Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Goodbye River Great Ouse

On Monday we left the Great Ouse via Denver Sluice.  It was a strange sensation going UP in the lock to join the higher tidal waters on the other side of the lock gate.  We shared the lock with another narrowboat called "Shropshire Lass".  The skipper and his wife (in a wheelchair) had gone to the Ouse last year to over-winter and ended up staying longer than originally anticipated!
A first for us:-  when we got into the lock chamber at Salter's Lode we had to sit and wait for an hour and a half with the tidal gates open waiting for the tide to level itself with the water in Well Creek of the Middle Levels.  "Shropshire Lass" waited behind us.

It was quite a tedious journey from there to Upwell because the water was shallow and we were dragging the bottom all the way.  In addition the weather was wet and miserable!  The weather has been no better today!
We intended going as far as Floods Ferry but, when we arrived, the limited amount of mooring space was already occupied so we 'soldiered' on another couple of hours in the wind and rain to Whittlesey.
It actually came as no surprise to find that the limited amount of mooring there was also occupied so, for the first time in our boating lives, we have broken the rules!
Another first:  We are moored on the lock landing stage - if we hadn't stopped there we would have been moving in the dark and that's against the bylaws!

There seems to be a general consensus amongst boaters that the Middle Levels are boring and you need to get through them as quickly as possible.  As long as you don't tackle too much in one go I don't think they're boring - I think they have a special grandeur all of their own.  What is amazingly frustrating, however, is that you are forced to do them quickly because there is just no where to stop!!  Because of this, today has not been a good day.

SO:- The Great Ouse?  My Final Assessment :- (bearing in mind that I really like rivers!)

  • A lovely river.  As lovely as the Thames but no-where near as busy.
  • Lovely riverside towns and villages.
  • Lots of access to nature reserves and good walks for the dogs.
  • Good opportunities for seeing wildlife.  Kingfishers abound!
  • Beautiful clean, deep water teeming with fish.
  • Facilities just about adequate.  Sufficient moorings for the limited number of boats.  LOTS of marinas and boat clubs full of cruisers - if they all came onto the river together, the infra-structure would not be able to cope and  it would be chaos!  Finding water taps and somewhere to get rid of rubbish was a challenge.
  • I'm sure we will regret not going down the Cam into Cambridge or the Relief Channel to Downham Market - gives an added reason to return?
  • For me - worth all the effort of getting there!
Tomorrow?  Happy birthday to me!  I would like the sun to shine just a little!

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday to you indeed!
    And the sun is shining, at least it is here!!!
    Mick is looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, watch out for a picture of him at his 60's day at school today!!