Saturday, 31 May 2014

St. Ives, part three.

St. Ives still grips us. The E.A. has put out a strong stream warning and closed the locks so here we sit. Luckily next to a water point.
So today instead of heading up river to Hemingford Grey we donned our walking boots and walked there, crossing Hemingford Meadow.

A buttercup bestrewn water meadow with views back to St. Ives

with the spires of the two churches, parish on the left, free church on the right, dominating the horizon.
Hemingford Grey has got to be the most chocolate box perfect village anywhere.

The river runs right past the church and there are some splendid old messuages.

After a pint in The Cock we set off back to St. Ives and by the time we got there we were feeling the effects of the walk, mostly thirst, so we adjourned to The Oliver Cromwell.

Down a little back street, that's it at the end on the left. Six real ales and four proper ciders, beside the usual clutter of continental euro-slop. Friendly, cheerful staff as well.
Imray describes the town wharf as moorings, well you could moor there but you would need a ladder to get up the wall. It also marks a water point.

Surely not.
So here we sit, still waiting for the water to drop.

Watch this space.........

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Being at St. Ives.

Still at St. Ives with the water hurtling past. At least it has stopped raining for a while. Hopefully the river will now start to slow as the excess water moves down stream.
Rather disappointed with St. Ives, to be honest it seems a rather nondescript place.

The most exciting thing about the town centre would seem to be this statue to England's only military dictator. It has been suggested by a previous vicar from a local church that the book under his arm is not a bible but more likely contains the addresses of his mistresses.

It stands on Market Hill, where they still hold the market every Monday.
I'm sure that a more thorough investigation would reveal a cornucopia of good things about the town but we're fed up with being rained on.

Watch this space...........

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

As I was going to St. Ives.....

After debate yesterday we decided that, as the weather forecast seemed to indicate it would be the last reasonable day for a while, we would push on and find somewhere to sit out the deluge. Unfortunately we hadn't taken the fact that it had been raining further upstream into account. When we arrived at Hermitage Lock the lockie suggested lowering the contents of our roof boxes as the water was a bit on the high side upstream and the lock has a low bridge crossing it.

We safely negotiated the lock and were soon back on the wide waters of the Great Ouse, passing the bridge across the start of the Hundred Foot Drain a.k.a. the New Bedford River.

This takes the main flow of the river down a direct but tidal route to Denver. It can be used as a short cut by boaters but is generally advised against. Although a few years ago I seem to recall that, because of a blockage on the lower river, the visitors to an I.W.A. rally at Bedford used it quite safely.

Then there is the sluice across the Old Bedford river, another drain designed to take excessive water off down to Denver. By now we were starting to get a clue about what the lockie had meant. Allowing for it being a tidal stretch from Hermitage Lock to Brownshill Sluice and it being, presumably, high tide it did seem as though, perhaps, the owners of this picnic table did not usually wear wellies when barbecuing.

Brownshill staunch has electrically operated guillotine gates but the water was simply flowing over the top of both of them. Because of the electrical interlock on the operating system we had to open the lower gate, insert the boat, shut said gate and then open the top gate, all the while holding against the current that was zooming through.
Above here the river is no longer tidal but it did seem as though there was rather a lot of water about.

None of the GOBA moorings we passed looked very inviting and

the flood banks were starting to live up to their name so we pushed on in the hope of finding somewhere out of the main stream.
After working through St. Ives lock in company with a mighty white cruiser crewed by a crew of three who had never done a lock before we headed for the medieval bridge with its famous chapel.

The bridge was completed by the monks of Ramsey Abbey in 1425 and the chapel added a year later. Over the years the chapel has served as a toll house, a private residence, a pub and a doctors surgery besides its original purpose. It is dedicated to St. Leger, is he the patron saint of horse racing?
We eventually found sanctuary on the E.A. moorings at The Waits, a backwater at the bottom of town. If the weather doesn't improve I feel we may be here for a day or two.
Just for information we did not meet a man with seven wives.

Watch this space........

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Where have all the cowboys gone?

After the compulsory Sunday morning Full English we dropped down to the services block for another free pump out, just love the E.A., and a top up of water and then set off upstream. We were on the move by 0830 and fighting a blustery wind.

