Sunday, 6 July 2014

Earith, St Ives and Godmanchester

A four day catch up - we are just having too much fun to keep up to date!

Thursday 3rd July
Ely to Earith
15.5 miles, 1 lock

Another lovely sunny day, but with a brisk wind which made the move across to the water point in Ely interesting, but we both made it safely and set off for Earith.  Fairly plain sailing (sorry) along the Great Ouse which in places was narrow and leafy and definitely not ‘great in size’

But in other parts it did live up to it’s name
We went past Stretham Old Engine.

There are quite a few good moorings around this part of the Ouse one very long one – totally empty – well not quite – just one small cruiser moored right in the middle!! 

There were a lot of boats moving – more than we have seen in days.  At the bridge by the Lazy Otter Pub, we were alerted that there was a boat coming through, so we could hold back.  What we were not expecting was for her to go across in front of us to moor up!  Still no one bumped and we went on our way to moor in Earith where it appears there is a family of seals living in the marina.  Chris saw two basking in the evening sun, but did not have a camera with him – I only managed a shot of a head!

There are also little egrets and oyster catchers.  Also spotted today were a few Great Crested Grebes.

Earith has a small shop, this house which looks Flemish

And we wondered if this was once a kiln?
 Whatever it is or was we thought it was rather attractive

 It is not the best stopping place for walks, but it did us just fine for one night.  Certainly a good spot for wildlife and the evening ended with a wonderfully mellow sky.

Friday 4th July
To St Ives
7.25 miles, 2 locks

We were off (just check out that sky!) and waved farewell to the crew of nb Beaulieu who we had breasted up with overnight.  

We were back to big river with wide flood plains

Once again there were good moorings to be found, but perhaps one should avoid The Old Ferryboat Inn

We spied this three storey boat?

And does anyone live here?

The locks round here are a different shape and for the most part we can get both boats in.

Whilst we were at St Ives lock a coal lorry arrived – he had twenty sacks to deliver (two at a time)

To the house across the sluice – there is no other road access.  Surprisingly there is no extra charge for his efforts – I hope he had a good breakfast.  Coal is (so I was told) £1 a bag cheaper in the summer, so stocking up on such a hot day makes sense.

Before we knew it we were in St Ives and there was one space left on Town Quay, so Cleddau made sure it was ours

We breasted up beside her – with our sterns by the steps for easy access. 

And yet another great view – the chapel on the bridge is one of only three ‘bridge churches’ left in the country and is, apparently, the best.   It has been a toll house, an inn and a private dwelling as well as a chapel.  Our book says it is open to the public, but I failed to see any signs that you could explore.

A quick wander round the town where we found Oliver Cromwell (he lived here from 1631-1636) 

Then a piece of Monty heaven – a large water meadow for endless running and leaping through the undergrowth.

This is over behind the Dolphin Hotel – there are some good moorings along there (both public and for patrons), but they were all full.

How to beat car parking fees – do your shopping by boat – the only downside – you have to throw out all the bread that passing pedestrians have lobbed in whilst feeding the many swans and ducks.

As we arrived I had spotted a yellow bike locked against the quay side and thought to myself it was an unusual colour, then another was spotted on the bridge behind the chapel and a third outside Waitrose. 

It transpired that this is part of a ‘St Ives Big Yellow Bike Hike’ – it is aimed at those under 8.  A quiz sheet can be obtained and there are prizes if you can match the bikes’ locations to the quiz questions.  Each bike had a small yellow jersey attached to the handlebars.  The third stage of the Tour de France starts in Cambridge, so getting in on the act I guess!

The day ended with a superb meal at an Italian restaurant, Amore, a full 20 yards or so from our back doors!  The rain started as we got back to the boats, but sadly it did not diminish the party goers – it was very noisy until late.  Boatwif and I discovered the next day that we had both resorted to ear plugs!  Despite being in the centre of town and the noise we all felt safe and secure and it would not have been any quieter round by the Dolphin Hotel.

We only had time to get a brief feeling for the town of St Ives – we loved what we saw and would happily go back again to explore further.

Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July
To Godmanchester
6.25 miles, 3 locks

I am glad to say that Monty is never in any hurry to go out first in the morning.  This is especially appreciated when we are in towns as standing outside in my nightie in public does not rate high on my list of things to do before I die!  Especially when it is pouring as it was when we first got up.  As you can see Monty was very comfortable and happy to wait!

By the time we left it was still very grey, but thankfully dry.

Once again we went past a lot of good moorings – I definitely think GOBA membership if you come this way is a wise investment and apparently GOBA have made some sort of agreement with the Cam Conservators that allow you to go further than you could without being charged an arm and a leg.  I cannot remember the extent of the navigation, but we did spot a notice with details at Houghton Locks.

