Tuesday 29 August 2017

14 August through Wellingborough to Northampton Washlands

14 August towards Northampton
Leaving our pleasant lakeside mooring behind, we soon passed under the railway viaduct and paused in Wellingborough. While the others shopped, John emptied holding tanks and chatted to a gentleman who remembered the grain barges unloading at Whittons mill opposite, many years ago.

approaching Wellingborough Lower Lock

checking water quality
The services block was closed, but John used a nearby park toilet to empty the holding tanks, which do not contain any chemicals, just raw poop!
Whittons Mill, Wellingborough

Upper Wellingborough Lock

Doddington Lock
Past lots of campers, chalets and moorings, we eventually reached Northampton Boat Club, where we saw our friends' Chris's and Elaine's boat Jophina II moored up while they spend time at home.

Jophina II at Northampton Boat Club, which had welcoming signs

Passing through the flood gate, we moored on the Northampton Washlands EA pontoon close by. The distant hum of road traffic did not spoil the tranquil beauty.
the Washlands are a large flood relief area below Abington Lock, Northampton

13 August Thrapston to near Wellingborough with Alison

13 August Islip to private lakeside near Wellingborough Aqueduct

Islip, Denford and Woodford Locks slipped by on our way upstream. The sunny morning made for a very pleasant cruise through the countryside.
approaching Islip Lock near Thrapston

Denford Lock

approaching Woodford Lock

about to enter Woodford Lock

Several groups of paddle boarders passed by
Woodford moorings

above Woodford Lock

stylish riverside house

waterfall over the top gates

quiet EA mooring by the defunct Rushden & Diamonds training ground
We had not realised we passed within six miles of Liana's sister, Alison, so her son Scott brought her to join us for a day or two. He took us all to nearby Higham Ferrers for a tasty pub lunch.
Setting off, we soon passed under the old stone bridge.
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a tight squeeze could be difficult in a strong current

safely through

unusually mitred gates at top and bottom

rotary bottom gate, even more unusual

the rotary gate
Alison's first locks were unusual for the Nene, one  having all mitred gates and another with a rare rotary gate.
We passed flooded gravel pits as we searched for a mooring. We tried to moor beside a lake with water skiers, and the kind land owner came over and pointed out a Friends of the River Nene mooring on his land where it would be easier to moor. He checked we were ok later, and we had a pleasant walk around the lake before sunset.
water skiers in the sun

FoTRN mooring near Wellingborough railway viaduct

Alison and Liana on lakeside walk

Monday 21 August 2017

12 August Up the Nene: Oundle to Thrapston

Saturday 12 August Oundle Cruising Club to near Thrapston (9 miles, 4 locks)
Engine hrs 2850, Diesel 154.6 litres bought at Oundle (70p @ 0%)

Oundle Cruising Club visitor mooring

After checking oil, John took Annie to top up with diesel next door at Oundle Marina, with its narrow entrance. The marina has showers, loos, Elsan and laundrette and a good chandlery, the first since Fox's Marina at March on the Middle Levels. John thinks one of the leisure batteries may be on the way out, so measured the battery voltages, which seemed low at about 12 volts. Next job will be to measure each battery voltage separately – they should be nearer to 12.5 volts, so a damaged cell may cause a lower voltage and potentially harm the other batteries. The engine is still losing a little oil intermittently, rather strangely. The helpful marina chandlery gave us the name of a mobile Nene boat mechanic, Rick Daimond, 07481 090922, just in case ….
Upper Barnwell Lock

After messaging John's cousin about a possible visit and finding the EA key needed for locks, we set off, immediately having to wait as two boats descended Upper Barnswell Lock. John moved Annie back on the lock mooring to help the boats leave the lock more easily.
We passed the moorings at Lilford Lodge Marina before seeing the grandeur of Lilford Hall (once home of a famous ornithologist) and fancy arched bridge before Lilford Lock.
Lilford Lodge Marina

Lilford Hall

Lilford Hall bridge

Lilford Lock

Cattle pastures and weirs border the river here, while the Nene Way crosses and recrosses.
one of lots of weirs


Nene Way bridge near Wadenhoe

Canoes kept coming down river towards us, so John had to be careful.
At Wadenhoe Lock, it filled itself quickly once Liana closed the guillotine gate, water pouring over the top gates! Liana didn't need the paddles! The rest of the river is ok, so it must be the nearby overflow weir is slightly too high, forcing more water over the lock top gates.
Wadenhoe Lock: Liana did not open the paddles to fill it!

