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Navigating the Great Ouse tributaries


Theo
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While we are in this area we would like to navigate as many of the waterways as possible. Some of the tributaries are quite long and it would seem unwise to find oursleves ten miles up the creek and have to reverse all the way down. Where is there winding for a 60' nb up these rivers and lodes? Is it sensible to navigate them at all? We see from the Imray Guide that the waterway to Wicken Fen is for small craft only but Theodora got there happily in 2010 and winded, so perhaps Mr Imray is a little cautious.

 

1. Lark

2. Little Ouse (Brandon Creek)

3. River Whissey

 

and off the Cam

 

4. Reach Lode to Burwell

5. Reach Lode to Reach

6. Swaffham Lode

7. Bottisham Lode

 

We are adventurous but don't want to be stupid!

 

Thanks in advance

 

Nick

 

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Swaffham and Bottisham Lodes are not navigable, as far as I know. Both branches of Reach Lode are supposed to have long winding holes at the end, but I've not been there. Wicken Lode, as you found, is a gem.

 

The rivers are easy for a 60' boat, by experience. The only gotcha is that the winding hole on the Lark is the slipway in the pub garden. If you don't know that it would be easy to go past. The winding on the Wissey is in the entrance to the stringside drain. That's fairly obvious.

 

MP.

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1, Jude's ferry.

2, Brandon lock, plenty of room by the sluice.

3, Stoke Ferry.

 

4,5,6 & 7 too weedy for us to bother with. Simon's your man smile.png

 

Thanks, Gazza. Is, Simon on the Forum and what's his forum name, please? I might pm him in case he doesn't see this.

 

Nick

Swaffham and Bottisham Lodes are not navigable, as far as I know. Both branches of Reach Lode are supposed to have long winding holes at the end, but I've not been there. Wicken Lode, as you found, is a gem.

 

The rivers are easy for a 60' boat, by experience. The only gotcha is that the winding hole on the Lark is the slipway in the pub garden. If you don't know that it would be easy to go past. The winding on the Wissey is in the entrance to the stringside drain. That's fairly obvious.

 

MP.

Useful stuff. Thanks.

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Easy winding at the end of Burwell with an EA mooring and a nice pub. We winded at the end of Reach Lode at 58ft but a struggle with low water and a bit disconcerting seeing the gravel banks in the clear water.

 

The EA mooring above Upware Lock is one of our favourite moorings. Being on an embankment the sunsets are fantastic.

 

To wind at Jude's Ferry you are best to go past the slipway then reverse into it, letting the stream push the front round. If you moor there the pontoons are a bit rickety and quite high. In fact, buy some of those inflatable fenders that the plastic boats use. Not just for there but Hemingford and St Ives with their unforgiving concrete floor walls.

 

On your way up, or down, the Lark make sure you visit the Prickwillow Drainage Museum.

 

You'll need a licence for the Cam. You can get it online. It cost us £27 for 58ft last year and gives you 90 days in the river. That's in total, not consecutively.

 

Cheapest diesel was Little Ouse Moorings and Westview Marina.

 

Make sure you join GOBA. Some of them aren't very narrowboat friendly but you get access to lots of moorings.

Edited by pearley
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If you visit my site at http://grumpybeartoo.org.ukyou will find an interactive map of the Great Ouse system showing where all the essential facilities are. It loads in Google Maps and is good on Smartphones and Ipads etc smile.png

Don't forget the Anglian Waters are a bit different. We leave locks as they are on exit - ie both V doors all the way open but with slackers (paddles) down or Guillotine gate fully up depending on which way you are going. You don't have to go back and close anything. Leave as is for the next boater. Also have bow and stern lines available as we turn off engines in locks. Locals get very Grumpy if you run your engine in a lock.

 

Lastly, there is no "towpath side". The land on both sides of the river is privately owned and is not necessarily available to moor.

Enjoy the wonderful Anglian waterways.

Edited by Grumpy Bear
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Sorry for delay, I have been snoozing all afternoon.

 

I agree with all the above! (and Grumpy Bear is not grumpy at all). Just to say:

  • on the three Lodes at Upware turn by putting the bows to the left. I did Reach Lode in May, and it was narrow and a bit sticky in places (blog)
  • If the gate is open when you arrive at Upware (in either direction) then do NOT just motor in. Instead put someone ashore to unlock the gate control panel and get ready to exercise a digit. I say this because (read the signs on the landing stages) the guillotines shut automatically after a 15 min delay, with much flashing of lights and sirens, and you don't want to be going into the lock when that happens.
  • Fenders are indeed essential at Jude's ferry. I would moor facing upstream and then do the turning manoeuvre when you depart. Nice walk along the river to Mildenhall, past various derelict locks etc
  • You won't get through the lock at Brandon. Again a very fine walk upstream (blog) along the river to Santon Downham, Grimes Graves, or cycling in Thetford Forest (we hired a tandem which was fun in the very sandy soil).
  • the adult campsite on the Wissey is not quite what you think. The relevance is that the small GOBA moorings at Stoke Ferry are in the campsite and are not for boats with children on board. (See here). I would moor either side of the siphon, here or here, or anchor in Wissington lake (biggest sugar beet works in Europe, or something).
  • Leave the guillotines fully up, not partly up.
  • Elsan points are pretty rare. Sea toilets are however still allowed!