The river is still straight, wide and open until you get to Pope's Corner,

where the River Cam goes off left to Cambridge and the Ouse goes right and becomes the Old West River. Old West? But there's not a cowboy in sight.
The river now becomes much narrower and winding, altogether more attractive. The speed limit is lowered to four m.p.h. and they have even put out a measured distance so you can judge your rate of progress.

Reminiscent of the Montgomery.

Jill managed to grab this photo' of a Little Egret, we really weren't expecting to see one although the abundance of water does make it a likely spot.

At Stretham Old Engine the river is no wider than many canals. It was built in 1831 and its scoop wheel was used to clear water from the fens up into the river. The steam engine was placed on standby in 1924 when a diesel engine was installed. It was last used in the floods during the 1940's. It is open to the public on the third Sunday of the month.

Just past the Lazy Otter the banks really close in for a short distance but then open out again and are bordered by a fine display of water lilies.

We are now on the GOBA moorings near Aldreth and I will take back my comment about cowboys seeing the speed some boats are passing us.

Also taking into consideration who has just turned up next to us.

Watch this space...........

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Ship of the Fens.

Yesterday morning, first bleary peer out of the side hatch,

two Great Crested Grebe chicks, the parent was hiding in the reeds keeping a watchful eye on them. We have been pleasantly surprised by the number of Grebes we have seen on the river.

Lots of young birds about, it's that time of year.
As we headed upstream the Ship of the Fens began to appear above the river banks

and it was soon dominating the skyline.

Surely one of the most impressive sites for a cathedral, towering over the fens and visible for miles.
We managed to wriggle in to the last mooring space by the water point and had a quick wander around the town, planning a full exploration for today. So today we sat and watched the rain run down the portholes. Managed to nip out for the shopping between the prolonged showers. I found another cane fishing rod in the local antique emporium, needs a total refurbishment but I got it for a tenner. So that's next winters project sorted.

Watch this space............

Thursday, 22 May 2014

First day on the Great Ouse.

The Jenyns Arms fed us well last night, the rib eye steaks were first class. This morning we set off still feeling surfeited from last night.

I wouldn't say that the river here was boring, a little repetitive perhaps as you are hemmed in by the high banks, but it did give us a chance to let Armadillo have her head. She's not exactly a speed boat but she responded nobly, not travelled at such speed since last year on the Thames.

Well I had to take a photo' of something for the blog and this pumping station was the only thing that presented itself.
We had been running for a couple of hours with no particular stopping place in mind when we spotted some E.A. moorings and decided that a rest was called for.

So here we are, somewhere on the Great Ouse, I climbed the bank and was surprised to find the A10 running just behind it, not a sound seems to reach the river.

So far today we have seen three boats on the move and we were one of them, the river is really quiet. Tomorrow we intend heading for Ely but, as I've said before, "The best laid plans o' mice and men."

Watch this space..........

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Jill's birthday treat.

Jill's birthday, difficult to believe the first birthday I shared with her was her thirteenth.
Today I gave her a real birthday treat, knowing her love of tidal water.
We set off down Well Creek through Outwell,

then over Mullicourt Aqueduct crossing the Sixteen Foot Drain

and passing the other end of Popham's Eau.

A bit of a contrast with the stretch we navigated on our way to Three Holes, this end is unnavigable.

A line of pylons stretched away to the horizon and then we arrived at

Salters Lode Lock and the tidal Great Ouse. We had an hour or so to wait for the tide to be right for crossing to Denver Sluice so we set off to familiarise ourselves with the environs.

There's a bit of a sand bank just outside the lock, made a mental note to give it a wide berth.

That's Denver Sluice centre rear, it's not that far, ignore the mudbanks, after all the tide was on the flood. Eventually the lockie decided the water level was OK and we were called forward.

Here we are, safely tucked in the lock and then, after the levels equalised,

the guillotine gate rose and we headed out onto the wide waters,

carefully avoiding the now submerged sand bank. It was then a swift right turn, give her some welly and head up stream to Denver and its

integral lock.
We were soon through and passing

the Jenyns Arms. As it is Jill's birthday we pulled over for a swift one but on consideration decided to stay and celebrate here.

Watch this space..........