This is St James’ Parish Church at Hemingford Grey.  It dates from the 13th century, but the tower blew
down in 1741.  There is a tale in our book about the devil taking it, but I guess bad weather is not a new phenomenon! 

I continue to be astounded by the number of thatched properties we have seen - definitely not something I have ever associated with this part of the world.

Unusually Houghton Meadows has public moorings owned by the local council and very good they look too.

It was a bit further along on some GOBA moorings that we spotted this rather unusual boat which came into Godmanchester this morning (Sunday 6th).

 As we approached Houghton Lock there were boats and gongoozlers (lock watchers) everywhere.  This is a place that means something to our children - a couple of 'Dad and children' canoe weekends were spent here many moons ago.  I also remember walking here when our children helped a couple (they seemed quite old at the time, but were almost certainly our age now!) through the lock and they were rewarded with (I think) 20p each to buy an ice cream.  You would not get much for that these days!

This lock is slightly smaller, but we still managed to get both boats in – just!

 Then past Hartford Church.

Through Huntingdon

 Past some seriously nice houses

Fancy a barbecue here?

to Godmanchester past the park where we spied this peeping through the trees

 the back of a large slide – was something going on?  Indeed it was – Godmanchester Gala on Saturday and a Picnic in the Park on Sunday.  Somebody was smiling down on the good people of Godmanchester as they could not have asked for better weather.

Our minds immediately turned to mooring – would there be any? Hard left after the lock – well forward a bit and reverse and yes, the moorings were empty, but not for long!

A good view across the river

And a very busy lock behind the fence – it was still going strong at 8pm 

Many boats went past including canoeists – these had started at Bedford and were making for St Neots –all in one day.  It made our trip from St Ives seem a little feeble especially as we had engines doing the work!

Sunday dawned dry and bright and mutual friends from an unmentionable number of years back arrived for coffee and boat inspection and then lead us back to their house through all the throngs assembling for the Picnic in the Park

Past the duck race - finished with canoeists collecting up all the ducks

 The very attractive Causeway across the way

Across the Chinese bridge

Along the street past ‘Mary Poppins at the Co op’ (all made from recycled material)

To entertain us with a spread fit for royalty - how is this for a very special couscous salad – it tasted as good as it looked

Some perfectly barbecued meat

The weather was perfect – we sat in the sun, chatted, drank and ate and had a thoroughly wonderful time.  The meal was finished off with summer pudding.  A lesson for today - summer pudding does very well being frozen and thawed - something I would never have thought of doing.
Tea was drunk, but the offer of scones and cakes had to be declined as tummies were full to bursting.  We took our leave around 17:30 to make our way back to the boats.  Thank you both for a very special day – it was so good to catch up with all your news and busy lives

Into the park where the picnic was still in full swing

and onto the boats where the music was still very loud, but I am glad to say it ceased just before 19:30 (showing my age!). Now all I can hear is the wind in the trees and the occasional voice drifting on the wind.  This morning we think we spotted an otter crossing the river – maybe when it is all quiet, we might again.  The camera will be poised.

Two things learnt over the last couple of days (apart from freezing summer pudding!)– when washing the roof (Chris) and sloshing buckets full of water all over the place – you really do need to shut the windows, especially when big cleaning is going on inside!  Then this morning there was a worry about the water pump – why was it running?  There were no taps on.  Switches were found and they were turned off and on, off and on and it still occurred.  It took a while but finally I remembered the washing machine was on!   RCR were not required!!  I think honours for idiocy are about even between us now!

Tomorrow we are off again and will be in Bedford on Wednesday when both crews are off to our respective homes for a week. 

Stats so far for this trip

230.5 miles, 188 locks


  1. WOW! Those moorings at Godmanchester look great. The last time we were there the edge was only concrete and most had fallen into the river. EA had the mooring suspended although we couldn't see the signs we moored there anyway. What a difference! Good ol' EA!

    1. They certainly are great Sue and now wonderfully quiet. I was so pleased to read that your engine troubles are behind you. Thanks also for the info re the Lark and Wissey - at present we have a date of 28 Jul for the Wash, so will not have time to dally on the way after the Bedford River Festival.

    2. Thanks Jennie yes our problems are well and truly over. I am enjoying your trip up the Gt Ouse, one of my favourite rivers which, watching you and boatwif has decided me to seriously think about that for next spring..

      If you have time for the Wissey then do try, it is the best river of them all off the Gt Ouse in my opinion. You can turn at the sugar factory if you don't want to go to the end..