Sunday, 29 July 2018

Great Doddington

Today's Navigation - River Nene

The weather had this morning very definitely changed -overcast, occasional light drizzle and many degrees cooler.In addition, 50 mph winds were forecast for the afternoon - fortunately they never materialised but it was still rather blustery all day.

Having failed with our plan to visit Little Addlington church this morning, we opted instead for another in the same group at Irthlingborough. To do this meant that, after leaving the Stanbwick Lakes FOTRN Mooring,  we had about an hour's cruising to the long EA mooring close to the former Rushden and Diamonds football stadium, including one lock.

As we changed our clothes it was dry but threaten to be wet so we packed our waterproofs into the new rucksack. By the time we had closed up the boat it was actually wet so the rucksack was raided before we had even left the mooring!

It was around 18 minutes walk to the church, fairly easy but partly uphill - only a slight slope! We saw this old style traffic sign and wondered how it had been forgotten and not replaced with a standard current design.

We did not managed a particularly good photo of the church outside as we did not want to hand about in the rain and also the immediate area is a large building site. However the history is interesting. The town has ancient origins and the church dates back to around the end of the 14C - different web sites give slightly different dates but that is perhaps because the founder, a local businessman made good and who could afford later to become Lord Mayor of London, wanted to found a collegiate church. It was incomplete at the time of his death but his widow carried on the work.

The parish website says, "Unusually amongst Northamptonshire churches Irthlingborough church has a lantern tower (a feature normally associated with churches on the Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire fens). This dates back to the days before the Nene valley was bridged or drained, in those days there was a river ford between Higham Ferrers and Irthlingborough, but due to the boggy nature of the undrained valley, fogs were frequent and much worse than today. To guide travelers across the Nene and marsh's monks built two Lantern Towers at Higham and Irtlhlingbrough and would light fires in the lantern's."

The service was led by the assistant priest supported by one of the Readers. With a small choir, we numbered about 35. The sermon was preached by the Reader - overall there was noting special to report, but only one person spoke to us but we did have to leave without joining in coffee as we wanted to make some reasonable progress today and were still unsure about how the wind would develop.

Back at the boat we changed quickly and set off once more. We could see that the site of the stadium that was here in 2010 when we came here before was now a bare building site - well, a site waiting for a building. We discovered via the internet that the Rushden and Diamonds club grew rapidly in the 1990's and eventually was promoted to the Football League. However, this success quickly faded, the original owner seem,s to have lost interest and new owners could not turn around the loss making concern quickly enough for the club to avoid losing its minor league place. It eventually close in 2011.

Max Griggs, who founded the football team, came from a family that was long associated with the town and manufacturing footwear. Their real success came in 1960 when they bought the patent rights to a German style that became the iconic Doc Martens. Sadly, some of the later financial success for the owners came at the expense of closing most UK manufacture and transferring it to the Far East.

But enough of that local history as we leave the mooring behind us - oh, but once more matter. Important boater facilities were once provided from one of the industrial buildings alongside the mooring but these have long closed. No-one seems interested in re-establishing them which is a pity as there are far too few such facilities along the river.

Shortly afterwards we reached the old bridge which has one navigable arch which is on a sharp bend downstream (ie as we approached it). It seemed as if the overnight rain had already increased the river flow and, with the strong cross wind, it was an 'interesting; couple of minutes as we narrowly avoided crashing into the pillars.

Last night we had remarked how surprised we were that there was little surface weed on the river - our recollection of 2010 was that there was quite a bit on the upper reaches. So were were very surprised at the next lock to find a large mass of weed collected above the gates and the next half mile was almost completely covered bank-to-bank.

Some sort of explanation came when we arrived at a culvert draining water from a nearby old quarry, bringing with it large quantities of the weed, After passing the culvert we immediately went back to clear water with only a little collecting in the margins and bywaters.

We mentioned Chester Farm when we came down the river but since then we have found their website that explains the wide range of projects on the go at this complex.

We stopped at the service block in Wellingborough - the moorings at this point were almost completely empty.

We came up through Great Doddington lock - we stayed overnight on the FOTRN mooring bleow the lock on our way through in May, but we also recalled a very open mooring just above and as this meant that we would have one less lock to do tomorrow to reach Northampton, we thought we would give it a go. As with several of the FOTRN mooring sites, the edge was very uneven and, with the wind, it proved some task to moor and we ended up using the gangplank. Mike managed to leap ashore when the boat was angled stem into the bank but once we had aligned it parallel to the river there was no other way back! Having come back onto the boat, neither of us wanted to explore so no photos until tomorrow. There is another boat tied up here towards the other end of the site but it does not look much better placed than we are.

9.5 Miles - 7 Locks

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