring. It must be a new mooring as it wasn’t noted in the two Nene maps we have.

We were pleased to find the mooring, as the day was hot, and the river was quite busy with ‘Sunday Boaters’. At two  of the locks we found the lock landing occupied by boaters that appeared to be ‘taking a break’! This made it rather awkward as Cyan had to tread water outside the lock while I reset the guillotine gates, then of course when I wanted to get back on Cyan, it was a case of ‘legs hanging over the lock wall’ while I slid down. The waterways have been designed for everyone to share, as safely as possible. It’s fabulous to see so many people enjoying themselves, but we all do need to share.

Little did we know though (until the evening), that alongside our mooring there’s a stagnant, but small pond under the trees in the hedge, a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Despite the heat, Cyan’s windows had to be closed.

We set off yesterday morning with an aim to arrive at Thrapston. We remember passing through Thrapston, and thought this would be a fabulous place to stop on our return.

Sorry about the dark pictures, the camera was set wrong 🙁

Our first lock of the day was Lower Barnwell, we were helped through by Environment Agency workmen who were waiting to take their huge work boat down the lock. They are busy repairing lock landings.

At Upper Barnwell lock we found yet another boat on the lock landing where the boaters were having a cup of tea (perhaps this is normal on the River Nene?) This time the boater came over and apologised, and insisted they’d lower the guillotine gate to save Cyan ‘hovering’ while John waited for me to set the lock.

Our next lock was Lilford, as we approached, we saw there was a boat in the lock going up. John dropped me off on the landing, and I climbed the stairs to offer help. The lady boater asked if we’d  overtaken a boat, as they’d been waiting half an hour for another boat to arrive as they were sharing locks with them. With that I mentioned there was a boat moored on the lock landing at the last lock landing, making it awkward for other boaters…. blah blah I moaned…! I quickly shut up when I realised this lady’s boat was one of those that was moored on a landing on Sunday! Whoops, ‘foot firmly put in mouth’! (Still if the cap fits 😉 )

By way of helping to relieve my embarrassment, I told her to jump on her boat, and that I’d set the guillotine gates. Whilst raising the guillotine gates after Cyan had gone through, I noticed the boat we’d left at the lock behind us was approaching.

The ‘defunct’ Archimedes Screw at Wadenhoe Lock. Think it was defunct due to the amount of silt it had ‘misplaced’.

At Wadenhoe Lock, the boat in front was waiting for us to join them. Despite the embarrassment about the lock landing, they were pleasant, and obliging, they thought we’d be joining them for the next few locks. But we’d had enough, the weather had been very hot, and the Kings Head at the top of lock looked very inviting!

With help from another boater, who was moored by the pub, we moored at the bottom of the ‘garden’, just as half a dozen canoeists decided to do the same!

It’s £10 per night to stay here, but if you have a meal, mooring is for free. So we had a lovely meal! Potted crab, steak and ale pie, and ice cream for afters. Fabulous!

We’re not sure where we’ll be staying tonight, the last of the current heatwave. The day so far is an unwritten page!

Yesterday we travelled over 5 miles, and through 4 locks.

Mooring Between Two Weddings

We left our mooring by the Nene Valley Railway Museum after a hearty breakfast as we’re not sure how far we’d be travelling today, this stretch of the Nene appears to be rather short of moorings. The decision was taken to ‘go with the flow’ and see what the day brings.

It was a lovely day weather wise, the sun was shining, and it felt pleasant thanks to a coolish breeze.

The cormorant below had been up early for his breakfast, we  spotted him high on a branch drying off his feathers.

Our journey today saw us travelling through four locks, and we were lucky enough to meet a boat at three of the locks that wanted to descend down the locks, meaning I only had to empty (reset) one lock.

At Yarwell lock we stopped to fill our almost empty water tank, the water flow was so strong, the water tank was filled within minutes. Though it was a little disconcerting as the ‘noise’ of the water going into the tank was a sound we hadn’t heard before due to the pressure of water going into the tank.

At one of the locks while waiting (with my thumb on the button) for the guillotine gate to lower, I felt something crawling up my 3/4 length baggy trousers. I tried to shake it off, only to get painfully stung! I’m sure I put on a pretty dance show in front of several fishermen and canoeists tying to get rid of the thing (wasp?), but at least I didn’t in my panic, shed my trousers!

Talking of being trouserless, or naked to be exact, steering one of the three boats we passed coming the other way from us, was a man who was bare naked except for some tattoos! He was trying to catch as many sunrays as possible – this was a situation where I wish I could un-see the spectacle.

At Fotheringhay we decided we’d moor, and pay the farmer a fiver. Just like the last time we’d moored here, we’d hardly knocked in the mooring pins, when the farmer appeared with his tin. The farmer did warn us though that it might be noisy. The next field on both sides where we moored had wedding marquees in the fields.

We had a leisurely bbq for dinner, and the evening air was very pleasant. As we sipped our Rioja, sounds of a solo trumpeter belting out from one of the maquees entertained us for over half an hour…. it was ‘magic our morris!’

Today we’ve travelled almost 10 miles, and through 4 locks.

The Nene Valley Railway Museum

It’s was going to be hot today; so to beat some of the heat we left our mooring at Ferry Meadow just before 9:00 am.

The weather, though hot, was calm, as was the water.

We were quite lucky at Alwalton Lock, our first lock of the day. Just as John took Cyan out, another boat sailed into the lock. The other boaters were happy, as we were, it saved us having to empty the lock, and saved them having to fill it. On the Nene boaters are obliged to leave locks empty with the bottom gates open, or the guillotine in the ‘up’ position.

At our next lock, Waternewton Lock, a boat behind us caught us up just as Cyan was again sailing out of the lock. One of the crew from the boat behind kindly said she’ll take over from me setting/emptying the lock. Well that must be Karma, as I did the same for this lady at Ashline Lock on the Middle Levels when we were behind their boat, guess it was pay-back time.

The church by the lock is beautiful, and it looks like there’s a wedding being prepared for tomorrow. How lovely for the church to host a marque in its grounds.

This time we managed to moor at Wansford Station Railway Bridge mooring. John was hoping get on this mooring as it was occupied last time we passed, and he did so want to look around at the railway museum.

When we were working through Alwalton Lock, a man came to watch us go through. After chatting to him, it turns out he’s the lock keeper for the Dog and Doublet Lock, and his remit stretches to keeping watch on Alwalton and Waternewton Locks. John mentioned we were hoping to stop at the Nene Valley Railway Museum, and perhaps see a steam engine ‘fired’ for action. The lock keeper told John that due to dry weather, the museum has had to stop firing up engines, as sparks from the train could start landscape fires. We were left wondering; what did they do in the ‘old days’?

John was delighted to find the steam engine ’92 Squadron’ (see their website) was fired up and running.

Today at the museum was ‘Driver Experience Day’, meaning two (paying) passengers get to ride on the ‘plate’, and even have a go driving the engine for about an hour; food, drink, and professional photographs all included. Each time the engine is fired up, it apparently costs c. £1,400! The cost for one passenger is around £300 for a trip, and we can understand why.

In the evening, the engine was hitched to several carriages, including a diner, where passengers were treated to a ride with an evening dinner included.

Today we’ve travelled almost 4 miles, and through 2 locks.

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!