Category Archives: Lodes

2022 Back To Exploring

Time for the annual round, a long post so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

The New Year kicked off with winter maintenance in the house. Having two hallways proved time consuming refreshing the woodwork and patching up the worst of the wallpaper. But this was broken up with weekly walks to see the sea. I resumed work on the development showing of #unit21 for Dark Horse and a Christmas present of a cheese making kit proved very tasty in creating my first ever Yorkshire Curd Cheese Cake from scratch. I plan on having a second go at this soon!

In February work progressed in Huddersfield towards opening night, the floor painted, final costume fittings and then the set and lighting added. All while Mick serviced our life jackets and Tilly grew more and more bored of life in the house.

Once the show was opened we had a trip down to London to catch up with the London Leckenbys for a belated Christmas, on our way back we visited Oleanna. When ever we could we visited Blue Water Marina to do jobs and have a pack up lunch. The stove was reblacked, walls washed down and cupboards sorted through.

Then at the end of February, Mick and I left Tilly in charge of the house, we packed enough clothes and food for a couple of days boating and headed to Thorne to move Oleanna through Thorne Lock before a winter stoppage began. Blimey it was chilly out there, but wonderful to be back afloat and moving Oleanna to Goole. Now we were all set to move back onboard and have a few weeks of pootling about in Yorkshire.

Back at the house we made it ready for the first of this years lodgers. Our boat Christmas tree was retired into the back garden where we hoped it would thrive, this of course was before we knew a drought was on it’s way! Tilly said goodbye to the dragon that lives up the chimney, left Seville and Valencia to look after the house before having to endure the car trip back to boat life.

After a few days sorting ourselves, including having one of Joan’s gluten free Chinese takeaways, we unplugged Oleanna and backed out from our mooring at Goole Marina (Boat House). We spent the next three weeks bobbing about between Pollington Lock, Doncaster and Goole. Maintenance jobs were ticked off the list.

Alistair did engine and weedhatch jobs, Frank joined us a couple of times to do carpentry jobs, our galley drawers no longer have a life of their own, the covers had a good scrub and a spray of Wet and Forget to help them keep clean.

In March I’d set myself a charity challenge, to knit as many pairs of socks in the month as I could. Nine pairs knitted for people in return for sponsorship, I also got a very generous donation of yarn from Lisa on NB Summer Wind.

Our plans had had to change as Thorne Lock still hadn’t closed, but was about to! Plans to visit York and West Yorkshire were abandoned, we’d bought ourselves a Gold Licence for the year so wanted to make the most of it. So on March 24th with all the jobs done we turned our backs on Goole and set off into the sunset to see where 2022 would take us, all three of us grinning from ear to ear.

We made our way to Keadby ready for our booked passage on the tidal River Trent, the fast route south. A phone call from a boating friend in need of support meant we’d be doing our best to make use of the spring tide to reach Cromwell in one go despite the weather forecast. We spent a couple of days doing what we could to help in Newark before we needed to be on the move again.

On upstream to The Trent and Mersey keeping up our cruising hours and Tilly hoping we’d stop with enough time for her to explore each day before cat curfew.

Up to Fradley then onto the Coventry Canal, we played leapfrog with NB Free Spirit for a couple of days.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Curdworth Flight then a turn left onto a section of the Grand Union we’d not been on before at Star City. Up Garrison Locks, Typhoo Basin and then the Ashted Locks where we now have the measure of that Tunnel! A mooring space at the top of Farmers Bridge had our name on it. This was handy for a road trip to swap lodgers and for visits to the dentist. It also meant we were in shot when a group came to jump the top lock!

Fast forward to 6:15

Our route out of Bumingham saw us through Edgbaston Tunnel, down Lapworth followed by Hatton. A pause was needed for Tilly’s annual visit to a new vet, the one here the closest to the canal we’ve visited so far, also handy for The Cape of Good Hope!

