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GU/Nene and beyond.worth the effort.


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As per the title. We are having executive meeting as what to do with our new found freedom later this year. We have to visit Langley Mill for. ‘Stuff’ and then we are free. We are thinking ‘doing’ the Nene and levels.

 

Is it worth the effort, will we have enough time to loose ourselves?  Is it advisable to do it from Spring to Autumn? No time constraints.

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The Nene and over to Cambridge was probably the best trip we have done. We were very lucky as we spent two weeks in Cambridge as we had "help" from a local moorer. It would be a little sad to get to Cambridge and not be able to find a spot...which is quite likely. The rest of it is all very good and interesting too.

 

The Salters Lode tidal bit was tricky in a full length boat.

 

............Dave

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The Nene is stunning, especially if you overnight on the lake near Peterborough. Middle levels are...different but worth doing, and beyond is great, I've not been to Bedford yet though.

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Bought my boat in Ely, at the time I loved the trip to the GU on the Nene but didn't fully appreciate it as I hadn't ever been on a canal. Rivers are so so much more interesting!

Middle levels are a bit of a chore after a while tbh

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3 hours ago, Nightwatch said:

As per the title. We are having executive meeting as what to do with our new found freedom later this year. We have to visit Langley Mill for. ‘Stuff’ and then we are free. We are thinking ‘doing’ the Nene and levels.

 

Is it worth the effort, will we have enough time to loose ourselves?  Is it advisable to do it from Spring to Autumn? No time constraints.

Yes, I'd say that it is well worth doing, we managed to get it in last year before they came up with this Anglian Pass idea. With a Gold Licence we did every navigable bit of the Nene, Levels and Great Ouse, (and all connected rivers including the Cam) leaving Northampton on 2nd July and getting back on 13th September.

 

I suppose that the Anglian Pass scheme would increase the odds of us doing the Cam to Cambridge again, if we ever went back, since you have to get one to cross the Levels and may as well make use of it, but Cambridge was a bit of a disappointment in cruising terms since the moorings are very limited. We apparently moored up (inadvertently) on a residential mooring by the Fort St George pub on Midsummer Common thinking we were on the public moorings, we weren't since there are only 2 such moorings there. Since all the moorings at Jesus Green were full to find a legitimate mooring we would have had to go right back to Clayhithe Bridge. Since the cost to go on the Cam was over £50 it wasn't good value, but since you'll already have an Anglian pass, nothing to lose now.

 

It is certainly worthwhile getting membership of Friend's of the Nene since it is only £12 and it gives the option of a few more moorings on the Nene (they are a bit thin on the ground) but we didn't bother with GOBA since the cost was twice the price of FORN and there are more EA moorings available.

 

If you want a real challenge, try Reach Lode, one of the few excursions I have been unsure of being able to get through (we did but it was a struggle):unsure:

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10 minutes ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

With a Gold Licence we did every navigable bit of the Nene, Levels and Great Ouse, (and all connected rivers including the Cam) leaving Northampton on 2nd July and getting back on 13th September.

Even the Westbridge Arm in Northampton?

😁😷

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Just now, Loddon said:

Even the Westbridge Arm in Northampton?

😁😷

If that is the bit that goes straight on when you turn left towards the canal lock, then no. I walked along that and realised that there was no chance of turning at the end of it (by the brewery isn't it?) and couldn't be *rsed with reversing back.

 

On the other hand we got down as far as the boathouse near Kempston (beyond Bedford), and that was also quite a tight winding ;)

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54 minutes ago, sirweste said:

 

Middle levels are a bit of a chore after a while tbh

A CHORE? Few sharp turns, little traffic, hardly any locks, and some of those have lock-keepers. What would you consider easy?

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Its well worth the effort , just the cost at the moment may (or not) be the issue at the moment. See pinned thread above started by Scholar Gypsy and look on GOBA site for good info.

