Friday 29 June 2018


Today's Navigations - Little Ouse, Great Ouse

We set off in good time to complete our journey up the Little Ouse, on another wonderful, sunny day. Again, there was sufficient breeze to make it feel even more pleasant.

Until Wilton Bridge the river remained open and wide - wide enough to find plenty of place to turn around if we had needed it.

There were even fewer landmarks and even when we could see some of the peat lakes alongside the river it was not easy to know where we were without recourse to a GPS map.

The crossing of the Cut Off  Channel is very similar to that on the River Wissey, perhaps with an even higher side wall to prevent any view of what lay below.

The river now became gradually narrower and more hemmed in by trees and bushes - a very different character altogether.

Eventually we arrived at Brandon Lock where we tied up to the EA mooring - thankfully entirely empty - so that we could walk ten minutes to a nearby Tesco store. The woman supporting the self checkouts was pleased to see the back of us - eventually. So many things went wrong or the system could not cope that it must have taken more of her time than if we had used a normal line! It was further not helped by the fact that (a) Christine had a £4 discount voucher if we spent over £40 - initially it looked as if we were but they when we pressed the button to pay it took off the BOGOF discounts and came below the magic target! So another delay whilst Christine sought a couple of items to make it up. But then we also had a token for the newspaper and it is important to use the voucher and the token in the correct order otherwise it gets in a strop!

We could not pass the lock as it only take boats just under 40 ft in length and we are 60. Fortunately there is plenty of room to turn around and it is only about half a mile to the head of the navigation anyway.

This lock is a bit unusual as it has the guillotine at the top and the pointing doors at the bottom - the opposite to the design of the Nene locks. We did not take many photos on our 2010 visit (we had not started to build our CanalMap library back then) but it is possible that this way round is used on the upper part of the Great Ouse. We shall see.

By the time we were ready to leave it was rather early for lunch so we put the kettle on as we set off, knowing that we would not be able to stop so it would be 'lunch on the go'.

The Ely to Norwich line cross the river just outside Brandon - we had not seen many trains but two crossed over as we came by. This one caught us a bit by surprise as at first it sounded like one of the fighter jets that had been circling all morning out of the nearby RAF Lakenheath.

This sign is attached to the middle pillar - not sure how vehicles would get here but if they did then we would definitely need to report it!

At the Cut Off Channel we stopped briefly at the sluice to take a look - this is the by-pass that allows flood waters to run down into the channel - which is right at the back of the photo.

We had seen a set of three large 'golf balls' yesterday and had later found out that they are at RAF Feltwell and were built as part of a USAF space surveillance system. However what we read was that this system is no longer in use so perhaps the golf balls will have to find another tee before long. We made sure that we took a photo on the return trip even if they are only just visible over the river banks.

We eventually arrived back at The Shop, marking our return to the main Great Ouse where we turned left towards Littleport and Ely.

Even fewer landmarks but at least when we passed under the electricity pylons we knew that Littleport was just around the corner.

We were expecting that Ely might be busy - and we were right to be concerned as later we heard that there is a water festival this weekend and all the normal visitor moorings are reserved for that. (Hopefully we will still; be able to access the sani station!) But with it coming up to the weekend and such great weather, more boats would be out and staying overnight on the visitor moorings. There was plenty of space just after the junction but it was a bit early for a final stop of the day (and very close to the busy A10) so we carried on, knowing that there were four or five other designated moorings between there and Littleport, any further and it would be into Ely.

Alas, as we passed each one we could see that boats had settled in for the afternoon and probably the evening.

Alongside Sandhill Bridge there is a mooring on either bank but both were full - or at least it looked as if we might just squeeze onto the end of the one with the water point. As we made our approach, luck was again on our side as one of the boats was preparing to leave and then the couple from the other boat helped us come alongside as they wanted to move into the vacated space to be just a little further away from the bridge!

It tuns put to be a rather pleasant spot and perhaps near enough to a shop in the village to pick up a paper in the morning. The road alongside the river here was probably also part of the A10 but that route now  swings across a new bridge and loops around both Littleport and Ely in a wide bypass.

25.4 Miles - 0 Locks

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