Wadenhoe outdoor wedding - seems to be the vogue these days

Wadenhoe Lock filled itself as water poured over the top gate. We passed another wedding at Wadenhoe, using the wigwam tents seen recently at Water Newton. More canoeists paddled by on our way to the Middle Nene Cruising Club at Titchmarsh lock.

below Titchmarsh Lock

Middle Nene Cruising Club by Titchmarsh Lock
We avoided lots of canoeists and passed through a narrow sedge-filled channel on the way to our mooring below Islip lock, near Thrapston.
avoiding the canoeists

overgrown channel

excellent flood haven mooring below Islip Lock
Apparently the Nene is pronounced Nen, not Neen, above Thrapston Town Bridge, so tomorrow we should change!

9-12 August Family interlude

Wednesday 9 August Liana's Birthday Celebrations
We gathered in Leicester with daughters Sarah and Rachel, son-in-law Matthew plus Liana's mum and sister Alison, to enjoy each other's company and celebrate Liana's birthday: Her big present is to be a new Embroidery sewing machine to complement her well-used Janome sewing machine. Matthew sneaked a win at Settlers of Catan, surprising rivals Liana and Alison, who were both very, very close to winning!!

Thursday 10 August
Back home for laundry, cutting grass and weeding, plus catching up on mail and organising our lives outside the boat!
Oh yes …... John is to get winter fuel allowance, much to his young wife's amusement!!  :/

Friday 11 August Back to Annie
We have just been told that our lovely brother-in-law has just had a stroke, and is recovering in hospital, so our most important activity today was to talk to brother and sisters and niece Jo, to check on his progress, show our love and concern usefully and give moral support.  Visiting my sister in Lincoln, we found my brother and his wife there, too, so we all had a good chance to cheer each other up.
Having cut grass and weeded at home, plus washed and dried copious laundry, and visited our friends and neighbours to catch up and collect oil and air filters for Annie, we could consider returning to Annie. The A1 and roads were busy. We had a drink in the nicely furnished boat club bar, and played Northampton table skittles before having an early night.

4 - 8 August Up the Nene: Peterborough to Oundle Cruising Club moorings

Friday 4 August back to Ferry Meadows
Walking from the boat, through Peterborough Riverside Park past the facilities, then across the road to the beautiful rose garden, we found ourselves entering the Cathedral precincts from the rear, past the old monks refectory and what remains of the cloisters, around the Cathedral and out under the arch into the market place, with its beflowered central market building, which looks very French to us: A lovely way to enter Peterborough city centre. We gave up trying to buy a new oil filter in Peterborough – too far to walk, too long to wait for a bus. After shopping at Asda, we decided to cruise back to Ferry Meadows, as it was a nice afternoon. Chatted to fellow boaters at Orton Lock on the way. Only one cruiser at the lovely Overton Lake pontoon moorings. Fajitas for tea, but bad tv reception, so Liana read and John watched more Game of Thrones dvd episodes.

Saturday 5 August Ferry Meadows to near Wansford Station
A lovely morning saw us watching the Park Run, with hundreds of participants, beginning within yards of our mooring. We caught the 1035 Nene Valley Railway steam train (£13 each) and visited Orton Mere, Peterborough and Yarwell Halt, for the line follows the river, of course! We had time to look at rolling stock at Wansford and Peterborough, and could have gone to and fro several times, but decided to set off on Annie in the sunshine.  Alwalton Lock moorings were full, but it was no hardship to retrace our steps past meadows and weirs to the lovely stone mill and houses at  Water Newton, where we found the wigwams complete and a wedding reception in full swing by lock and church. Nearing Sibson, we passed the Mick George Marina project, still a hole in the ground, before passing the full mooring pontoon by the bridge below Wansford Nene Valley Railway station. We were lucky enough to see the steam train from Annie as we reached Wansford. John spotted a good mooring on pasture just below the bridge, on the opposite side, so we used pins and settled in, enjoying the evening sunshine.

