From Priory Marina, Bedford to Denver Sluice on our Viking 26 Wide Beam,
Originally the children should have gone to there Grand Parents but
due to unforeseen circumstances came with us.
After fuelling up and filling the water tank we finally set off from
Priory Marina at 10.40 am. Although it was overcast the weatherman promised
sunshine for the afternoon (fingers crossed).
It's only a short 15-minute cruise down river, past Bedford Boat Club
to Cardington lock. This is a challenge as the lock entrance is 90 degrees
to the main river and if the current is running fast and the wind blowing
you can be taken off line very easily.
left the lock and proceeded along a very narrow stretch of the river
that borders the Country Park. The bank side trees are quite dense here
and in places create a tunnel effect. Once under the old railway bridge
the river widens with fields either side.
We had to wait at Castle mill lock for "Dawn Missed", a Viking
32,to exit before we were able to enter.
The next section of river was very pictureres and we saw a community
of log cabins on the hillside. On the approach to Willington lock we
passed by the Danish camp, a riverside restaurant that is very popular
with the cyclists and walkers (Boats are welcome but mooring is difficult
due to the bank side vegetation).
Willington Lock was next and past the old lock before the approach to
Barford Bridge. Due to the low arches most boats use the upstream arch
when going down stream.
Great Barford Lock, then Roxton Lock. The locks from the marina to here
are spaced at about half hour intervals, which keeps the children busy
(under close supervision, of course) and the river traffic quite!
From Roxton lock we go under the Old & New bridges that carry the
A1 over the river and through lovely country side for about an hour
before we reached Eaton Socon Lock .We moored at 16.15 Hours on Lammas
Meadow just the other side of the town and opposite the "Posh Houses"
were im told a West Ham football player and "Gloria" from
"It ant half hot mum" lives.
of day 1
Total Miles = 14.76
Total Locks = 6
After a walk to the local store with my son for papers and milk we departed
for the short trip to St Neots Lock. This has been totally rebuilt over
the last 2 winters .The new gates are so easy to open; my son aged 6
did them on his own (on some of the others locks I struggle!!!).
Offord, Brampton & Godmanchester locks were next . Godmanchester
lock is on the edge of Port Holme Meadow, the largest meadow in Britain
Houghton lock the family left me to get ice creams and to have a quick
look at the old water mill, still in working order and run by the National
Trust. After Hemingford lock we moored at the Dolphin Hotel in St Ives.
We booked a table for dinner and had a very nice carvery.
of day 2
Total Miles = 15.88
Total locks = 6
Only 3 locks to Ely! On leaving our mooring we pasted under St Ives
Bridge, it is one of only three in the country that has a Chapel built
under the bridge and through St Ives lock the river meanders and shortly
after passing "The Pike & Eel" we crossed the meridian
line .We watched the bearing on the GPS and counted down as the long/lat
changed from "W" to "E".
Once through Brownshill Staunch we enter a short Tidal section of river
at Earith. Although 50 miles from the coast the Hundred foot drain,
created to help drain the Fens, brings the tide to here.
Hermitage lock has a lock keeper and she was kind enough to lock us
through before she went to lunch.
We were now on "The Old West" river, no more locks to negotiate
until our return. This is the start of The Fens and high flood banks
border the river. The main point of interest was the Stretham Old Pumping
Engine, and an unloved boat!
about two and a half hours we reached Pope's Corner where the Old West,
River Cam and Great Ouse meet. We turned left up the Great Ouse for
the run in to Ely.
10 minutes from Ely the outboard died! Fortunately it was nothing more
then the petrol running out .I quickly swapped tanks and we were off
again .We had done 53 miles on 25 litres of petrol (40hp 4 stroke running
at 2000 rev).
We moored on the busy Quay at Ely next to "Endeavour" owned
by Ivan, a boat I meet last year moored at the Dolphin .We had a much
awaited beer and chat as my children played with his grandchildren and
my "galley slave" went to find Tesco`s.
of day 3
We spent most of the day exploring parts of Ely. There is the home of
Oliver Cromwell, Ely museum and the Cathedral .I especially enjoyed
the tour of the Octagon tower.
refuelling at the marina for only 95 pence a litre we headed up river
in the late afternoon .Now we were venturing to a part of the river
that we had not been to before. Here the river is higher then the surrounding
land and very straight. We turned on to the River Lark to moor on the
deserted EA mooring for the night. It was absolutely peaceful and quite.
Miles = 4.75
Locks = 0
We re-joined The Ouse for a trip up to Denver. The river here is very
straight and featureless and as mentioned is higher then the surrounding
land, which is below sea level.
reaching Denver we took a walk up to the lock. This lock is also manned
but can only be used at high tide. If you go through you can join the
River Nean and the rest of the waterway system. This was our limit for
this year and after 70.87 miles we started our return journey.
I decided to take a ride up The Wissey. This was a narrow reed lined
river that passes through two lakes that reminded me of the Norfolk
Broads .We didn't go to the end of navigation but went over an aqueduct
to the sluice.
moored for the night at The Ship and had a very enjoyable meal.
6 + 7
The return trip back to Bedford was uneventful .The river was very quite
due to the rain on day 6.
On day 7 we pushed on and got back to the marina at 19.45.
enjoyed the trip and can't wait till I get the time to do the next one,
which I plane to be to the Cam and Wicken Fen.
Total miles = 156.47
Total Locks = 30
thanks to Dave for his kind permssion to include his © photos and
text on this site)