Thursday, 12 July 2018

Popes Corner

Today's Navigation - River Great Ouse

The day began rather chilly and overcast but we were looking forward to the forecast sunshine mid afternoon!

Our overnight mooring had indeed proved to be very quiet and pleasant - the trees on the opposite bank were not large enough to block out the tv signal, not that we were wanting to watch a certain football match, anything but. However,. as we reported in yesterday's blog, the depth alongside is not as great as might be expected looking back at it.

We cruised steadily along, passing Pike and Eel Marina, to arrive at Brownshill Staunch and Lock.

A cruiser ghat had passed us shortly before we cast off had just prepared the lock and kindly waited for us. However, despite their best efforts to squeeze right forward there was not quite enough length for us to go down with them in safety. Hence we had to back out and then reset the lock after they had left.

The bridge running across the river just above the lock is a conveyor belt that transports sand and gravel from an active quarry to the right of the picture to the processing plant at Needingworth on the other side. In 2017 they were given permission to work longer hours in order to keep up with the needs of the contractors building the A14 Huntingdon bypass that held us up yesterday.

By the time we were ready to enter there was a queue behind us. The lock landing is only long enough to accommodate a single narrowboat so any more have to hover out in the main stream.

After completing the tidal section it was our turn to hover as a boat was already on the landing at Hermitage Lock. Quite soon the light turned green and they were able to enter the lock, letting us come alongside. A boat was then brought up before we could make our turn to the Old West River part of the Great Ouse.

From here to Popes Corner there is very little flow of water as the main flow continues from above Hermitage Lock down the New Bedford River to emerge just below Denver Sluice.

The result of this is that the first half of the section is very weedy with a rapidly growing amount of blanket and surface weed. Not long after leaving the lock we met a large weed harvester coming the other way.

The surface weed is so dense in some places that it closes back up almost before the boat has passed through.

Just after passing Aldreth we encountered a string of vessels (pushed or pulled by the one in the middle) being moved very slowly by an EA crew - we think that they are for bank piling and that they were on their way from one repair to the next. Signs at both ends of the Old West River make a plea for boats to avoid speeding as there has been significant bank erosion. Piling is intermittent and looks as if it is done in sometimes shirt sections whenever really necessary.

By three o'clock the blue skies had returned and the sun was much warmer although in the shade a chilling breeze could take over.

After passing The Lazy Otter we came to Stretham Steam Engine - one day we will be able to time our trip to coincide with one of the two Sundays a month that it is open to visitors!

Only just a little earlier than scheduled we arrived at Hundred Acre mooring, a shirt distance before Popes Corner. Although the main railway line is near at hand, it does not seem to be at all disruptive. It is a bit curved in shape - not such a bother for the cruisers but the only section straight enough for us would have left us in the middle of the space - not really the most polite thing to do even if we have not yet seen any other boats wanting to share this mooring but it does seem a bit odd with us at one end and the cruisers at the other.

15.3 Miles - 2 Locks

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