At Napton we joined the Oxford Canal and headed for Braunston, pausing to stock up on goodies from the butcher. On the Grand Union we made our way up over the hill and started our descent down The Long Buckby flight back towards tidal waters.

On the 1st of May we turned left at Gayton Junction onto the Northampton Arm dropping down the flight to the River Nene. We’d only been this way once before and that was when we’d just bought Lillian (NB Lillyanne) back in 2014. We bought ourselves a second Abloy key, showed our Gold Licence to the chap at Northampton Marina and started our journey down stream, time to explore.

A decision was made to head down to Peterborough taking note of places we’d want to visit on our return journey. We worked our way through the guillotine locks, many button operated and others with the wheel of cardiovascular overload.

Tilly loved many of the moorings apart from those in Peterborough where crowds surrounded the boat and meant returning from shore leave was impossible for several hours.

In two weeks we reached the end of the river at the Dog in a Doublet Lock. Here the river becomes tidal, we’d save that trip for another time and turned back upstream to head for the Middle Level.

Here we wanted to explore all the drainage channels, but decided we’d do that on our return too. So we took the direct route and crossed the low lying waters in three days arriving at Salters Lode on Mick’s birthday. The levels out on the tidal stretch of the Great Ouse needing to be just right to get through the lock, turn and head upstream to Denver Sluice.

A lovely GOBA mooring was found on the River Wissey and eventually the sun came out for a birthday barbeque, we’d made it to the Great Ouse.

The remainder of May was spent exploring the River Wissey, Ely and The Little Ouse. Brandon Lock sits at the most easterly point on the connected navigable network for boats Oleanna’s size. Sadly a build up of silt stopped us from getting her bow into the lock, but we did get her as far east as was possible, ticking off the fourth point of the compass.

There was a trip to Hull Truck to meet old friends at a gala evening followed by a meet up with Micks family back in the Fens. At the end of the month we got to know Neil the seal at Ten Mile Bank moorings as he basked in the sun and took sunset dips in the river.

The Jubilee was seen in at Denver, we lit our guiding lights as a Lancaster Bomber flew overhead heading to see the Queen. The Relief Channel gave us a good mooring to be able to have a trip away to celebrate Dawn and Lee’s 50th Birthdays in Scarborough, we went as Wallace and Gromit and won an Oscar!

Another visit to Ely to see the Cathedral, Farmers market and meet up with Heather from NB Bleasdale, the first of many this summer. The River Lark was explored, the end of navigation reached with a handy mooring outside a pub.

We headed for the Cam, our paths crossing for the first time with Ken and Sue from NB Cleddau. Then onwards in to Cambridge where we visited colleges, ate chilled medication and had a day trip to Duxford so that Mick could sit in the pilots seat of a Trident 2, a seat his Dad had sat in on many a flight.

Oleanna squeezed along each of the three Lodes, Wicken, Burwell and Reach. Wicken Lode a magical place and a day visit to Anglesey Abbey with it’s wonderful gardens.

Then we headed onto the Old West a river with a very different feel than the Ely Ouse. A pause was needed when we reached Earith for us to have a tour of Heathers new to her boat GT. Once off the tidal water we were on a different Great Ouse again. Here St Ives, St Neots and Hemingford gave us sunsets, D shaped locks, huge meadows and wonderful towns and villages to explore.

As the temperatures started to rise I needed to do some work. Cruising happened in the mornings, my Panto script and sketches were done in the shade of what trees we could find. White sheets were bought and we hoped for a mooring with shade for the really hot days that were to come. Tilly took to lying on the floor and we took to wearing wet t-shirts to help us to keep cool. Thankfully the hot blast only lasted a couple of days then the temperature dropped and we could continue to head upstream.

July 21st we reached the navigable limit of the River Great Ouse, having to reverse some distance to be able to turn round and return to Bedford for the River Festival.

Here we met up with Ken and Sue, Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice and Heather again. Plenty of things to see, do and hear. The boat parades, raft races, vintage cars, all sorts kept us busy for the two days.

