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Index

Tour 2004

Index

21 - Denver to Cambridge, Cambridge to Denver. Denver to Salter's Lode. Salter's Lode to March. Ely Ouse, River Cam and back, Tidal River Ouse, Middle Level - Well Creek and Old Course of the River Nene.

Wednesday 9th June 2004

As usual John Chapman was first up, but woke Neil to have a look at the state of our "mooring". The pontoon had bottomed out at a crazy angle, even this far in to the sluice the silt bank extended. Earnest's stern had also bottomed, counter some 3 inches out of the water, but yet we where at a reasonable angle. Mike said we would not get into the lock until around 12:00, so Neil nosed around and found a water tap. The long hose was then used to fill up water tank and give Earnest a good scrub down to remove the salt spray, which had already made marks on the unkempt brass handrails. Flood came quickly around 11:20 and within 15 minutes we were in the pre-prepared lock. Soon we were out onto the Ely Ouse and moored up on the EA Visitor Moorings beyond the Jenyns Arms pub (11:45) Pat and "Aunty Joan" soon arrived to pick up John Chapman, so they could continue their cruise down the Nene / Middle Level to NB Frogmoore II's home port of Bill Fen at Ramsey. After a continual clean up and a sit down!!! fry up, Neil and Martin headed off up to Ely for the night at 14:40. At 17:45 we moored up in Ely, just before the water point and self pump out machine (broken) and right beside the bloody noisy railway bridge, freight traffic going on throughout the night. After a wander about in Ely we ended up at the "Spice City" Indian Restaurant, same as last visit! Spotted Ownerships NB Silkwood, now temporally based at Priory Marina in Bedford.

Thursday 10th June 2004

Peter Wright was to meet us in Cambridge that after noon, so we ambled off at 08:45. On the way up we "checked out" Swaffam Bulbeck Lode (Knackered pointy bottom gates and electric / manual guillotine at the top. Rather weed infested.) EA Bods creeping around at the Bottisham Lode pumping station (open pointy flood gates, looked reasonably clear of weed) so we decided to leave that until the way out of Cambridge. At Bates Bite Lock there were a plethora of EA bods clearing up after de-working Hydraulics of the Cam Conservators. The totally automatic operation has been replaced by controls at each end. This had been a stoppage for a good few days and they had just finished! Cambridge "Bumps" were going on above, at least 20 rowing Eights involved in mad races. We waited in Lock for the next "batch" to scream up river at 25 MPH. Soon NB Silkwood arrived and we stayed in lock as they dropped water and let themselves up. We introduced ourselves to crew and phoned up Bob Wood, for a three way conversation! After 30 mins we were on out way, through a mass of Rowing Eights - just as well we knew where the "wrong side of the river" section was. We moored up below Jesus Lock at 14:05, Peter beckoning us into his chosen mooring. The liveaboards on this section had tripled since our last visit. NB Silkwood followed in mooring behind us. We went to "The Castle" Adnams pub this evening, early start the next day as we are booked out of Denver for Salter's Lode at 13:00. We planned to get to Northampton by Saturday evening, so Peter could "experience" all the Nene guillotines and be near Railway station. The Castle proved a good venue, on-form Adnams and good (but slow) bar food, bloody hot so we ate outside on rear terrace.

