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The 1996 Fens / Avon Cruise

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3. Godmanchester to Bedford, including Upper River Great Ouse to Kempston, via River Great Ouse.

Tuesday 9th July we set off at 8.40. St Neots Bridge was passed at 11.45 and Bedford Lock at 17.00. There was a spot of trouble at Great Barford Lock, the wooden landing jetty displaying at least two “No fishing” signs. We shouted out to the 5 or so fishermen fishing from here that we were coming and to mind their keep nets. One extra ignorant bloke decided to leave his in! This was of course the one Neil put round the prop. With 4 blokes on board you don’t worry about petty threats. The fisherman went towards us in a menacing way; Colin went for one of our large mooring pins! Neil had the mangled remains of the keep net off in minutes and threw it at the fisherman. Normally we avoid conflict in situations like this, by bow dropping lock wheelers off. But at this situation the flow is quite severe and the landing stage was at a bow scraping height. 


We had decided to do the “see how near you can get to Kempston” trip that evening, so on we carried. The second railway bridge was the main air draught problem; we cleared it by about 6 inches. We had a bit of problem with weed, but there was plenty of depth. The main problem was determining the deep channel by the first set of islands; this was not obvious as some trees were in the way. We eventually turned at 17.50 against some pilings just out of sight of Kempston Mill. Here a 50ft narrowboat could just turn, we achieved this by coming alongside the pilings and holding the stern, let the current take the bow round. We could have carried on a bit more but it was getting shallower and the flow was increasing, making reversing difficult. We assumed that there was no other point to turn a 50ft narrowboat. 


At 18.33 we back at Bedford Lock, we then carried along the wide weir race as far as practicable. After winding we were back on the visitor moorings just above the lock (18.40). That evening we managed to find a supermarket open in the centre of town, then we went out to the “Rivabella” pizza / pasta parlor near the bridge.


The gaily painted railway bridges at Huntingdon. River Great Ouse.

Approaching Brampton Lock, the new lock cut to the left, by-passes the shallow millstream. River Great Ouse.

"The Old Mill" Beefeater, up the millstream at Brampton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Waiting for Brampton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Brampton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Brampton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Brampton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Brampton Lock. River Great Ouse.

We nearly take the wrong turn to the right (To Buckden Marina.) River Great Ouse.

Approaching Offord Lock. River Great Ouse.

Sharing the narrow Offord Lock with another 50ft narrowboat. River Great Ouse.

Offord Lock is a tight squeeze with two 50ft narrowboats. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Offord Lock. River Great Ouse.

The weir above Offord Lock. River Great Ouse.

Beside the E.C.M.L railway at Paxton. River Great Ouse.

Getting near St Neots. River Great Ouse.

Approaching St Neots Lock and Mill. River Great Ouse.

Approaching St Neots Lock and Mill. River Great Ouse.

Approaching St Neots Mill. River Great Ouse.

Leaving St Neots Lock. River Great Ouse.

The approach to St Neots. Visitor moorings to the left of the boat. River Great Ouse.

Approach to St Neots. The pontoon visitor moorings to the left. River Great Ouse.

"The Bridge House" Beefeater and Bridge at St Neots. River Great Ouse.

Castle Mills at Eaton Socon Lock. River Great Ouse.

Eaton Socon Lock. River Great Ouse.

Waiting for Eaton Socon Lock. Castle Mills in the background. River Great Ouse.

Eaton Socon Lock. Electric guillotine gate controls. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Eaton Socon Lock. River Great Ouse.

Approach to the Tempsford A1 Bridges. River Great Ouse.

Leaving the Tempsford A1 Bridges. River Great Ouse.

The entrance to the moribund River Ivel Navigation, just before Roxton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Approaching Roxton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Roxton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Roxton Lock. River Great Ouse.

Waiting for Great Barford Lock. River Great Ouse.

Waiting for Great Barford Lock. Fisherman trouble! River Great Ouse.

Waiting for Great Barford Lock. The troublesome fishermen, now minus one keepnet! River Great Ouse.

Display of old lock components at Great Barford Lock. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Great Barford Lock. River Great Ouse.

Approaching Barford Bridge. River Great Ouse.

The navigation arch of Barford Bridge. River Great Ouse.

"The Anchor" pub at Great Barford Bridge. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Willington Lock. River Great Ouse.

The river above Willington Lock. River Great Ouse.

The new A421 Bridge. River Great Ouse.

The new A421 Bridge, before Castle Mill Lock. River Great Ouse.

Approach to Castle Mill Lock. River Great Ouse.

Waiting for Castle Mill Lock. River Great Ouse.

The Fleming Brothers operate the ground paddle at Castle Mill Lock. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Castle Mill Lock. River Great Ouse.

Telephoto shot of Cardington Airship Hangers. River Great Ouse.

Cardington Lock. River Great Ouse.

Leaving Cardington Lock. River Great Ouse.

The pyramid (Sportshall?) building on the approach to Bedford. River Great Ouse.

Looking into Priory Marina, Bedford. River Great Ouse.

The disused railway bridge before Bedford. River Great Ouse.

The temporary A418 Bailey Bridge just before Bedford. River Great Ouse.

The A418 Bridge is under going repairs. River Great Ouse.

Beside the footbridge over the main weir channel in Bedford. River Great Ouse.

Entering Bedford Lock. River Great Ouse.

In Bedford Lock. River Great Ouse.

Our moorings above the lock in Bedford. River Great Ouse.

Bedford Bridge and the riverside at night. River Great Ouse.

Bedford Arch footbridge floodlit at night. River Great Ouse.

Bedford Lock. River Great Ouse.

On our way upstream, approaching Bedford Bridge. River Great Ouse.

Above Bedford Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

On the way back approaching Bedford Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

On our way upstream, approaching Prebend Street Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Approaching the first of the two Bedford railway bridges. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Limited headroom under the first Bedford Railway Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Telephoto shot looking back at the first Bedford Railway Bridge and Prebend Street Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

The second low Railway Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Leaving the second Railway Bridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Leaving the new footbridge. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Navigating between the islands, coming up, out from Bedford. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Navigating between the islands, coming up, out from Bedford. Upper River Great Ouse. 

The limit of navigation, Kempston Mill is just up the left hand channel. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Going astern to wind. We shall hold the stern on the pilings and let the current take us round. Upper River Great Ouse. 

Our handy 50ft winding point! Upper River Great Ouse. 

The tour continues...


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