Now at the end of July we alternated the days between cruising and my work. More beautiful days cruising and more wonderful sunsets, one day off to visit Cambridge for some more chilled medication and to see the Hockney exhibition.

August saw more hot days. Trips to London to celebrate birthdays, panto meetings, catch up with best friends and travellers over from Australia.

On the 15th August we crossed back from Denver Sluice to the Middle Level having really enjoyed our three months on the Great Ouse. Now water levels were a worry along with having enough time to reach Oxford for me to go to work in October. We made the decision to come back and explore the Middle Level another year, maybe we’ll cross The Wash to get there!

By the end of August our progress up stream on the River Nene slowed to a halt. First one lock broke then another two ahead of us. We’d recently been accepted to join the Reflections Flotilla on the Thames to mark the Queens Jubilee in a few weeks time, now that time was ticking away.

When we did get moving again we had to make up our cruising hours. With the news of the passing of the Queen we didn’t know if the flotilla would still be going ahead, we carried on at pace waiting for news. Back up the River Nene, turning onto the Grand Union, working our way southwards. The news came through that the flotilla would go ahead, but now in remembrance of the Queen.

With a couple of days to spare we squeezed into the Eco-Moorings by Islington Tunnel. Two days of catching up with family and more friends over from Australia before we joined boats heading along the Regents Canal towards Limehouse Basin. An afternoon of activity saw numerous narrowboats festooned with white lights.

On the 24th of September the Thames barrier was closed and we all headed out of Limehouse Lock up stream to Chelsea where we clung onto buoys until the early evening when the flotilla started to muster.

Getting on for 150 boats all displaying white lights got into formation and headed down stream. Crowds stood on the illuminated bridges and Tower Bridge opened up in a royal salute as we passed underneath. What a truly amazing day.

Now we had to head towards Banbury, back round the Regents Canal as a leak in the engine bay needed testing on the calm waters of the canal rather than the tideway. By the time we reached Brentford we were confident with Oleanna’s engine again. On the Thames Tilly got a birthday present of a night on a Cliveden Island. Sadly we got an unexpected present on our arrival in Oxford, a second red line on a covid test! Panto painting couldn’t be put off so we made our way gradually up the Oxford Canal keeping our distance from people at locks and taking maximum doses of paracetamol.

A week of painting in Banbury before I moved to Chipping Norton to stack up the hours over the next four weeks getting the 50th anniversary panto ready. Rendez Vousing with Oleanna at weekends in Banbury and Coventry kept me sane. Mick had to single hand across the summit of the Oxford Canal to avoid the first of the winter stoppages.

All three of us were back onboard by mid November, covid free and vaccinated. We took things slowly now, time to rest up, meet friends, gather family and pootle towards Christmas. Our 20th Anniversary was celebrated with a Chinese takeaway at Alvecote Marina, a planned stop which ended up being extended due to plummeting temperatures. The canal froze, there’d be no moving the outside for Tilly!

Temperatures lifted dramatically and the ice just about vanished in a couple of days, we could now be on our way to Christmas. Alrewas was a good place to spend the festive days, a very good butchers and a village with lots of character and humour.

Bookings in the New Year had been made for passage on the tidal River Trent for us to reach Yorkshire, but this would not be. The Trent had risen before Christmas, Cranfleet Flood Gates were shut ahead of us, so no New Year at Hazelford Lock. Instead our alternator played up and we sought out a mooring to hook up to and see in 2023.

This year we’d been wanting to explore again. This year we cruised miles of new water, made new friends, got too hot, got iced in, got stuck, got to be in the first illuminated flotilla on the Thames for 300 years. What a great year it has been.