Friday 11th June 2004

05:15 start from Cambridge, only a couple of single rowers about. Out of Bottisham Lock at 06:15. Lost a fair amount of time on Bottisham and Swaffam Bulbeck Lodes........ Past through Ely at 10:10, got wave from bod on NB Meandrine, that we met on the Lancaster last year. 
We arrived at Denver at 12:55, for start of locking across the tidal section to Salter's Lode at 13:00. One Fox's hire narrowboat was moored up on the lock waiting area at Denver, so we asked permission of the friendly crew to moor along side. The said that there was total confusion out in the tideway, so we went to investigate. 
A private narrowboat (Newly weds honeymoon!!!) was high and dry, fortunately level, straddling the silt island and the nearly completed channel that EA had been dredging with the drag line excavator that was just getting in position as we went up the Ely Ouse. A working NB (Aquarius) just happened to be about and was to come over from Salter's Lode on the level and try to drag the un-named green narrowboat off the bank at high water. This would be the last chance for a week, seeing as we were now going off Springs. One narrowboat came over from Salter's, then NB Aquarius came and managed to drag the green narrowboat off the bank and into Denver. By that time another 60ft narrowboat, (The Smith's on NB Emma) had arrived.  Of course Ed Mortimer knows the people who own Aquarius and sold them the gutsy Lister HA3 engine it now has!
The Fox boat went first, then us two 60ft narrowboats would go together, but one would have to wait just below Salter's Lode Lock, seeing as 60ft is the limit for using Salter's as a lock and Paul only likes to lock one down onto the Middle Level, due to bottom gate shuffling requirements. Keeping in order, we went before NB Emma, Neil telling the Smith's to follow our course and to use a fair bit of welly to keep off the silt bank, seeing as by now we were well into the ebb. 
Neil had to use a fair bit of power and crab Earnest upstream towards the New Bedford, before swinging round to miss the silt..............NB Emma did not......... and was swept sideways onto the silt bar. Neil managed to go back with Earnest, but did not fancy the chances of also getting stuck, so we aborted and headed back down to Salter's. The lady from NB Aquarius was about and the best bet was for Mike the Denver locky to lock down Aquarius backwards to pull NB Emma off. 
After our perfect approach and enter into Salter's Lode, we were greeted by a bemused Paul, who said that this was getting a normal occurrence. After a chat about old times we went off (16:00), after phoning Dave at Denver to find out that NB Emma was indeed pulled off by NB Aquarius and was headed down to Salter's. Paul apologised about Well Creek being down about 9 inches due to letting a high air draught boat across (lowest bridges on through Middle Level Route is on Well Creek.) 
We found Well Creek not too much of a problem. We decided to try for March that night, so did the "right thing" and phoned up Mrs Norton at Marmont Priory Lock. The Norton's were out in force at "their" lock and we were soon through, but not after a good chat, Mrs Norton was of course aware that we had come across the Wash and had come up the Great Ouse outfall in the dark! 
Out of Marmont Priory Lock at 19:15. After getting onto the deep water below the lock we decided to moor up short of March (19:50), on the high bank beside Euximoor Fen, another couple of narrowboats were spaced out along here. Tinned pies for evening meal, plus rather an excessive amount of marrowfat tinned peas!!! The ships bottled beer took a hammering. Moody evening with a fair bit of rain, incredibly peaceful night. Ely cathedral "Ship Of The Fens" could be seen across the flat countryside.


When we woke up at Denver we found this mess! Tidal River Great Ouse.


When we woke up at Denver we found this mess! Tidal River Great Ouse.


Note Earnests counter is 4 inches out of the water...............just as well those front deck drains are blocked! Tidal River Great Ouse.


When we woke up at Denver we found this mess! Tidal River Great Ouse.


When we woke up at Denver we found this mess! Tidal River Great Ouse.


Denver above the sluice. River Great Ouse - Ely Ouse.


The new Hilgay Bridge. River Great Ouse - Ely Ouse.


Ely. River Great Ouse - Ely Ouse.


Swaffam Bulbeck Lode, off River Cam.


Swaffam Bulbeck Lode, off River Cam.


Swaffam Bulbeck Lode, off River Cam.

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Swaffam Bulbeck Lode, off River Cam.


The Cambridge "Bumps"............this is not the race, just returning rowing eights. River Cam.


Bottisham  Lode, off River Cam.


Bottisham  Lode, off River Cam.


Bottisham  Lode, off River Cam.


Ely Cathedral.. Ely Ouse.


The beached narrowboat at Denver. Tidal River Great Ouse.


The beached narrowboat at Denver. Tidal River Great Ouse.


Waiting to go out and across to Salter's Lode at Denver.


NB Aquarius rescues the stranded narrowboat.. Denver. Tidal River Great Ouse.


Skirting round the sand bank on the way downstream to Salter's Lode. Denver Sluice, Tidal River Great Ouse.


NB Emma does not make it! Denver Sluice, Tidal River Great Ouse.


Rather perfect approach to Salter's Lode against a strong ebb. Tidal River Great Ouse / Well Creek.


Rather perfect approach to Salter's Lode against a strong ebb. Tidal River Great Ouse / Well Creek.


Rather perfect approach to Salter's Lode against a strong ebb. Tidal River Great Ouse / Well Creek.


Rather perfect approach to Salter's Lode against a strong ebb. In Salter's Lode Sluice. Tidal River Great Ouse / Well Creek.


Salter's Lode Sluice. Tidal River Great Ouse / Well Creek.


The repaired / raised bridge by Mullicourt Aqueduct. Well Creek - Middle Level.


New housing on the old Upwell Tramway yard. Outwell. Well Creek - Middle Level.


As ever Mrs Norton comes out to do "her" lock. Marmont Priory Lock Old Course of the River Nene, Upwell, Middle Level.


New marina at Floods Ferry. Middle Level.

The Tour Continues...


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