Goodbye Great Ouse. 15th August

River Wissey GOBA mooring to Salters Lode, Middle Level


Still with water to get we were on our way quite early. We knew there was little chance of being able to wind before we reached Hilgay, we’d tried a couple of months ago and now with the levels lower and more reed growth there wasn’t even any point in trying. A dog stuck it’s nose out from the stern of the narrowboat nestled into the bank as it’s owner yawned as we passed.

It was a little bit tight turning by the water point rather than heading a bit further on to the official winding hole, but Mick managed in the end and we were soon moored up by the water point, filling up and having breakfast.

No Longer Hilgay Bridge

A new blue plaque on the bridge shows off it’s new name and a chap walked back and forth watering the flowers.

Black dots of birds

Back to the junction with the Great Ouse where we turned right, time to head to Denver for our crossing at midday. The birds are starting to gather overhead, readying themselves to head for warmer climes!

It’s falling in the water!

The two long stretches of EA moorings are still fenced off as you approach Denver. Today the notice regarding Littleport Station Road EA mooring dated January 2021 was rescinded and the mooring we’d been staying on recently is now officially open again. It sounds like piling work was carried out there and it looks like something similar will need to happen at Denver to get the banks stable again.

Last photo on the Great Ouse

Denver Sluice came into view, we pulled up alongside NB Poppy May to make sure we were all ready for our tidal crossing. The anchor has been attached and ready to be deployed for months now, the well deck just needed a bit of a tidy up, excess items put into the shower. Then we waited and chatted with Angus and Julie (I think) from Poppy May.

Waiting for the tide at Denver

A few years ago they had brought their boat onto the Great Ouse, now they were heading back towards C&RT waters, so this would be the first time for both of us heading downstream with the tide to Salters Lode.

The Lock Keeper arrived and started to empty the lock, he came for a chat. He would lock us both through at the same time, no need to worry about sand banks lurking under the surface. We were to lead the way with NB Poppy May following a short distance behind. One boat would be heading towards us. We would head straight into the lock and Poppy May should turn in towards the lock and wait by the guillotine gate for their turn. At 62ft long they were on the border of requiring the river to be on the same level as Well Creek.

Heading into the lock

The gate opened and as we went into the lock we turned and said our farewell to the Great Ouse. We arrived on the 20th May and now twelve and a half weeks later we were leaving.

Waiting for the gate to rise

A cautionary tale of ropes and loops and locks was told to Julie who then proceeded to pull her rope all the way through the big riser at the bow. The bottom guillotine gate was lifted just a bit and cloudy silty water started to swirl around the bows of the boats. We were going up several feet onto the out going tide.

Thumbs up, we were on our way to cross the half mile of tide, the ebb pulling us out towards Kings Lynn. I stayed at the bow knowing a rope may come in handy at Salters Lode. Up ahead we could already see the boat heading for Denver, we passed and carried on down stream.

There’s the lock!

There were a few houses on the west bank, one with quite a lot of washing out. Was this where the lock was? Or was it just that bit further on round the next bend near the next house? A chap sat on a chair watching us approach. I shouted back to Mick that this was the lock. ‘Are you sure?’ Fairly. As the chap stood up from his chair I could now see the LOCK sign, but I checked anyway. ‘Yep this is it’. Just in time for Mick to start to make the turn. With the tide going out we’d been told to head straight for the lock and not to turn to face the out going tide as we’d end up dragging along the tyre wall.

Breath in!

The approach to the lock is narrow with a wooden fence helping to guide you in. Mick turned, a blast of bow thruster to avoid the starboard side from hitting the bank and into the lock we shot. Full power to stern! We’d not touched the side. Phew!

Mick chatting to Paul the Lock Keeper

At the bow it had seemed a lot calmer than our first ever turn in at Selby, but I believe the atmosphere was a touch more at the stern.

Oleanna happy as always

Now we dropped down on to Well Creek. A quick discussion as to where to aim for today. The moorings on the Middle Level tend to be 36hours, not helpful for having a full day to work for me. The next couple of places we’d be stopping at will not be cat friendly either, so we decided to stay put and moored up on the landing a short distance away from the lock.

Moored at Salters Lode

Tilly got to have a good explore round. She wasn’t that impressed, less so with the pontoon surface. Every step had to be checked twice, then the gathering swallows swooped down on her, angry at her existence.

Template for my model with a stretching cat

Work came out and I concentrated on my painted ironwork for the portals. Part way through the afternoon however my right hand started to ache a lot. Yesterday when we’d pulled up on the Wissey I’d done something to my hand whilst moving a fender. It had been painful for a little while but eased off. Today it warranted some pain killers and an early stop to work, not something I’ll be able to do every day.

I’m going to end up like a waffle if I lie on here too long!

As we watched the TV this evening Tilly decided that she’d head out again for a twilight check of the surroundings. Thankfully today the one way door returned to being one way. We did our best not to laugh out loud as Tilly crashed into the glazing and slid down onto the floor. Not deterred she tried again, clinging on with her claws for a while before giving up and heading into the bathroom to check on the new doorway there. Of course this was also glazed!

2 locks, 5.24 miles, 0.5 miles tidal, 2 rivers, 1 creek, 1 right, 1 left, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing, 1 holey outside, 2 many birdies, 2 portals closed, 1 farewell to the Great Ouse, 1 left handed mouse.