So our vital statistics for 2022 according to Canalplan are

Total distance is 1249 miles, 6½ furlong and 555 locks . There were 88 moveable bridges of which 29 are usually left open; 156 small aqueducts or underbridges and 18 tunnels,  a total of 7 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 227 miles, 1 1/2 furlongs of narrow canals; 363 miles, 2 furlongs of broad canals; 85 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 269 miles, 1 furlong of small rivers; 234 miles, 7 1/4 furlongs of large rivers; 69 miles, 6 furlongs of tidal rivers; 176 narrow locks; 232 broad locks; 54 large locks; 2 locks on major waterways.

731.7 engine hours

1156.1 litres diesel, 5 (although we’ve got 1 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 28.5 litres oil, 3 oil filters, 1 fuel filter, 2 air filters, 1 water pump, 2 new belts, 690kg coal, 1 overnight guest twice, 6 packs Dreamies (not enough!), 56 friends, a record breaking 41 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval (4 in one day!), 15 pairs socks, 2 shows designed, 9 lodgers, 2 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 30 boxes of wine delivered, 2 lost unicorns.

Thank you all for joining us on our journey. Wonder where we’ll get to in 2023?

14 Days Anywhere! 29th June

Burlow Lode EA Mooring to Stretham Old Engine GOBA Mooring, Old West River

Time to do some boating again and leave the Loades behind.


What a grey morning! The waterproofs were at the ready. After a long chat with the fishermen who’d set up behind us about the National Trust wanting to flood the land, how bad the fishing was and how much the house across the way was on the market for (£1,050,000, it comes with a building plot with planning permission), we were ready to push off.

Slow going again until the way ahead got wider, followed by the Terns again.


Is this a hovercraft sat in the field?

Labradors at the ready

At the two bridges there were several dog walkers, one lady on one side of the water another two opposite, they were waiting for us to pass before getting their dogs to swim across to each other. The dogs were being very patient and loving it at the same time.

Looking up Wicken Lode

NB Ivy May turned out from Wicken Lode a short distance in front of us, they’d had two days moored at the end and really enjoyed it. Today there was space on the EA mooring despite some overstayers, but who knows their circumstances.

Following NB Ivy May

A boat was moored in the middle of the lock landing which is also a water point. NB Ivy May just about managed to get in front of them and we did our best to squeeze in behind, but had to stick out across the cut as we were about four foot too long for the gap. Our next water point wouldn’t be until Friday, a load of washing had just finished, so we needed to fill the tank. NB Ivy May disposed of rubbish and then made their way through the lock whilst we filled with water. Eventually the boat in the middle moved up after Mick had suggested that the owner may believe he can moor anywhere for 14 days even water points, but that it was very selfish to other boaters requiring to use the services. He didn’t have a hose and was going to fill up using jerry cans, I also suspect he didn’t have a key either as he looked a touch perturbed when he returned to see the water point closed and us heading off into the lock.

The water point above the lock

By the time we reached the lock it had reset itself. The top gate almost closed, letting a small flow through and the bottom gate open that bit more. It took a little while for me to work out what was what as you can see next to nothing of the lock from the controls at either end, but we were soon through and on our way again.

Goodbye Lodes

Straight on past the pub, the river view tables all full, people waving as we went past. A narrowboat came towards us, quite a long way over and heading for a big willow, thankfully the two dogs on the roof managed to stay onboard.

Ely and gulls

The heavens opened as Ely Cathedral showed itself again on the skyline.

Popes Corner, time to turn towards the west and onto the River Old West. There are several EA moorings on the first bend but we had our sights set on the GOBA mooring at Stretham Old Engine, hopefully there would be space for us and it be a suitable place for a supermarket delivery.

Good lengthy EA mooring

Another speed check, we were well within it at 42 seconds. Plenty of others were going that bit faster!

The chimney of the old engine showed itself, then the mooring. One boat and a handful of fishermen, but plenty of space for us. We pulled in and settled down for the rest of the day, making amendments to our big shopping order.

Bookend pigeons

A little walk round late afternoon we had a little nosy at the museum. Sadly it is only open on Sundays, maybe every Sunday or maybe the second one each month! Too long for us to hang around to see inside.