Sunday 6 August up river to Fotheringhay Castle (11 miles, 4 locks)
Sunshine again! After checking oil, John set off while Liana did jobs inside. The Nene makes wide wooded looping turns here, past Stibbington, making the journey to Wansford village bosky and relaxing. While you might try mooring under the A1 bridge, there is no real public mooring here, despite one being shown on the Imray guide. The ancient stone bridge, presumably once for the Great North Road, maybe, spans the river near scenic stone houses with lovely riverside gardens. Reaching Yarwell Lock, the kind owners of NB Wandering Whimbrel reopened the guillotine gate and we had a good chat with them both. Leaving them to get water, we passed the abuttments for a railway bridge, one of two that the NVR conductor told us yesterday they could have bought for £1 but needed to spend £30000 on them, so declined. They were dismantled, which seems a shame, as one bequest could have paid for that and left the possibility of extending the line further up the valley. We viewed parachutists jumping from biplanes near Yarwell, while the sunny day and idyllic scenery met us as we journeyed through Elton Lock and Warmington Lock, the first unpowered lock we had met. We took a while to figure out the EA key and lockable bolt mechanism for the big wheel you have to turn to operate the guillotine gate. Reaching Fotheringhay, we saw castle mound and huge church behind, mooring where friends Chris and Elaine Turner had been last night: We must have just missed them. Within minutes, the farmer's wife arrived for their £5 fee, but she told us the church was open for visitors, so we went after climbing the castle mound: The motte and bailey is all that remains, as the castle stone was sold to build a pub, the Talbot, in Oundle ….. how are the mighty humbled! The church is well worth a visit, with lots of history explained inside. After chatting with friendly boaters and walkers, the clouds arrived as evening came.

Monday 7 August Fotheringhay to Oundle

Tuesday 8 August (3 miles, 2 locks)
Absolute torrential rain clattered on the roof overnight and through the morning, until it stopped and allowed us to travel around a loop of the Nene to moor using posts at Oundle Cruising Club, arranged by telephone earlier, next to Oundle Marina (shop and diesel closed tuesdays), a mile away as the crow flies!

30 July - 3 August River Nene cruise with Carson and the boys unfinished

Sunday 30 July March to Whittlesey with Carson, George and Josh

After our family celebrations, Sarah and Liana cooked breakfast for fourteen in Leicester (thank you!). Then we took Carson, George and Josh to March. John cleaned up oil in the engine compartment while others shopped, before we set off for Whittlesey. The water was so clear you could see the many fishes and the bottom easily in the afternoon sun. Carson and Josh took turns steering while we chatted.

Josh and George liked walking along the gunwhales

Carson and John both had a go at steering Annie

Josh steering
George operating Ashline Lock on the Middle Levels
George, Carson and John relaxing as we moored at Whittlesey above Ashline Lock by the Sports Centre

Monday 31 July Whittlesey through Stansground Lock to Ferry Meadows
Carson got up early and had a shower in the sports centre! Once we had had a leisurely breakfast, we set off through Whittlesey, which had narrows and a sharp bend or two, then into the country for two or three miles to Stansground Lock.
narrows at Whittlesey

the water was clear so you could see lots of fish in the sun

beautiful morning on the Middle Level
Stansground Lock is where you rise from the Middle Levels (no license but ML key needed, available from lock keeper) onto the River Nene (EA license and key required). The lady lock keeper informed us we should have booked passage, but helped us through anyway. Apparently she is the third generation to work the lock. This lock protects the Middle Levels from inundation by the Nene.
Waiting to go through Stansground Lock and onto the River Nene. Carson, Josh and George on boat, Liana walking to lock
 Once on the Nene, we crossed the river and emptied loo holding tanks while filling up with water and discarding rubbish at the EA services in the park above the steps on the Riverside. Leaving exploration of the city until another day, we pushed on through the Town Bridge, past the grain barge restaurant boat to moorings outside ASDA, while Carson and Liana went with George to stock up with food and drink. Passers by admired Annie and fed the wildfowl.
Annie moored  at the services, Peterborough Riverside

