A relaxing ten day cruise, from Ely to Bedford, and then back via Earith, the Hundred Foot and Denver. Excellent weather. I met several very friendly Environment Agency staff, and chatted to many boaters, in particular on DREAM CATCHER and JUSTICE.
Lunchtime and overnight stops:
- Little Thetford, Ely Ouse (EA); Aldreth, Old West River (GOBA)
- The Waits, St Ives (Huntingdon District Council); Houghton, the island below the lock (EA)
- Little Paxton Nature Reserve (GOBA)
- St Neots (Town Council); Great Barford, the old lock island just upstream (EA)
- Bedford Sovereign Wharf (EA); Bedford, near the head of navigation (wild)
- Cardington (GOBA); Eaton Socon (EA)
- Offord (GOBA); Brampton (GOBA)
- Hemingford (HDC); Holywell (HDC)
- Denver (EA); Ship Inn, Brandon Creek (EA)
I: ELY TO BEDFORD
Old West River – very windy conditions. No photographs of the rescue of a narrowboat at Stretham, that had come loose from its moorings and got wedged across the waterway.
The evocative causeway to the small and quiet village of Aldreth – one of the ancient causeways linking Ely to the outside world. One could imagine that this track had not changed since the time of Hereward and William the Conqueror.
A tree in the middle of a field, followed by the same view on my previous trip in April, when I was not 100% sure whether going to the left of the tree was feasible.
I saw four of these boats working hard to harvest the reeds – a company called rushmatters.co.uk. Their website explains how they harvest on the Ouse, Nene and Ivel. Molly the dog was on board, but does not feature in this photograph!
I moored at The Waits in St Ives, to explore the town. According to the town’s website, this area is so named because barges had to wait there. The river used to be tidal to this point (and still is when the water submerges the staunch at Brownshill).
The bridge chapel at St Ives – unfortunately not open for me to inspect in person.
A statue of Cromwell – is there any town in the area that does not claim some connection with him?!
An 0530 start in the morning. While the lock was emptying I went to have a look at the Mill, run by the National Trust
Another island mooring – next to the old lock just above Great Barford. This one did have a footbridge, as part of the Ouse Valley Way that now runs 150 miles from Brackley to Kings Lynn.
Birthday supper at the Anchor pub – half a mile walk across the fields from the mooring.
The monster lock at Castle Mill, on the outskirts of Bedford. Water enters the chamber from the side, halfway down the lock. The concrete sides show how high the water level might go in flood conditions, though the EA data shows a range of less than a metre.
It was quite tricky to find a mooring near to the turning place….
II: BEDFORD TO EARITH
Great Barford bridge – easier going downstream! Under the A1 at Tempsford – the inscription was dated 1820 (see the link for more detail)
Past the moorings at Little Paxton Pits – rather fine nature reserve with lots of dragonflies. We stopped here on the way upstream – very peaceful.
Offord Cluny church. The current abruptly stopped at this point, as nearly all the flow was being abstracted for Grafham Water reservoir.
A glorious mooring at Holywell – fine pub, interesting church, with the Holy Well in the churchyard.
III: EARITH TO DENVER VIA NEW BEDFORD RIVER
Main timings for this trip:
HW Kings Lynn 1250 BST (a weak neap tide)
HW Denver 1350, or thereabouts.
Flood at Denver 1220, or thereabouts.
Depart Earith 0845, there was a bit of an ebb current here but it seemed to peter out quite soon?
Manea railway bridge 1121
Hit a sizeable silt bar (next to Hundred Foot Pumping Station) 1129, but momentum took me over it
First tree partially blocking the river 1136 – hit the silt on the opposite bank.
Second tree 1152, ebb running at about 1 mph – hit the silt again
Meet the “flood” (under the 400KV pylons near Welmore) 1245, about 1.5 mph initially.
Denver 1345, 21.3 miles later.
GPS track here – warning it is a bit boring, but you can see when the tide turned.So you may want to speed up the replay speed a bit …
A drizzly morning, turning into the
New Bedford River just before Hermitage Lock.
and getting closer ..
Approaching the bird reserve at Welney – nearly low water, so running out of water. But we never stopped moving.
Welmore sluices, that let the accumulated water out of the washes. Rather oddly, the pumps were running (left of photo) – not sure why, unless it was to pump out the water being let in at Earith (see above). I think I am now in Norfolk.
PLATINUM FOX (from the excellent Fox Narrowboats at March) leaving the lock at Denver
IV: DENVER TO ELY
The entrance to Ely, and the end of our journey. I think this now means I have done every inch of the Great Ouse system, in both directions. I still need to do Kings Lynn to Denver, though …