Our mooring for the night

Stretham steam engine replaced four windmills that had been trying to drain the surrounding fens for years, they’d struggled to cope with flooding and were at the mercy of the weather. The engine was built by Butterleys in 1831 costing £4950 and it scooped water up into the Old West River. The coal to drive the engine arrived by barge, chunks of 2 to 3ft piled high in the yard, these had to be broken up before they could be burned, the engine using a quarter of a ton an hour. It was one of only three drainage beam engines left in the Fens. It was used for over a hundred years and then was replaced by electric pumps. What a shame we won’t see it running.

1 lock, 8.05 miles, 2 straights, 1 left, 1 shower to be missed, 14 days! 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish,1 order completed after 12 goes, 1 closed museum, 1 fishing tennis fan, 1 looping the loop Spitfire.

Amazonian Cruise. 27th June

Reach GOBA Mooring to Burwell EA Mooring

Would we be able to escape? Mick tentatively walked the plank to retrieve the bow rope from the tree, the plank only just having enough solid ground under it. With the stern rope back on board he engaged reverse, thankfully there was movement and we slide off the bottom. Now all we had to do was wind!

What’s all the fuss about? Plank walking is easy peasy!

Mick decided to reverse back and swing the bow round meaning it would head towards a big willow tree which really was in an awkward place. Where we ended up meant there was little room both for and aft to get us swinging round. The bow got totally embedded in the willow. I stood in the well deck passing branches over the top and around the cratch.

This was before the amazon totally took over the cratch

STOP! There were two thick branches, one close to the cratch window the other hanging low with roots attached under the bow fender which had the potential to rip the fender off. All hard to explain to Mick from my green jungle position, but he needed to do nothing for a while as I climbed out onto the bow with nothing to hang onto, I did have my life jacket on just in case.

The first branch by the cratch window was easy to sort as it broke off in my hand, the stump of it a handy level to push the other branch away from under the bow. More dangling branches were moved, me back to safety and Mick could try moving us again. This is where bow thrusters do come in handy, although there were times where he needed to stop and let me clear the branches again that were getting caught on the tunnel light and the horns. Then thankfully we were free and pointing in the right direction.

We retraced ourselves back through the narrow Amazonian channel, a sheep coming over to check us out, I don’t think many boats venture down here!

At least we know where we’re going

At the junction with Burwell Lode waterlilies grown in the centre of the triangle where few boats go. Here we turned right, the wider deeper water meant we almost got up to normal cruising speed.

Far more open than the rivers

We were soon joined by two Terns making use of our wake to fish in, the proximity they flew in to Mick’s head at times was quite alarming. They dived in so close to the prop, but this seemed to be worth it as they’d immerge with a catch in their beaks most times.

Pretty horses with a black stripe down their backs

The view was different here, over damp grass land where a herd of cattle grazed, in amongst them Koniks, horses the closest breed to the wild horses that would have inhabited such areas. They are sandy in colour with darker mains and were very busy doing what they do best, eating!

A lufted lift bridge

A bridge, no two bridges! One a foot bridge the other a lift bridge, usually kept open.

We were making good time now, until we reached a depot on the north bank where the channel got narrower, our pace slowed down again.

Cosy neighbours for lunch

Finally our goal came into view and the mooring with enough space for a narrowboat was occupied. As we came alongside I asked through their hatch if we could breast up. They were having lunch and then would be on their way again. We winded, tied to them and had our lunch, then did a do-ci-do when they left. Cat health and safety check, we were a hedge away from a farm yard and was that Giant Hog Weed that the mower had cut? Mick didn’t think it was, but I was unsure, so the verdict wasn’t one Tilly wanted to hear, ‘Not today Tilly, sorry’.

St Mary’s Burwell

We’d heard about St Mary’s church and been told we had to visit. It is one of the finest perpendicular churches in Britain, a wonderful example of 15th Century architecture. Reginald Ely is credited for creating the church, he was a master mason for Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. It is said that he and his workmen honed their skills at Kings before doing their best work at Burwell.