Great Ouse is no effort-not many locks and you can leave the gates/guillotines open whichever end you go out of. One of the few navigations where you get moaned at for shutting all the gates 😀

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

If that is the bit that goes straight on when you turn left towards the canal lock, then no. I walked along that and realised that there was no chance of turning at the end of it (by the brewery isn't it?) and couldn't be *rsed with reversing back.

 

On the other hand we got down as far as the boathouse near Kempston (beyond Bedford), and that was also quite a tight winding ;)

It runs in on the opposite side of the river to  the canal, it was navigable until the IWA stopped having their rally's in Northampton as they used to clear it.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/jvUfEk6ma5rbwhPx7

The other one is to turn left out of the canal not sure how far up there you can get these days, used to be a reasonable distance.

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4 hours ago, dmr said:

The Salters Lode tidal bit was tricky in a full length boat.

 

1 hour ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

If you want a real challenge, try Reach Lode, one of the few excursions I have been unsure of being able to get through (we did but it was a struggle):unsure:

 

Reach Lode is a particular challenge in a full length boat:

 

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1 hour ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

Yes, I'd say that it is well worth doing, we managed to get it in last year before they came up with this Anglian Pass idea. With a Gold Licence we did every navigable bit of the Nene, Levels and Great Ouse, (and all connected rivers including the Cam) leaving Northampton on 2nd July and getting back on 13th September.

 

 

 

The Cambridge Backs?

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Is it worth it?  I would say yes.

 

In 2016 (wow that's 5 years ago) we went down the Nene and had a wonder round the Middle Levels.  Unfortunately we were still working then, so did not have time to make it to the Gt Ouse.  We have planned to do that last year but of course it never happened (like most of last year).  I would like to do this trip next year.

 

The Nene is hard work, the locks are tough and there are a lot of them.  There are very few moorings on the Nene, particularly until you get downstream of Wellingbrough.  I did join FOTRN, I think I am still a member and kept paying because it seems a very worthwhile scheme.  The lake at Ferry Meadows just before you get to Peterborough is fun, and a good stopping off place before going through Stanground.

 

The ML has a lot of a feel of the northern BCN to me, weedy (but not full of rubbish) and very few boats.  There are even less moorings on the ML though.  A trip to Ramsey is worth it, but the mooring there was a real mess in 2016, I think I saw something about it being rebuilt.  Turning in the basin there was was a bit of a challenge as it was full of shopping trollies, and it is, I think, the only time we have ever had to resort to using the pole to push the bow round.  The Sixteen Foot drain is a bit tedious, 2 hours in a straight line, but worth it to have done it.  March has the most interesting Wetherspoons I have been to, an old cinema.

 

I look forward to doing it all again, with the Gt Ouse and tributaries thrown in this time hopefully.

 

 

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We went as far as Bedford on our last year of cruising your beautiful inland waterway system after purchasing a gold licence for that year to start the season with a St Pancras Thames cruise. What we had thought was "doing the leftovers" was actually a highlight of our 5 years. Such a contrast with hill top boating up north. The upper levels of the tributary rivers are lovely, and so much space. The fens themselves fascinating. Go forth and enjoy.

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Yes it's absolutely worth it! Just do your research on the latest advice RE where to moor. Moorings are sparse and as with many rivers with private banks, situation can change year to year. But Nene is stunning and middle levels worth it for being so different to anywhere else on the system. Plus they are all under used so what more reason do you need! I'd just aim to be back on the canals by autumn before it rains!

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1 hour ago, ditchcrawler said:

The Cambridge Backs?

Assuming that is the bit above Jesus Lock, in summer you cannot get up there, and in winter we don't do rivers (particularly one's where you have to go over 100 miles to get back to the relative safety of a canal:unsure:), so that bit isn't going to get done even if we do go back there.

