Saturday, 15 July 2017

Friday 14 July Great Barford to Bedford (8 miles, 4 locks)

Friday 14 July Great Barford to Bedford (8 miles, 4 locks)

Someone saved pennies when they widened and repaired Great Barford Bridge, using bricks instead of the lovely old stone. The Anchor pub and village green, where we moored, next to the bridge are popular with the locals.
We passed the derelict old lock, gateless, before reaching 0508 Willington Lock, the first of several deeper locks today. Passing the Danish Camp, once a safe harbour deepened for 30 long boats and 2500 Danes, behind embankments and moat, it had lots of information boards and walks to enjoy.
Liana pointed out the second Kingfisher of the day as we passed high banks as the river narrowed, willows overhanging, making for some beautiful views.

"Look, a Kingfisher!"

Chalets bordered the river

approaching Castle Mill Lock

Deep Castle Mill Lock
Castle Mill Lock was the deepest encountered, as the water falling over the sluices shows.
Cardington Lock

At Cardington Lock we encountered cheery canoeists, near the slalom course. A kind fisherman helped us keep the bottom gates shut while Liana ran to the top to press the button on the first electrical guillotine gate we had met for days.
Passing Bedford Boat Club, at BWML's Priory Marina, we emptied loo holding tanks and filled up with 171 litres of diesel (72p/L), used since Langrick Bridge on the Witham.
Bedford Boat Club was 100% cruisers

getting diesel at Priory Marina below Bedford

Engineers Bridge was very low

Bedford Lock Bridge was about 2m headroom
Despite advice to moor below the lock, we inched under the low Engineers and Bedford Lock bridges, went up onto the upper river and enjoyed the riverside view to the Sovereign Quay mooring opposite County Hall, which has a water point.
Liana nibbling by Bedford Bridge

Bedford Riverside

Annie moored at Bedford Riverside

Friday night and no other boats! We saw rowing eights, but to our delight water polo practice took place right by Annie. Goals were raised high above the water as two teams of five played, refereed from the bank. They use yellow and red cards, too! The club was Bedford Vikings Polo Club. Our daughter Jo, a kayaker, knew of the slalom centre at Cardington nearby, too. Their mentor was ex-RAF from Coningsby, Lincolnshire, when John chatted to learn more.

Thursday 13 July St Neots Lock to Great Barford (9 miles 4 locks)

Thursday 13 July St Neots Lock to Great Barford (9 miles 4 locks)
leaving St Neots lock early

Crosshall Marina was all small cruisers

As we were on the end of the lock landing, we got up and went up the lock early and passed Crosshall Marina and Ouse Valley River Club.

We moored for water and a visit on the excellent floating pontoon by the Priory Centre,by St Neots Bridge.

St Neots church
the Priory Centre moorings had water

Opposite were decent public moorings with pilings, both sides of the bridge. St Neots town centre was busy, with a Thursday market. We were impressed with the town centre church, outside and in, with lovely stained glass windows.

After sandwiches on board, we set off in sunshine, Liana busy with puzzles and watching Wimbledon, John enjoying the river. We squeezed in Eaton Socon Lock with friendly folk on a cruiser.

Annie passed four busy weed cutting and collecting workboats.
Weed Collector

Weed Cutter

Approaching Tempsford Bridge, we saw brown and cream NB Mr Heron, once at Torksey. The old Tempsford Bridge contrasted with the concrete A1 bridge.

looking back through Tempsford Old Bridge at the new A1 bridge

Passing an orange lifeboat, we operated the four gates at Roxton Lock (no guillotine gate)

Annie below Roxton Lock

Rowers were active at Great Barford Lock. We moored on the village green moorings, opposite the GOBA moorings 490,492, 493, 497.
below Great Barford Lock

moored on the village green at Great Barford, by the pub

the view down river from Great Barford Bridge
Johanna Konta lost at Wimbledon, sadly.

10-12 July St Ives to Huntingdon and on to below St Neots lock

Monday 10 July 2017 Back to Annie at St Ives
We have had an interesting long weekend with old friends: Liana has been in Leicester partly, with university friends Marise and Fran, staying with our daughters, while John's school friend David Holehouse and Joanie have stayed at our home while visiting old friends and old haunts on a retirement trip from Canada. This included Sam Howard, who welded yet another bracket for Annie, this time one that supports the (unused) bow thruster pump itself. It's such a heavy affair, the strain on thick steel causes fatigue fractures! Sam added an extra strengthening piece, so hopefully this should improve things. John collected 20L (the minimum amount!) of Morris Narrowboat Oil from E-Quip, our excellent local firm.
After lunch with Liana's mum, Flo, in Nottingham, we arrived via A52, A1 and A14 in St Ives precisely as predicted by Sat Nav. Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge are all close to the A14, and are linked by the guided bus. St Ives Marina has friendly staff and a good chandlers, and charged a reasonable £55 for a week's mooring.

Tuesday 11 July

St Ives bridge and Riverside
After settling up and checking the boat, we paused at lovely St Ives Riverside to shop and have good Fish and Chips at the welcoming Turkish owner's Local Fish Shop near the river. We then suffered pouring rain, so we moored the short distance away at beautiful Hemingford Grey.

Liana at Hemingford Lock in the rain

NB Scarpa Wash nound
At Hemingford Lock we met NB Scarpa, and were able to advise them about their proposed trip across the Wash and up the River Witham.
The rain really had settled in for the night, as forecast, so we watched Wimbledon: Johanna Konta just beat Miss Halep in a thrilling, hard fought match, the first Brit into the semi-finals since Virginia Wade in 1977 (won) and 1978 (lost).

Wednesday 12 July
friendly cows at Hemingford GOBA mooring

Liana at Houghton Lock

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Leaving cows and boats at Hemingford meadow, we soon passed Houghton Lock again, helped by a friendly family in their motorboat. The sun shone, increasingly. There is a busy asphalt path past the lock joining Houghton with the Hemingfords across Houghton Meadow, used by walkers and cyclists.
413, 415, 419
Houghton Meadow with path across it

Daylock Marine Services

entrance to large Hartford Marina

Annie passed Daylock Marine Services and the more scenic Hartford Marina. Apparently, the poet William Cowper loved Hartford church.
421, 423, 424
Hartford Church, loved by the poet William Cowper

Huntingdon mooring by bridge

Huntingdon Bridge

We moored below Huntingdon bridge and explored the town.

We moored below Huntingdon bridge and explored the pleasant small town. The small market had stalls we had seen in St Ives. We had tea in the church, where stalls were selling in aid of RNIB.

Passing through Godmanchester lock, we moved west to Brampton mill, where there are ok pasture GOBA moorings. A mile above Brampton Lock we passed poor rough GOBA moorings. EA and GOBA moorings below Offord Lock were non-existent! Brambles prevailed. We finsished up going another five miles past poor GOBA moorings at Little Paxton, and had to moor at the end of the lock landing at St Neots lock quite late, about 7 PM. So much for GOBA. A strimmer would work wonders at their moorings.