Very light and airy

Lofty, with a timber ceiling, possibly the kind that was originally intended for Kings before the fan vaulting was built. Carved animals line the roof line and vast tall windows fill the nave with light.

Green, a bit like being in a swimming pool

Through the choir screen all the glass has a green tinge, meaning that by the alter seems cold and I suspect many a bride and groom have looked a touch nauseous on their happy day!

Dedicated in 1934

Two colourful stained glass windows date from the early 20th Century adding colour to the scene. By the north door is a large painting of St Christopher, worshipers would have stopped to pray below him on entering the church.

Butterflies flying up the tower

Around the church were masses of butterflies, the tower outside has a cascade of them. Made by locals for the Jubilee there are simply thousands of them, all different shapes and sizes, all very jolly.

Back in the long linear village we spotted a windmill behind houses. A fox on a newly thatched roof. Pound Hill where stray animals used to be impounded until a fine was paid. A plaque remembering 78 people who died in a barn fire during a puppet show in 1727. I always knew puppets had an evil side to them!

A thatcher’s fox

This evening we have gained a neighbour, a Black Prince hire boat with a family from California. They are over on their second boating holiday, the last one was in Scotland. Today they picked the boat up in Ely and this was their first stop. They are very quiet neighbours think they were tucked up in bed by 9.

0 locks, 4.67 miles, 1 reverse, 1 fracas with a willow, 1 escaped boat, 2 lodes, 2 neighbours, 4563 butterflies, 2 pints milk, 1 very long village, 4 welcome to moor alongside posters,  1 new lodger booked, 1 quiet evening, 1 missing episode of Sherwood.

Fens and Flutterbys. 26th June

Wicken Fen GOBA Mooring to Reach Lode GOBA Mooring

Wicken Fen

Time to dust off the National Trust cards, today would be their first outing since before the pandemic when we visited the Back to Backs in Birmingham.

Wicken Fen visitor centre

Wicken Fen is 254.5 hectares and is a SSSI protected by international designations as a Ramsar wetland site of international importance. It is one of the oldest nature reserves in the country and the first to have been looked after by the National Trust after it was donated by Charles Rothschild in 1901.

Natural fen

Here you can see an area of natural fen land, no pumping out of water to dry the land for agriculture here, in fact at times water is pumped in to help maintain the land. Where we are moored at Monk’s Lode, water is pumped under Wicken Lode and into the fen by a modern windmill (on the left).

The last surviving wooden wind pump (on the right) in the Fens sits proudly over looking the swaying grasses and sedge. It was built around 1912 and was moved from Adventurers’ Fen and restored in 1956. The windmill sails still have sheets wrapped round them ready to to be stretched out to catch the wind, the round shape at the back is where the wheel is to lift water from the drain into the fen to help maintain a high water table.

There are several walks around the area, we chose to walk the Boardwalk and then the woodland walk. Easels are located at places pointing out plantlife, dragonflies, damselflies, birds and in the woodland butterflies. Most of the time living examples wizz past.

In a hide we settled down, quieter than a mouse to watch to see what might happen. The bird feeders attracted a lot of Goldfinches, I think at one point we had about six of them vying for the seed. Such colourful birds the air filled with only their song. Sadly the noise of some people coming into the hide sent them all flying away until the new observers settled down, but only a brave couple of birds returned.

Brimstone hiding

Parts of the fen have changed due to drying out. More plants have taken hold and in some areas trees have taken root. The woodland area a haven for butterflies. There were numerous easels about them. We spotted a Brimstone that flew by and then politely hung from under a leaf, showing off it’s perfect camouflage, if we’d not seen it fly in we’d have never have known it was there.

A Ringlet?

