In Time For The 15:45. 8th May

Fotheringhay Castle to Wansford Station

Waking up in the shadow of a castle isn’t a thing we do frequently, Newark is the only other place we can think of. Windsor is too far away as is Beeston Castle. Fotheringhay made for a good view this morning, sheep now grazing where Tilly had explored last night.

Oor morning view

As we had breakfast a group of people sat on the top of the mound, their three dogs following the trails around it of Tilly’s scent.

The church dominates the sky line for miles

What a glorious day, one for sun cream, maybe I’ll be swapping our wardrobes from winter to summer soon. But then again it may just snow next week! Pulling away we decided that this might be a good place to meet up with the London Leckenbys on our return. If they could get one of the river side pitches and us a mooring alongside that would be ideal for a weekend. Behind us for quite some miles the tower of St Mary and All Saints remained in view, I’m looking forward to have a look round it in a couple of months time.

Calm before the stampede

At Warmington Lock we had great views all around, the sheep in the field next to us were very friendly, coming up to the fence to watch we were doing things right. As Mick brought Oleanna into the lock there was a sudden stampede from the far side of the field. Were the Mums and lambs being rounded up by the farmer?

It soon became very obvious that there was a dog in the field, but not a sheep dog. As two small dogs sprinted across the field I could see a chap running towards a gate from the next field, the dogs already way ahead! We watched, nothing we could do, only hope that the sheep could manage to get away before any harm was done.

Thankfully the sheep slowed down and the two dogs could be seen returning to their owner, one was picked up the other carried on to the other people before being put back on a lead. The path they followed came past the lock, through two gates. All three dogs were now on leads, but their owners didn’t seem to have the ability to close gates behind them! So much for the Countryside Code and keeping their dogs under control!

Mick walking back to get Oleanna

The route to Elton Lock is a little convoluted from the lock landing due to the route the weirs take. Once Oleanna was all tied up Mick came to help. Boats above polished their brasses in the shade of some trees whilst a Dad pumped up a paddleboard below ready to take his little lad for a ride.

Today the sky was filled with sky divers. Planes were taking off and dropping people way up high. As one group neared the ground another could be seen as tiny specks pulling their parachute cords. The views up there must have been amazing today.

Above Yarwell Lock we made use of the water point to top up. The pressure was good so after fifteen or so minutes we went to set the lock, just as we opened the top gates Oleanna’s water tank started to over flow, perfect timing.

A new looking executive estate sits around a basin. Inside I spied a dusty looking narrowboat. Most of the houses facing the river were making the most of their views with two story windows, views from the master bedrooms.

We managed to keep our distance despite the flow of the river

Soon we were following a couple in an inflatable canoe. They had no idea that there was 20 tonnes of boat gradually getting closer to them, Oleanna just about in tick over. They dabbled their paddles in the water occasionally, pointing things out. If the next lock hadn’t been round the corner we’d have given them a ‘Bip’ on the horn. We managed to stay at a safe distance but the wise words we’d been given before doing the Tideway cruise last year came to mind, ‘Keep looking behind you’.

At last they pull away

The lock landing was full, two cruiser having just come up. We were spotted and stared at. Eventually the penny dropped that we might be wanting to use the lock and not just tread water for an hour or so admiring the view with nowhere to moor up! The crew dithered. ‘YES’ we did want the lock. The control cabinet was closed, the guillotine left down, one lady went to lift a paddle to fill the lock but changed her mind. What they actually needed to do was get back on their boats and move out of the way. This all took time as there had to be a discussion as they climbed back on board, but in the end they finally moved off. Good job the lady hadn’t lifted a paddle as the bottom gate hadn’t been closed fully, easily solved and the gate being almost down did save a lot of finger ache.

A swans nest full of eggs

Now the river winds it’s way towards Wansford where the Great North Road crosses. First the original bridge, Old North Road Bridge, most of what is seen today was built in the 1600s but had improvement works done through the centuries, the main arch has a date stone of 1795. Just before the bridge are wonderful buildings, a coaching house from when this was the main north south route.

Old North Road Bridge

In 1929 the Great North Road moved to a new bypass with a bridge to the east. This bridge boasts that it spans into two counties and halfway across still sits the boundary post, even though the boundary changed in 1965, the two counties becoming one.

1929 bridge in the back ground, 1975 foreground

Increasing traffic necessitated a second bypass in 1975 running parallel to the first, this became the southbound carriageway the 1929 bridge the northbound.

Model railway where the scales have gone a little awry

The river now heads back southwards, we had our fingers crossed that there would be space on the EA mooring at Wansford Station. As we came under the railway bridge we managed to join a hire boat already moored up, mooring with our centre and stern lines was the way forward, adding another rope from one of the fender eyes to hold the bow closer to the pontoon, the flow of water wanting to push this out.

We timed that right!

We settled down for a late lunch and had a look at the time table for the Nene Valley Railway. Currently trains only run on Saturdays and Sundays, the last one due back into the station at 15:45, twenty minutes time. When we heard the bell ring we made sure we were outside ready to see the engine coming back across the bridge into the station. Very well timed, 34081, 92 Squadron pulled the carriages in to the station.

We had a wander about later, the station closed, but enough for us to see. A check on the website for our return, we won’t be joining the whiskey train £100 for two, anyhow I’m not in the slightest bit partial to whiskey. Even a fish and chip trip would cost us a touch too much, maybe we’ll just save up for an All Day Railcar Rover at £12 a head.

Glad he got the right door

4 locks, 9.19 miles, 2 dogs not in control, 1 field of worried sheep, 2 dithering ladies, 2 too relaxed canoeists, 3 bridges, 1 great road, 0 shore leave, 1 boat just in time, 1 Sunday roast chicken.

2 thoughts on “In Time For The 15:45. 8th May

  1. Adam

    You get another chance to ride the train if you moor in the lake at Ferry Meadows. There’s a station a short walk from the moorings.

    Enjoying reading your Nene journey, and remembering when we did it a couple of years ago.

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thanks Adam. We’re going to try to time our return journey with days the trains run.

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