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Handy guide to visitor moorings, water points, pump-out and Elsan facilities along the river Nene

 

Nene moorings Guide PDF

 

 

1 hour ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

Assuming that is the bit above Jesus Lock, in summer you cannot get up there, and in winter we don't do rivers (particularly one's where you have to go over 100 miles to get back to the relative safety of a canal:unsure:), so that bit isn't going to get done even if we do go back there.

It is, only permitted between October and March as punts and narrowboats don't mix.

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13 minutes ago, nbfiresprite said:

Handy guide to visitor moorings, water points, pump-out and Elsan facilities along the river Nene

 

Nene moorings Guide PDF

 

There are  more casual moorings but most are unofficial.

Denford above the bridge in the lockcut as an example.

Often its a jump to the bank and a gangplank is essential.

 

@gazza on Thunderboat has what i believe may be a definative list of Nene moorings

 

 

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Here is a new page on the GOBA website that I have been working on for people like you. The new licence situation is rather complex and still not 100% clear, so that section may change.

https://goba.org.uk/a-guide-for-visitors-to-the-east/
 

And some photos of the scenery you will find when you get there. There are some interesting bits of the Middle Level (not levels) too: see my August 2020 blog.  Includes photos of Reach and Wicken.


https://scholargypsy.org.uk/contents/

2 hours ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

Assuming that is the bit above Jesus Lock, in summer you cannot get up there, and in winter we don't do rivers (particularly one's where you have to go over 100 miles to get back to the relative safety of a canal:unsure:), so that bit isn't going to get done even if we do go back there.

I do (free) trips up the Backs in the winter, if you fancy a day trip!  

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I would echo the enthusiasm of others.   The first year with Cygnet I went from Calcutt to my Yorkshire mooring via Cambridge (!) and loved the Fens so much that I went back twice, exploring almost everywhere a 27ft boat could go.  Far from the Middle Level being a chore, over a month was well spent there one summer, including a few days moored to Athy's lawn.     The Nene, Middle Level, Ouse, tributaries and lodes are absolutely worth the effort and expense, although the last is more now of course.

 

Edited because I got my lodes mixed up with my reaches - and yes I managed Reach Lode!

Edited by Mac of Cygnet
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Thank you all for good and unbiased opinions of this area of adventure. Certainly food for thought.

 

Time is restricted this year as it was last year, but we have to do something. Banbury is a good place for a lock down, but there’s only so long you can be here. (Actually in Cropredy at present.) But you get the idea.

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The Nene is a fantastic river and you will get a decent workout steering around its meanders. As others have said mooring is one of the challenges but when you find one they are glorious, one of the best we found was at Fotheringhay. One thing that is almost entirely missing are shops, you will need to take plenty of food and drink as there isn't much available for long stretches. 

 Watch out for the bridges on the middle level, you'll have to duck in anything other than a canoe. 

Edited by BWM
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Just now, BWM said:

The Nene is a fantastic river and you will get a decent workout steering around its meanders. As others have said mooring is one of the challenges but when you find one they are glorious, one of the best we found was at Fotheringhay. One thing that is almost entirely missing are shops, you will need to take plenty of food and drink as there isn't much available for long stretches. 

 Watch out for the bridges on the middle level, you'll have to duck in anything other than a canoe. 

Yes, I liked the one at Fotheringay, it was funny because when I saw the sign saying it was £5 I thought 'How do we pay that?' no need to worry, the farmer was at our door (both times) within 10 minutes;), I don't know where he watches from, but he's pretty alert.

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5 minutes ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

Yes, I liked the one at Fotheringay, it was funny because when I saw the sign saying it was £5 I thought 'How do we pay that?' no need to worry, the farmer was at our door (both times) within 10 minutes;), I don't know where he watches from, but he's pretty alert.

We stopped towards the end of October and ended up with a free night, but had expected a visit as the staff in the very nice local pub said he was on the ball! The most user friendly mooring we found as most had a wavy, eroded edge, i've never heard as many owls in one small area either. The ancient stone bridge and dramatic church were stunning in the mist of the following morning. 

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