Flittering White wings occasionally haphazardly flew past us, the odd Peacock and Red Admiral all butterflies of child hood. Then there were masses of small brown butterflies, few wanting to take a rest long enough for the camera to focus upon them. A Speckled Wood, but plenty more without obvious markings. All we could see at the time was a yellowy cream outline to their wings. Later on studying the photos black dots could be seen meaning that they were Ringlets.

We walked out across the fen spotting Meadow Sweet that will soon be filling the air with its fragrance, a smell I will always associate with the Chesterfield Canal. We’d been told to look out for orchids, were these some?

That’s a nice narrowboat over there!

Back round to where we’d started after a pleasant walk. You could spend several quiet days walking the fen, seeing and hearing all sorts of nature.

Across the way sat an old cottage with a colourful garden. In the open door way an invite for you to take a peek inside. Nobody had mentioned the cottage and barns, but we did as invited and took a peek. A cockerel came over to show himself off. An outside privy, just as you’d expect except that the newspaper to wipe one’s behind is now photocopied!

Boats used for catching eels with wicker traps, nets for plovers (lapwings). So much crammed into a few barns that we’d nearly walked past.

This could be Reach Lode or Wicken both narrow and amazonian

A late lunch and then we were ready to push off, more Lodes to explore. The cruisier behind had left earlier thank goodness as the wind was going to make it hard for us to wind, the bow constantly being pushed over and the stern heading straight for the bank. Eventually we got round and aimed in the right direction, soon meeting the trip boat coming back to drop off it’s visitors.


The going was slow again, I headed to the bow to spread the weight more evenly which helped a touch. A family filled a canoe and so many dragonflies flitted about like fairies. Or do fairies flit about like dragonflies?

Back at the junction

We got almost to the junction before we were caught up by the last trip boat of the day. Mick had considered pulling in here to moor but there was still no space on the EA moorings, so we turned eastward had a discussion as to which Lode we’d venture down first, Reach came out top.

A Tern followed our every move

Now deeper, or so it seemed for a while, the going was a touch quicker. The Lodes are higher than the surrounding land and without flood banks you actually get a view.

Bloomin blanket!

At the fork we turned to the south east towards Reach, reeds started to surround us, swaying in the stiff breeze. Then masses of blanket weed, the sort that tangles props up really well. Mick knocked us out of gear to glide through such sections. Was this only to get worse the further we progressed? We were now just that bit to far along the lode to reverse out again, so onwards we went, thankfully the blanket weed gradually diminished.

A bridge!

At Reach the lode splits in two, well it looks like it used to. Signs warn that this is the end of the navigation and permission should be sought to moor from the Parish Council. Just beyond there were the GOBA signs. Was there space for one or more boats, would there be anywhere in full sunlight? There was space for two or three, but it all looked rather shallow. We tried pulling in where there was less tree coverage, here would have been good last week for the 32C day. The depth prohibited access to land, we backed up and tried again. All the time the stern getting stuck on the bottom. We eventually made it back to the start of the moorings, the bow almost came into the side, just enough to get off, then Mick powered Oleanna round. The ropes were wrapped round trees, we were moored, our plank only just long enough to reach land. This however wasn’t a problem for Tilly!

Plank required!

We hope that tomorrow we’ll be able to get ourselves free again, as it may be some time before anyone else ventures down here!

0 locks, 4.08 miles, 1 wind, 1 left, 2 rights, 1 big fen, 2 windmills, 6531 butterflies, 431 damselflies, 311 dragonflies, 1 canoe, 1 cat tip toing along the plank, 6ft plank only just long enough, 1 very shallow mooring, 0 sight seeing from here, 1 supermarket delivery moved back.

Slowing Right Down. 25th June

Waterbeach GOBA Mooring to Wicken Lode GOBA Mooring

The Geraghty zoom this morning included discussions on rust treatments, interviewing conductors and a quick whiz around Kath’s new home. So good to see her smiling face this morning.

