Thursday, 12 June 2014

Five Days on the Nene

Northampton to Oundle
34.5 miles 26 locks
6th to 10th Jume 2014

Six days behind and the days are merging into one another!  There has been lack of time due to a couple of long days and lack of signal.  We arrived in Oundle Marina yesterday and will be here until next Tuesday.  We have signal and I can catch up at last, but this is a very lengthy post, so a cuppa/glass of something might be in order before you start!

This is our first experience of the River Nene and we both agree it is very pretty, but oh so different to the canals.  
It is wide in places

then it narrows in others

and very bendy in others.  Buildings appear on one side one minute, then the other and then back again!  We have seen Cleddau going round the bend on many occasions.  

A positive is the speed one can motor at, but oh the locks -hard work and such variety.  The other great stress (for us) is finding moorings.  We are so glad we are with Cleddau and her experienced crew – they are paving the way for us very well and we are very grateful.  And so to catch up:

The locks – so far

                                          They do all have bridges so no clambering over gates

 They are large

Some have pointed gates at both ends, but most have guillotine gates at the lower end and they are seriously big.  

 Pushing the button 

They are either operated electronically by means of holding a button in until the gate opens enough to empty the lock.  You then wait for the lock to empty and press again for around 2.5 minutes until the gate is fully up.  Thankfully they have to be left open, so easy for us going down – not so much fun if you are going up.

 Or they have a ‘big wheel’ to spin and that takes some doing I can assure you.  I was lucky at one of the locks as a very kindly gentleman came to render assistance. 

And then there is Ditchford Lock with this rather impressive radial gate like the Thames Barrier. 

Some gate paddles have to be wound many times to raise or lower them – the most I counted was about 80 revolutions!  Better than going to the gym!!

 We seem to be in the middle of nowhere most of the time (I do know the real world is not far away!), so I was surprised to see so many gongoozlers at Irthlingborough Lock on Sunday morning.  We did get the two with feet dangling to move away before we brought the boats in and starting chucking ropes around.

And then there is the floodgate – thankfully all was quiet when we went past, but it looks to be a serious bit of kit.

The Weather:

Apart from Saturday morning when we headed off in pouring rain and wet weather gear it has been remarkably good.  The shorts have even come out and today the hats were donned.

The Fauna:
Swans a plenty

Geese a gathering

Some wonderful aerobatics performed by kites
 The obligatory heron

A lone cormorant (please correct me if I am wrong)

A mass of (we think – oh to have the extensive knowledge of our ornithologist son) Common Terns flitting by so elegantly and so fast there was no time to take a picture

Are these Widgeon?  No according to ornithologist son they are Egyptian Geese.

The Captain has seen a kingfisher, but the rest of us missed it and Chris spotted a snake swimming in the river - probably a grass snake, but too far off to identify.

Monty has spotted a few rabbits, but they don’t hang around for long!

And the Flora:

The lilies will be wonderful in a day or two 

                                  Green wherever we look, sometimes as far as the eye can see

An interesting tree at Wadenhoe

Poppies - one of my favourites


I was promised Church Spires as we sailed along and I was not disappointed

Woodford Church

Denford Church

Thrapston Church

Wadenhoe Church

We have also noted three distinct types of churchyard: 

Thrapston churchyard – these are all ancient graves, so the gravestones have been moved to the perimeter lines for ease of management of the grass.Thrapston Churchyard

Wadenhoe churchyard – the grass is just cut and left lying

Oundle Churchyard – this is actively managed

some parts are left uncut

And others are cut.  It all depends on the area and the season. 

This is the plan of how it is all managed 


Friday 6th June: Cogenhoe to be met with this notice:

Can we moor here?

However Boatwif asked at the Caravan site office and was informed it was okay to moor for 48 hours – the signs went up as a result of someone staying for three years!

The neighbours are nosey - time to remove the balls

Idyliic, but Monty was not sure about the neighbours and it was impossible to keep one’s shoes clean

This was the view that greeted me when I opened the blind in the galley on Saturday morning

Saturday 7th June: The Football Ground at Irthlingborough

These are really good moorings with a great view.  We were very pleased to stop after a very long day.  The decision was made not to stop in Wellingborough as it was quite full and rather noisy and this was the first place that gave us reasonable moorings.  Monty is being resistant to the gangplank (we are undergoing training), so for now we need to be leaping distance from the river bank.  We woke on Sunday to find a car boot sale going on behind us, but there was no noise or bother and it was a perfect spot for Cleddau to receive visitors.  Friends of theirs we had heard a lot about, but never met and it was a pleasure to do so.  Chris made a foray into the village for a paper – a very small place about 15 mins walk away, but with a reasonable shop.

View from the side hatch as the evening drew in

Sunday 8th June: Middle Nene Sailing Club just after Islip Lock.

Really good and plenty of space for two when we arrived

but after a while we were both breasted up – us with nb Chatsworth with a South African crew and Cleddau with nb Jasmine with a single-handed lady with two dogs. 

 It was a wonderfully social mooring with lots of human and dog chats. We have no idea who these people are, but Monty seemed to like them!

Boatwif and I ventured into Thrapston on Monday morning to find a rather lovely town with a good array of shops (Butcher (closed on Monday), baker, pharmacy, One Stop Shop and Co-op along with three pubs that we noticed and a Fish and Chip shop.  There are other independent shops to browse if you have the time and inclination. 

Monday 9th June: The Kings Head at Wadenhoe

We are booked in for dinner tonight, so the moorings are free and rather wonderful.  We had a really short day today – just the one lock and one and half hours motoring, hence the time to catch up.  The weather is glorious, so a pint or two were purchased and we sat and had lunch at a table in the shade of some rather magnificent trees in the pub garden – bliss.  This really is the life!!

Other bits and bobs:

One bit of excitement we could have done without – when we arrived at Northampton on Thursday Chris noticed something awry in the engine room.   An email to the boat builder that evening resulted in a phone conversation Friday morning, his agreement that it needed to be looked at, checked and if necessary repaired and he arranged for someone from Gayton Marina to fix it for us.  It made for a late start, but that is part and parcel of boating and we were lucky that we were so accessible and that Bob has contacts all over the place!!  Even better that we are still under warranty, so no cost to us. 

There are plenty of people messing about on the river

An unusual travelling companion - Guinness the Mynah bird

Just as you have escaped from a close encounter with a tree on a blind bend - this appears!

We have enjoyed some lovely walks.  We are off to explore Barnwell Country Park today, having had a good mooch round Oundle yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. Such wonderful photos Jennie. We are both enjoying the tales of your journey and are so pleased that you are having such a great time.
    Happy Birthday Chris, I hope you have a super day today. x