Such An Itch! 4th May

White Mills Marina to Water Ski Lake FOTRN, Ditchford

Whilst we had breakfast there was a clunk from the electrics cupboard, we’d run out of our £2 electric. Mick had popped the boiler on which can run off electric when we’re hooked up, so the boat was warm and there was enough hot water for a shower first thing. We topped up with water and then headed to pay.


Sadly they didn’t have a copy of the Pearsons Guide to the Nene that we’d like, we’ll keep trying. But there was a helpful chap in the office who sorted out our Friends of the River Nene Membership. Just over a week ago Mick had filled out the form and sent payment, he’d also done this for the Great Ouse Boating Association. On his visit to the house he’d picked up a big envelope from GOBA but nothing from FOTRN. The chap in the office gave us a membership card, a sticker for the window and noted that we’d already paid, he’d pass the details on to the membership secretary who happens to live at the marina. We’d now be able to use the FOTRN moorings without any hassle.

Good to meet you

Mick got chatting to Steve from NB Albert, turns out that this is the Albert who appears on our blog roll! Both boats were preparing to leave, as they had already untied we let them go first. But the tight turns in the marina meant we were in Alberts way, so we ended up leaving first to encounter the even tighter turn out of the marina.

A Finesse boat

As we left we thought we recognised a widebeam near the entrance. We were right it was Northern Spirit the Finesse boat that won Best Widebeam at Crick Boat Show in 2019.

Back to fingers on buttons today working the locks. At Earls Barton Lock a horse came to check out our ropes but decided it just needed a damn good scratch, she had such an itch!

At Doddington Lock the landing was really quite short necessitating being dropped from the bow of Oleanna. Then I only lifted one paddle but to equalise the lock it needed the other side lifting too, so a walk all the way round (no walkway on top gates) was needed. When it came to pushing the buttons to empty it there was a delay, the guillotine lifted a very small amount, water started to drain slowly. After two minutes the green light came on enabling me to lift the gate right up, but would it budge? No!

I dropped the gate again and started from the beginning. Making sure I applied pressure to the raise gate button until the red light came on it worked, lifting the gate higher and draining the lock properly this time. Then I was able to lift the gate without any problem. Laura Doddington did get the blame!

We passed fields of sheep, Terns telling us which way to turn all very rural, just a shame the sun wasn’t out.

Whitworths Flour Mill

The locks either side of Wellingborough are both manual, no guillotine gates to deal with here. Then we were into Wellingborough. Eight years ago we paused here to fill the water tank on Lillyanne, we remembered it for the number of swans, the noise from Whitworths Mill and a playground. Today we stopped for lunch then Mick headed across to Tescos to pick up a prescription and top up supplies to keep us going into next week.

Swans swans everywhere

Other than our stop on Lillyanne I had been to Wellingborough in 1998 with my first ever show for Hull Truck. I had been given to John Godber to design Perfect Pitch for the SJT in Scarborough, he then asked me to redesign the show for a tour with Hull Truck which was to start in Wellingborough. Myself and Graham (Production Manager) had been put up in a B&B somewhere in the town. After our first night there Graham asked me to return later in the morning and collect our bags as we wouldn’t be staying there another night using an excuse that we’d been called back to Hull. The rooms were dirty and sleep wasn’t on the cards due to the noise. The next night we stayed at a different hotel, which we just about had to break into as our front door keys didn’t work. I had an ensuite room with a large pile of tiles sat in the corner, DIY bathroom decor! Such were the times of Hull Truck accommodation. The show went well despite a Deputy Stage Manager leaving a vital prop hidden behind a door back in Hull, she also managed to knock back everyones Irish Creams after a curry on the first night! She never worked for Hull Truck again.

Torrential rain caught Mick on his return to Oleanna, but thankfully it soon passed and we could continue to find a more peaceful mooring for the night.

Quite a grand looking house dominated the hill to the south of the river, then through the next bridge a new looking pontoon showed itself. This wasn’t on any of our maps or guides, but I had come across a second mooring listed for Ditchford on a website earlier, was this the one? No signs of duration of stay, standard EA signage though. Mick read out the name Chester House Estate. A closer look later on shows Chester House Estate to be worth a visit on our return. They host a seriously large collection of archaeological finds and boasts being one of few places in the country which can demonstrate over 10,000 years of human activity. Purchased in 2004 by Northamptonshire Council the site has been developed into a visitor destination. You can visit to look at the history, get married, enjoy a vintage market, or walk in the grounds. Definitely one for the way back, if we can get moored!

We continued onwards to see if we could get in at the next FOTRN mooring. We rounded a bend and there it was empty and waiting for us. A little shallow for us, but we got tied up. It was quite late so Tilly was given an extension to curfew. She and I had a good walk round, well I walked Tilly skipped with her tail held high. Well this is a great outside! We’ll be staying put here for sometime!

A quiet mooring today

When shore leave was over I did wonder if I’d have difficulty getting our crew back on board. A couple of calls from the stern then I could see Tilly springing out from the friendly cover to a patch of mown grass which she skipped along back to the boat. A very nice mooring with only one jet ski on the lake this evening.

One very happy cat

6 locks, 6.28 miles, 1 membership card, 4 moving boats all day, 2 boxes wine, 1 downpour, 136 swans,1 swans egg, 1st FOTRN mooring, 0 dogs, 0 walkers, 1 jet ski a mile away, 1 tail held high, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.