Tuesday, 24 July 2018


Today's Navigation - Middle Level

The overnight mooring suited us well enough despite its minimal construction and the proximity of an important A road.

The only real issue was the the ground alongside the staging was very soft and one pin had started to pull out - in any case, we had taken the precaution of additionally tying the end of both ropes to the staging itself.

As can be seen in the photo, the farming land is much lower than the canal/river with the road at this point below the flood bank at about water level. This shielded us from much fo the road noise.

At other places the road had to be run along the top of the bank.

We crossed over Mullicourt Aqueduct with a good view of the Sixteen Foot that passes underneath. Strictly, the lower level is navigate to this point from Three Holes but boats cannot pass underneath. This is the principal route to sea for excess waters collected on these Fens.

Shortly before Well Creek we passed this potentially useful mooring - except that it is labelled for the use only by patrons of  Moorings, a restaurant and travel accommodation across the road. It was perhaps built at a time when there was more likelihood of boaters stopping off for a drink at friendly pub but this place now seems to be aiming at a different market. In an area with limited mooring, would it not be generous to allow other users to moor here?

Just before the tight bend we had a view of Outwell Church - now linked with the other church in Upwell although, as we discovered when we visited the latter on our way out, each has its devoted supporters.

As we rounded the bend a couple of canoeists thought that we were heading straight at them and quickly moved to pull their craft out of harm's way! Actually it is a bit of an illusion and we were not ourselves concerned. Nevertheless, even though this is marked as a visitor mooring, we are not sure that we would be tempted to use it unless really stuck for an alternative. Equally, we are not sure what words might be muttered by boaters seeing moored boats from a distance when it might well look as if the passage was blocked.

Almost by good luck that we caught this converted old windmill at just the right moment. There was only time for one shot before it passed out of this view - we caught a glimpse from an awkward angle shortly before which is how we knew it was coming up. Unlike the wind mill used to pump water that we passed yesterday, this is shown on old maps as a corn mill - its greater height suggested this as well. The water pumps are quite squat in design. According to this website, it was built in 1829 and this page also lists its subsequent history.

As we approached the mooring out side Upwell Church, Christine was hoping that we could stop briefly so that she could pick some more herbs (see here for more details), Yes there was one space in the middle and as we were pulling we realised that the first boat was nb Jubilee the boat belonging to John and Jan Halford. Jan is known to quite a few canal users as the Chair of the Boaters Christian Fellowship.

Although we have been members for several years we are really passive members as when we are at home all the events are a very long way away and when on the boat they never happen where we are! That said we are more than happy to be on the list of members and Christine wrote an article about Alchemy and how it got its name for the magazine early this year.#

We had quite a long chat and passed some of the less documented information that we had picked up - they are heading towards the IWA Rally at the end of August so will have time to explore some of the bywaters as we have been able to do this year.

We talked too long as we were booked to arrive at Marmont Priory Lock by midday and they also had a visitor to return home just a little further along the canal.As we both left at the same time we each have pictures of the other taking a photo of the other departing boat! Will ours appear in theirs?

It was still slow going and we also had another boat to follow that passed just as we were about to recommence our journey. As a result it was nearer 1 o'clock than noon by the time we were able to leave the lock.

There were now no moorings until March so we had lunch on the go. Although there was perhaps a little more surface weed than a month ago it was every much less than we had anticipated with the hot weather. What slows boats down more are the long reeds that stay below the surface and are across the whole width.

At the next junction, Low Corner, things changed very quickly. Not only did the weed almost disappear but with greater width and depth we made considerably faster progress. The section of the Middle level which is known as Well Creek, from Salters Lode through to here, has little flow of water even at the best of times. The route down from this junction to Three Holes and then under Mullicourt Aqueduct is where most of the excess water drains away.

All but one of the wind turbines at Reed Fen Wind Farm were merrily turning - there was a really good and cooling breeze until we neared March.

This railway line marks the edge of the town and prompts a preparation for seeking a mooring. On the other hand, the waterway narrows very considerably through the town and we made much the slowest progress of the day.

We were relieved to see space on the town mooring and pulled in, but the boat we had been following asked iof we were staying the night. What we knew was that the boat behind was with them and they were really hoping to keep the space but were afraid to ask! This spot was also in direct sunshine with no breeze and felt as if it would be very hot during the rest of the afternoon. We also knew that there was a shaded mooring just the other side of the town bridge so Christine went to check it out. Ax kit was free we moved along and almost immediately the space was taken by the anticipated boat just arriving. Seems as sometimes things work for everyone.

We wanted to be moored here rather than out in the sticks so that we could do a little shopping - most urgent was some more cream to apply to the huge number of bites from insects that are no respecter of repellent cream!In each shop we visited we were reluctant to leave as their air conditioning systems were doing a splendid job!

10.7 Miles - 1 Lock

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