Sock Drains. 30th June

Stretham Old Engine GOBA mooring to Ewell Fen GOBA mooring

Almost to our hatch

Our delivery arrived bang on time this morning, the van pulling up directly above us in the layby. Mick headed up to meet the driver with numerous bags, it took a couple of journeys to get everything down to Oleanna and even longer to get everything stowed on board.

A Pike?

One of the fishermen behind us caught what must have been a pike, reeled it in and then took forever to remove the hook. All we could think was the poor thing. At least once the hook was removed they put it straight back in the water, it took quite a while to catch it’s breath and swim off, hopefully a good distance away so it wouldn’t have to go through the same trauma again.

At the same time a water vole swam across the river and was looking for a place to climb out, sadly it did it’s best to avoid my camera, hiding in the piling recesses.


We pootled past moored boats, one with a unique paint job of vikings and things.

The signs are quite adamant

The moorings at The Lazy Otter have gone. Heard on the grape vine that the current owners had applied for a change of use to a house and no longer a pub, which had been refused. We wondered if anything would happen if it remained a pub in the eyes of the authorities but just simply never opened!

The cottage by Twenty Pence Bridge

Under the A10 and onwards west, the next bridge being Twenty Pence Bridge. How had it come by this name, was it to do with a toll, but it would have been a steep toll? There once had been a ferry here, then a lift bridge, it connected private land to a public road. In 1928 the owners of the land offered to pay 30s an acre towards the cost of making the road a public highway, a through route to the Isle of Ely. By 1931 the new bridge had been built and three steam lorries, two with trailers, representing a weight of sixty tons were used to test it’s strength. People came to view the bridge which now provided a new link between north and south. There are more interesting articles about the area here.

A white egret, some horses, dragonflies and a farmer pumping water from the river to water his crops, no wonder there’s been reports of the Old West being shallow.

Aldreth High Bridge

At the next bridge we met one of just a handful of boats we’d see on the move today. This bridge Aldreth High Bridge was where the Aldreth Causeway crossed the Old West. The first mention of the causeway is in a Pipe Roll of 1172-3 when a payment was made. It was one of three causeways that crossed the fens to Ely, by the late 17th C it was superseded by the route via Stretham. The current bridge was built in 1901 the iron railings made at Eagle Work Foundry in Ely.

Mick noticed on our maps that the drains on the south side of river are called Sock Drains, First, Second, Third and Forth. Are these the only hosiery drains in the fens? Wonder how they got their names, I can’t find anything on the internet about them. If anyone knows please get in touch.

Another good GOBA Mooring

Not far now and the GOBA mooring came into sight, they are obviously popular with the local cows, well trodden hard earth alongside muddy patches. We found a good bit of bank and Mick fought to hammer our spikes in.

Washing was hung out on the whirligig and Tilly was given five hours of shore leave, although the lack of friendly cover meant she kept close to the boat. We had a couple of walks along the flood bank though, Tilly leading the way ahead until I thought we’d gone far enough.

So much dry grass

Various bought items were divided up into portions to be frozen for later and my wild strawberry plants got some attention. Dead bits of plant removed and numerous babies sorted, some were planted in a new trough, the weaker ones left on the bank. If it wasn’t so dry right now they might take hold and become a treat for boaters in years to come.

0 locks, 6.7 miles, 2 boxes wine, 1 free loaf bread, 2 free pork loins, 4 hard nectarines, 2 Chris’s, 1 sorting of finances, 0 handed out, 3 lots of strawberries, 2 Tilly walks, 1 set of fresh bed linen.