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A New Season,- Bedford To Barford On Aunt Erika - by Dave Saunders
the first opportunity to get away for the weekend on the boat and try
out the rudder safe fitted over the winter lay-up.
We left the marina on Saturday morning with the children following behind in the dinghy. I hope no one thinks me irresponsible! We were able to keep in contact with each other via our two way radios. Both are competent swimmers, both wear correctly fitted buoyancy aids and have been around water and boats for a few years and know how to behave around and respect the water.
The river was in
good condition, usually at this time of year the river is fast flowing
or in flood, but due to the lack of rain this was not the case.
Cardington Lock has an electric guillotine gate on the up stream end and pointed doors on the down. The EA had done some work on the lock over the winter and it was now very easy to open the down stream doors that had been very stiff during the last season.
Once clear of the lock the river narrowed and the speed limit drooped to 4 mph. To our left was the Priory Country Park and to our right the cattle grazed, sharing the field with the pheasants that appear to be in abundance this year. Once under the old rail bridge the river widened up and the speed limit increased to 7mph again, but I kept my speed to 4/5 mph so as the kids could keep up. On the left we passed one of the many moorings leased by GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association).
Castle Mill Lock was the next navigational encounter. This lock has pointed door at both ends, is very deep and fills and empty's in the middle of the pen. Great care needed to be taken on leaving this lock as over the 5 years we have been cruising this section an island has been created from the shoaling from the weir.
The Lock is to the left. The island is in the middle of this picture.
One day I intend to moor up and claim the island by erecting a VOC burgee!!!
Carrying on down river we passed under the road viaduct after witch the river winds and turns around a series of bends. Here we spotted the blue flash of the kingfisher as he skimmed across the river. The bank steepened and we passed some log cabins that have been built on the hill side. Here is also the home of a bird of prey (Falcon I think) and it was nice to see him perched on his boat.
Around some more
bends and we past The Danish Camp (more info later) and on to Willington
Lock. Here the children had had enough of the dinghy and re-joined the
This is probably the most challenging navigational obstacle on the Great Ouse. Many boats from down stream will not attempt to navigate further upstream for fear of negotiating this bridge. When going down stream most boats use the up stream arch as it is slightly higher. My 26 will go through the up stream arch with canopy down and screen up but to successfully clear the down stream arc h the screen has to be lowered.
We moored just after
the bridge on the GOBA mooring opposite the pub and 48 hour EA mooring.
While lunch was being prepared the children and I played with the Frisbee!
Next morning we
departed at around 9.00am to head back up river. Once under the bridge
we saw the rabbits playing in the field to our left and the sheep with
there lambs to our right, spring had definitely sprung !!
We moored up and
ordered the full English breakfast. All food is cooked to order and
reasonably priced. Once our bellies were full the children took to the
dinghy and we continued our voyage.
We returned to our
mooring and spent the afternoon giving the boat a clean and telling
those who still have there boats on the hard standing what a fantastic
time they were missing!
Just before we returned
home a little more fun was had in the dinghy.
thanks to Dave for his kind permssion to include his © photos and
text on this site)