Sunday, 27 July 2014

To Great Barford, Brampton, The Pike & Eel,Ely & The Ship Inn – 21st to 26th July 2014

Monday 21st July
To Great Barford

6.25 miles, 3 locks

A late start for us as we did not leave until after lunch.  Cleddau was waiting for an engineer to call and I took Monty for a long well deserved walk around the country park.  Then a fill up with water and diesel, settle the bill and we were off.  Just three locks today – all single boat ones, but instead of waiting until we were both through as we did on the way to Bedford, Cleddau kept going ahead which saved us quite a lot of time.  Monty is now brave enough to tackle the bridges without an escort.


We moored at Great Barford on the other side on the GOBA moorings.  Monty had the biggest ‘back garden’ he is ever likely to get!

The gazebo had to be dried out after all the rain yesterday, so the easiest way was to erect it and it seemed a shame to waste all the effort, so dinner was taken al fresco.  It was worth the effort.

It was not the flattest of moorings, so everything had to be passed on and off the boats via a human chain.  Even Monty had to sit and wait his turn!

Tuesday 22nd July 
To the GOBA locks near Brampton
14.75 miles, 5 locks

We were always aware that there would be many others travelling back from the festival, but thanks to our late start yesterday we avoided any hold ups.  Not so today!  Three narrow boats were moored up across the river at Great Barford and just pipped us to the lock, so it took well over an hour to get us both through. 


There was also a group of about 10 cruisers from March somewhere ahead of us – they are travelling together and seem to wait to get everyone through before going on to the next lock, so it takes a very long time!

We made it through Eaton Socon with ease – this one is big enough for both of us and a few cruisers! 

The plan was to stop at St Neots for water and shopping, however the moorings were chock a block.  We had caught up with the March boats, so on we went.  A very wise decision.  When we got to St Neots lock it was already busy.

We both moored up to wait our turn suddenly the world came round the corner!

It is a very long lock and we got both of us and a cruiser that was ahead of us in with ease.  Someone from the boats behind did come and suggest that we could have got our two boats side by side and another four cruisers or so.  He claimed he had done so in the past.  ‘Just lift your fenders’ was his advice ‘or are you worried about your paintwork?’  Not unduly to the latter – we do too many narrow locks to be too precious about scratches, but there are chains on the lock walls and we could see the possibility of the boats being jammed and getting into real bother.  I am glad to say that the cruiser in front of us gave full support and the gentleman giving the advice had to lump it.

Away we went, one more small lock at Offord and we found space at the GOBA moorings just before Brampton.  Another idyllic spot for Monty with good walks along the Great Ouse Way.

Our entertainment for the day

Four of these EA craft busy cutting reeds

A young man swimming along on a body board

A model boat

We were also able to appreciate how pretty some parts of today’s stretch were


And ooh and aah at this nest full of young cygnets – too many to count


Wednesday 23rd July
To The Pike & Eel Pub
13.75 miles 5 locks

We made good time today with very few hold ups.  Houghton lock was full when we got there, but they could have stayed for as long as they wanted – amongst their number was ‘Ursula’ – a rather wonderful wooden steam boat.  Oh to be able to tarry a while and stroke that wood and listen to the ‘beep beep’ as she whistled away on leaving the lock.  She really was a joy to behold.  Boatwif enquired where she was moored.  The answer ‘in a shed at home’!


It was to be a day of different boats – we found this one moored at St Ives

where we were lucky enough to find a good mooring to allow for a brief shopping trip.

 This was our destination – a table was booked for 19:30.


A peaceful location yet again

and with a fabulous view


Sitting in the restaurant enjoying a first class meal I spotted two people purposely striding across the grass.  I very soon realised they were the friends from Godmanchester who had looked after us so well on our way to Bedford.  Unbeknown to the rest of us Boatwif had alerted them to our destination.  Two chairs were drawn up, drinks ordered and great conversation was enjoyed whilst they watched us eat!  The food is good, so if you pass this way it is worth a visit.  Boatwif and I enjoyed a spiced apple tart with ginger ice cream for dessert.

