Just How Big Is It?! 28th July

Great Barford GOBA Mooring to Paxton Pits GOBA Mooring


A wind before breakfast to fill up with water on the other bank. Tilly wasn’t impressed by the number of swimmers already in the water, Tilly Too was so upset she had turned her back to it all and was found staring at the curtain! As the tank filled we topped our selves up too with cereal.

The lock being full was handy so we headed straight in. I spotted some interesting stonework just above the lock with C&F 1844 carved into it. Is this from a previous lock here?

Not the teasel I’d seen last time

As I waited for the level to drop in the lock I looked around for the teasel head I’d photographed on our way up, spotting that it had been cut very low down, I suspect it’s in a flower arrangement somewhere.

A fun house to live in

Somewhere along the wiggles to Roxton Lock sits this interesting house. A playground for young and old. A rather large treehouse in the garden, a landing stage and an old branch over the water which has ropes, pallets and all sorts, wonder if it’s suitable to sit on the end and read.

Pulling up at Roxton Lock I could see a chap below on a paddleboard, he paused for a little while and then headed off downstream whilst we sorted the lock out. By the time we got going again he was nowhere in sight. Back under the A1, not too busy today.

Over the four miles between Roxton and Eaton Socon we gradually caught the paddleboarder up, only just over taking him before the GOBA mooring where one of the boats from the festival was moored, washing hung out to dry.

Thankfully the lock was in our favour, so as I lifted the slackers at the bottom end the paddleboarder climbed out, removed the skeg and deflated his board, a noise we have grown accustomed to whilst being at this end of the Great Ouse.

Now to decide where to stop for the day. With only one boat on all the visitor moorings in St Neots we wondered why it was so empty. Maybe it was because of the regatta last weekend. Maybe because there was a fair in town. Maybe it was because boats had just moved off this morning.

We had a quick think, we’d press on, cover more ground today and then hopefully have a few shorter hops between nicer moorings over the next few days giving me more time to work.

Hiding signs

Two cruisers pulled out from Ouse Valley River Club, would there be room in the lock for all three of us? We followed them, then they vanished round a corner to the left. A quick check on our map stopped us from gliding on past the navigable route, the signs just about invisible behind the friendly cover.

Four waiting ahead

At the lock the two cruisers had joined a queue behind a couple of narrowboats, add a canoe into the mix too, it was busy.

On our way upstream we’d wondered if the lock might be wide enough for two narrowboats side by side. The entrance is noted to be 10ft 10″, so not possible to come in together. Inside it is a little bit wider, I reckon maybe as much as 2ft, but this wouldn’t be wide enough for two narrowboats side by side.

long but not very wide

I’d put a photo up on facebook of Oleanna in the lock and a debate had started as to how many boats you could get in the lock. On our Waterway Routes map it gives dimensions as being 10ft 10″ wide by 107ft 11″ long. In our Imray guide book to the Great Ouse the lock is mentioned at being 3.3m wide by 32.9m long. Both agreeing with each other. Then a look on the EA website for lock dimensions had proved confusing and an interesting read as someone had got the conversions between metric and imperial wrong. But which of their figures were the actual correct ones? Imperial or metric?

Data from the EA! Someone needs to return to school!

Every boat entering the lock today took it that the lock wasn’t wide enough for two narrowboats side by side, and that the length was 107ft 11″. The two narrowboats went into the lock, refusing to let the inflatable canoe in with them. The lock was reset for the two cruisers. Their combined length was around 60ft, Oleanna being 58ft 6″, no chance of us sharing with them if we believed the 107ft 11″. As the level lowered we could clearly see that there was enough room for us too, but it was too late to join them.

First two going down

As we refilled the lock Mick paced out the length, 70 of his paces. Oleanna is 26 paces long with fenders down, so call that 60ft. So 60 / 26 = 2.3 ft a pace. So 70 x 2.3 = 161 ft. Not the 177ft 1″ as mentioned on the EA website. Of course our measurements were far from scientific, but we can safely say that we’d have been able to share with the cruisers and still have plenty of room and saving a whole locks worth of water in an area bordering on being in drought.

Loads and loads of room

One of the ladies on the cruisers was celebrating her birthday today and they were heading for a Chinese takeaway on Godmanchester, further than we were planning. The two narrowboats further ahead, we had no idea where they were heading, we kept our fingers crossed that Paxton Pits would have space for us.

Another Unicorn

Thankfully there was a cruiser moored at the far end, leaving enough room for us. We had lunch before we enquired how their dogs were with cats and then letting Tilly out.

Shelves filled with things

The afternoon was filled with one scene from panto, an explorers library, a generator and the cruisers engine running, Tilly went AWOL and Mick rang insurance companies for a quote on house insurance. Quite a productive yet smelly afternoon.

4 locks, 11 miles, 2 winds, 1 full water tank, 5th in line, 3rd lock full, 4.3 miles paddled, 107, 177, or 161? 0 bins, 4.5 hrs work, 1 hour late, 1 new plan, 1 props maker on board, RIP Bernard.