Moored outside ASDA. There is a gate through the railings!

feeding the swans at Peterborough
We cruised under low railway bridges near the Nene Valley Railway station and past the sculpture park, through surprisingly rural wooded scenery to Orton Lock and weir, close to Orton Mere NVR station. Lots of folk were watching the boats in the lock, which had an electric guillotine bottom sluice gate. Like the services, you needed an EA key to operate it.

Reaching Ferry Meadows park, where we had once caravanned, we turned down the connecting channel and moored on the pretty Overton Lake, with its island, cormorants and other wild fowl. The visitors centre close by provided a nice coffee! Loads of visitors walked, jogged and cycled around.
Liana and Annie moored at Overton Lake, Ferry Meadows

Tuesday 1 August Ferry Meadows to Yarwell Lock
This sunny morning was perfect for playing pitch & putt golf nearby, close to the NVR station. All four men had a go, while Liana had a coffee at the visitors centre and tidied, before joining them for the last couple of holes. Carson was not having his best game, while John was, surprisingly, more consistent! Certain others seemed to have problems with counting shots!
wildfowl on Overton Lake island

Avoiding canoeists as we enter the Overton Lake channel onto the Nene

Milton Ferry Bridge

After playing with a "bomb" Josh had bought ( a cross between a small American football and a dart), we set off in the sun for Wansford, but the mooring by the NVR station was full, so we carried on. John and Carson steered and chatted, while Josh, George and Liana played Monopoly Deal. Liana and Carson did the locks.
Approaching Water Newton Lock

Bright sunshine below Yarwell Lock
In the end, as there was nowhere to moor, and it was 7pm and dinner ready, we ascended Yarwell Lock and had to moor on the lock landing. The two moorings at the mill (£10/night) there were taken, too! We could water up, anyway.
The evening was spent playing "The Game", Settlers of Catan, followed by Prediction Whist, until we had to stop at midnight!

Wednesday 2 August back to Ferry Meadows
John got up early and prepared the lock, as we were moored on the lock landing. However, we saw no one. Carson and the boys decided they didn't want to go on the Nene Valley Railway, a short walk away, as they would be on the train all day tomorrow, so we set off down river together.
new private marina at Ship End Pits stone quarry

boat near Wansford

NVR steam train at Wansford Station, with EA mooring below
Carson and John ate their breakfast as they shared the steering, while Carson and Liana operated the locks. The boys were having a leisurely breakfast and then chilling, playing computer games.
Annie at Water Newton Lock moorings

We passed our friends Chris and Elaine Turner on NB Jophina II at Alwalton Lock, so had a chance to catch up.
Chris Turner and Liana at Alwalton Lock

Elaine Turner on Jophina II

Jophina II and Annie breasted up
Canoeists near Milton \Ferry \bridge

Mooring at Overton Lake, Ferry Meadows, we had a Costa and Carson bought the boys another “bomb” (like a cross between a small american football and a dart), but it didn't last and they had to get a third! Liana and the boys played Monopoly Deal  before tea. After tea, we played Settlers of Catan, which  the boys seem to be enjoying, and Josh just missed winning, pipped at the post by his father! Bed at 1030 as Josh was very tired after his late night.

Thursday 3 August Farewell to Carson and the boys at Peterborough
Up early so we could take Carson, George and Josh the three miles and one lock to Peterborough, to catch the 1015 train back to Edinburgh. George used our trolley as we walked ½ mile to the station from the mooring by Asda. The station was very busy, so we left them and found a Costa to use wifi, to catch up on emails and John's blog. Later we visited the lovely Cathedral and viewed an exhibition of 14 huge needlework pictures depicting the story of Revelations – very effective. After a lunch at Macdonalds, we headed back to the boat, moored on the riverside near the facilities and chilled,