14ft! 15th July

Priory Centre, St Neots to Barford Old Mills

The original plan had been to leave at 9am, but that didn’t quite happen as Mick had decided to purchase an electric fan from Argos which wouldn’t open til 9. It had been ordered so he went to be first in line at the front door to pick it up.

We were slightly disappointed, yet not surprised at the size of fan. We’d have difficulty finding somewhere to put it after all if the description had been correct! It was 14inches not 14ft! Yes it will use power, but may just help move air about to help cool us in the coming days.

Tilly’s pooh box had a clean out as we topped up the water tank, best to leave with a full water tank. As we made ready to push off Paul stuck his head out of their hatch to say goodbye, we suspect our paths will cross another time somewhere.

Across the way the Macc boys were discussing things, would everyone be trying to find some shade on the river. We hoped for their sakes they were, but also hoped that the mooring we were after would be free by the time we arrived.

A good length mooring

An old riverside house has been having quite an extensive refurb along with an big extension. With 1.5 acres and a mooring long enough for a narrowboat no wonder it’s £2,250,000!

Oleanna waiting with Eaton Socon Mill behind

Eaton Socon Lock was soon in view. There was movement at the lock, a day boat having just been helped up the lock. We set the lock to out favour, a sign by the control panel saying that there is an intermittent fault where the delay timer trips the guillotine. Thankfully it behaved for me and we were soon up, after the 6mins 30secs delay that is inbuilt.

Tucked into the D

Above the lock we pulled in at the EA mooring, the bank decidedly awkward to moor to. We managed to get the stern close enough to the bank for our needs and headed to the big Tescos 3/4mile away.

Stocked up for the next week

A big stock up required the bike to be a sherpa. The ability to cook outdoors a necessity and other meals to require the minimum amount of gas usage. We came back with the bike fully laden.

Cambozola and beetroot humous, yum

Time for lunch on the go, with the next mooring at Great Barford we had another two locks and six and a half miles to go, we needed to keep moving. The river started to remind us of the upper reaches of the Thames, narrower, more bends to keep you on your toes. A keen eye required to spot those in canoes or on paddle boards who are oblivious to our existence.

Under one lane of the A1

Under the A1 where it splits in two. How many times have we been over the river here and not realised it was the Great Ouse below? We’ve also been thinking about that as we’ve seen trains rushing past on the East Coast Main Line recently.

Slackers at both ends

At Roxton Lock we came across our first totally manual lock for ages. The gates were heavy, or is it just that I’m not so used to opening and closing gates as I used to be.

A Kingfisher darted in front of us, managing to stay for a while on a post, my zoom only just managing to catch it before it flew off.

Look at that tail

This was then followed by a Little Egret, I’d never noticed how fluffy frondy their tails are before.

Another slackers at both ends lock

At Great Barford Lock the wild flowers were past their best, but the teasels still had enough purple flowers to keep the bees occupied.


Above the lock was busy, swimmers getting ready for a dip, canoes, paddle boarders. Here there are two lots of moorings, the GOBA one’s we might have been able to squeeze into between two boats, or outside the pub where there was plenty of space but also it was more than likely to get really quite busy.

The many arches of Barford Bridge

We carried on though hoping that the EA mooring tucked behind on an island would be free. Thankfully it was apart from a small rib tied up in the middle. We tried here and there to moor, the bank not very even and the water shallow. As soon as we started to hit a spike in a very muddy dog came rushing round to see what was going on. It was soon followed by it’s owner who kindly moved his rib round the bend.

Sheets cut and ready

Eventually we found a spot where we could get off at the bow with ease and just close enough for the plank at the stern. As the cloud cleared away we could see what the afternoon shade would be like, not as comprehensive as we’d hoped, but at least there was some. We’ll get shade first thing, then the port side will heat up followed by a couple of hours of the starboard side. Our sheets would be needed, they were cut in half and folded up ready for a trial run tomorrow.

Isn’t nature amazing!

I tried out a new recipe for a mushroom biryani tonight, it didn’t turn out quite like the recipe had suggested, I suspect my pan lid was a touch too tight as it ended up being a bit soupy, never mind it was still very tasty so I’ll try it again with a looser lid or less liquid, adding some chicken too would be nice.

3 locks, 8.54 miles, 14” new fan, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 1 fully laden bike, 3 boxes wine, 2 boxes Tilly food! 1 island mooring, 1 bridge should we want to leave, 3 sheets cut to size, 800ml reduce to 600ml, 1 very boisterous woofer that we hope will leave the island.