Very replete we headed back to the boats for coffee only to find that in our absence a cob, his pen and family of five cygnets had taken up residence right outside the end of the boats that was our only entrance and exit.  Monty managed to get off our boat to the great consternation of the cob, but he was not going back that way.  We had to lift him and ‘post’ him through Cleddau’s side hatch!

Coffee was drunk on board Cleddau and by the time we were ready to go back to Tentatrice we found that, thankfully, Mum and Dad had decided to take the family elsewhere for the night.

Thursday 24th July
To Ely
18.5 miles, 2 locks

What a long old slog today and for the most part quite tedious.

First through Brownshill Staunch and our first bit of excitement for the day – two of the Earith seals were basking on the river bank not far from the lock.  By the time I had the camera sorted I missed them!   River bank is all I got.

The third seal was in the water, so a head is as good as it gets again!

Next stop – the manned Hermitage lock and we were there in the nick of time – look behind us!

After that it was many miles of not much at all.



Well quite a bit of wild life

Cormorant

Great Crested Grebe

Little Egret

Who behaved like a heron and escorted us along the river    

A cow keeping cool

A heron

But mostly it was miles of this green sludge


With a brief moment of excitement when we spotted this rather glorious boat

At last Ely Cathedral hove into view

But it was around an hour before we were moored after the road bridge and before the rail bridge as you approach Ely.

Our view was a vast improvement on last time we were here.

Chris and I made our way to The Cutter Inn


for a pint of Doombar for him and tea with a scone, jam and clotted cream for me!  A very rare treat for me as Chris does not like afternoon tea & places that serve beer and afternoon tea are rather thin on the ground.

Friday 26th July 2014
Ely

A very lazy day and another scorcher.  Daryl (the pilot) called today to say we might be on for Tuesday rather than Monday, so we have a day in hand. We have met Patrick and Angela on nb Chouette (they are moored nearby) who are also booked to cross the Wash with us next week. 

First stop was brunch at the American diner.  With no shade outside we retreated in for our meal which was just as good as last time we passed this way.

Back to the boats and I spent the rest of the day catching up with bits and bobs.  An early supper and Boatwif and I went across town to view an amateur performance of She Stoops to Conquer in a pub garden.  Was it good?  Well it was okay – the second half was much better than the first.  Some cast members were good and some were not so good!  Were we glad we went?  Well I was and I think Boatwif was too.

Saturday 27th July
To The Ship Inn, Brandon Creek
9.25 miles, 0 locks

The days just get hotter and hotter!  Shopping and dog walking in the morning and then fill up with diesel before we headed off mid afternoon.

I have heard of 'hot desking', but today was' hot mooring' - before Cleddau had even slipped her moorings this cruiser was waiting to take the space we had left!


The hot weather necessitated the brolly as a parasol!


We furrowed a path through the weed out of Ely

At the first moorings out of Ely we went past nb Chouette. 

Our lesson for today - there was a space behind them where we could have breasted up, but as our plan was to go to Littleport where there is a choice of three good mooring sites, we continued on.  Wrong decision - all the moorings were packed!



On we went to The Ship Inn on the junction with Brandon Creek.  The EA moorings were full to bursting, but the pub moorings were empty.  A good spot with the sheep across the river, so no problems for Monty. There was one moment of concern - a flotilla of cruisers that were very noisy - the last one had music blaring out so loud it could be heard in the next county!!  Thankfully they went down Brandon Creek. The cost of the moorings - dinner in the pub which was good, so a price worth paying.

There must be something about our boat that is attractive to families of swans as these were at the stern on our return from the pub.  Lovely to see, but they do hate Monty - a lot of hissing and flapping of wings.

They did not stay long and it looks as though it might be another nice day tomorrow.

Total stats since leaving Droitwich on 23rd May:
318.25 miles, 214 locks

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