Just before we were about to push off a rowing VIII came past bedecked in Ukrainian flags, obviously a fund raiser row. Bottisham Lock is just around a bend so we couldn’t quite see what was happening, were they turning to return to Cambridge? Were they going through the lock? Were they just taking a breather on the lock landing? Zooming in with my camera I could see oars being moved around over head, then the guillotine gate began to close, they’d be going down in the lock, the lock landing free for us to pull into.

Sure enough it was a fund raiser to help support families displaced by the war, the group were rowing to Ely and back today. It took quite a while for them to pull their boat out of the lock by which time we’d been joined above by a sailing dinghy.

Sharing the lock

By the time I’d reset the lock the crew on the dinghy had dropped their mast, there was plenty of space, so no danger of us getting a touch too cosy with them. With the strong winds they thought they’d catch us up and maybe even over take us on the way to their lunch date at the Five Miles from Anywhere Inn at Upware. Going back later however would be a different ball game, plenty of tacking required! They didn’t manage to catch us, but their sail was seen.

We pootled our way along past the asymmetrical cows again.

Upware Lock approach

Reaching Upware we turned right into the wind at the junction heading for the navigable Lodes. Here a shortish lock sits, 61ft 4″. This is used to help regulate the water levels in the Lodes, the lock resets itself automatically with bottom gate open top closed, the height difference only being about 4″.

A boat was waiting to come down, the lock in our favour. The chap meant well as he chatted away about flashing lights as I was trying to read and digest the instructions on the panel, regarding the flashing lights. The lock worked for us and once we were clear it looked like it would work for them also despite the flashing lights meaning not to use the lock.

Getting narrower all the time

Narrow and slow, passing moored boats. An EA length of moorings at the junction with Wicken Lode were full, we’d not be able to return to moor there if all spaces were taken at the end. We swung under the wooden bridge the navigation now even narrower and shallower and very very slow going!

We’ll get to use our membership cards soon

It is 1.5 miles to the end of the navigable section, our guide book suggests it should take half an hour, Waterway Routes suggests an hours cruise, we just about managed an hour twenty five, it was very VERY S L O W going. All the more time to admire the views, the dragonflies and waterlilies that lined the narrow water.

Just wider than Oleanna

At first the route wiggles back and forth, how would we manage if something was coming the other way? Our progress slowed to slower than walking pace, engine off to check the weed hatch. There was weed, luminous bright green tagliatelle weed in 8 inch lengths.

Once the wiggles were out of the way we could just about make out the straight course of the Lode ahead. Walkers sped past us, binoculars at the ready. We discussed changing a supermarket delivery we’d booked for a few days time, nudging it by a day or two as we might still be battling our way back!


A Marsh Harrier, a tall bird hide, a black and white windmill all came and went.

Then up ahead we spotted a few heads, a National Trust trip boat out from Wicken Fen. They pulled to one side and waved us on. Would they catch us up on their return journey? Of course they did, but the wind was too strong for us to be able to keep Oleanna’s bow in for them to pass, so they followed us to where Wicken Lode meets Monk’s Lode.

Cheery chap at the helm

Here a cruiser was on the GOBA mooring, a look of panic in their eyes. They were about to set off, wanting to get moving before they’d be in the way of the trip boat on it’s next trip. All was fine, we pulled up just past them, the trip boat headed to it’s landing and the cruiser managed to wind and head off.

Once moored up the doors were opened and Tilly headed off avoiding the many walkers and woofers, plenty of friendly cover to keep her busy.

Not a bad mooring

Being a sheltered place we decided that we’d get the barbeque out, burgers and buns were defrosted, kebabs made up and some cabbageslaw made. We were joined early evening by a cruiser who also had the same idea. What a wonderful mooring, still quite busy with walkers into the evening. Soon after we’d eaten dark clouds came overhead, so we retired indoors to avoid the possibility of rain.


2 locks, 5.3 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 1 shared lock, 8 rowing, 1.5 miles very very slow, 1 missing D, 1 happy cat, 4 kebabs, 2 burgers, 1 bowl of slaw, 1 lovely mooring, 55.5 today.