 

The Tuesday night club have attempted Soham Lode (website still down I am afraid), and it does look quite tempting - but I think is not allowed and would only do with another boat, in pushme-pullyou mode.

Edited by Scholar Gypsy
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I would imagine that Reach Lode is virtually impossible by this time in the Summer - I just managed it in June (not this year), almost giving up because of the weed.

I was with a boater last week in London who had just come from there and said it was very bad. I have only done it twice.

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Elsan points are pretty rare. Sea toilets are however still allowed!

 

 

 

The Elsan points are on my map on a separate layer. Expect to pay £2 or so to empty your elsan in marina facilities. Free ones at Denver, Ely, Cambridge, St Ives and Cardington Lock.

 

We have a porta potty and don't have an issue with it. Never more than a day or so away from an emptying point but expect to pay.

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The Elsan points are on my map on a separate layer. Expect to pay £2 or so to empty your elsan in marina facilities. Free ones at Denver, Ely, Cambridge, St Ives and Cardington Lock.

 

We have a porta potty and don't have an issue with it. Never more than a day or so away from an emptying point but expect to pay.

 

Hartford, Buckden and Bedford Marinas don't charge for elsan or water.
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This photo shows what you are up against at Jude's Ferry on the Lark. The section you stand on is not as rickety as the stuff at water level!

 

dscf6692.jpg?w=876&h=660


And here is the turning point / slipway on the Lark - on the right just after the last lamp post, and before the two narrow boats.

 

dscf6689.jpg

Edited by Scholar Gypsy
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This photo shows what you are up against at Jude's Ferry on the Lark. The section you stand on is not as rickety as the stuff at water level!

 

dscf6692.jpg?w=876&h=660

And here is the turning point / slipway on the Lark - on the right just after the last lamp post, and before the two narrow boats.

 

dscf6689.jpg

And there is loads of room to wind, but make use or the river flow to take you round, I dropped the stern in and the river flow pulled the bows round.

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Don't forget the Anglian Waters are a bit different. We leave locks as they are on exit - ie both V doors all the way open but with slackers (paddles) down or Guillotine gate fully up depending on which way you are going. You don't have to go back and close anything.

 

Just to be clear, this does not apply to the Nene, which is part of Anglian Waters. Guillotines are always left up, and the lock empty, whichever way you are going.

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But not everyone seems to do that in practice.

It's generally fairly good in my experience, maybe because we tend to do the Nene out of main season these days. The rule only applies to guillotines: locks with two sets of mitre gates can be left in either state with the exit doors left open.

 

MP.

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Turned at Judes Ferry in the approved manner. Dead easy but rather slow. Bit warm today. We breasted up with an unoccupied nb just downstream of the slipway and waited out the fiercest of the heat.

 

We are now moored just below Isleham Lock. The Imray guide says that there are some GOBA moorings just inside the marina entrance. Not true. We have moored against the bank just below the lock landing.

 

Is Isleham pronounce Eye-zel-ham or I'll ham?

 

Thanks for all the useful tips.

 

Nick

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The goba mooring was let go a couple of years back.

For up to date info consult goba website, the imray guide is just that, not a Bible. Lots of errors in it. First one for you is the water point at the Ship Inn, Brandon Creek.....

 

I pronounce it I'llham. Phil Ambrose is resident there so he's your man for a definitive answer.

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It's generally fairly good in my experience, maybe because we tend to do the Nene out of main season these days. The rule only applies to guillotines: locks with two sets of mitre gates can be left in either state with the exit doors left open.

 

MP.

Actually you are right, having now done all the locks on the Nene, it was only 2 quite early on that were left with the guillotines down. The manual guillotines are a real PITA though, far too hard work.
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Actually you are right, having now done all the locks on the Nene, it was only 2 quite early on that were left with the guillotines down. The manual guillotines are a real PITA though, far too hard work.

 

You need to be a bit cautious with the manual guillotines. The first one I worked I whizzed it up far too fast and set up a surge in the lock that was highly alarming for poor SWMBO.

 

Another alarming occasion (I seem to be good at alarming my wife) was when the offside top gate at a lock with electric guillotine wouldn't stay shut. That meant that I couldn't start to drain the lock. SWMBO left the tiller to hold the gate and I started to raise the guillotine. To stop it rising too fast and to give SWMBO a chance to board in a sensibly relaxed way I hit the emergency stop when the guillotine was only slightly up. The lock drained veeeery slowly but it sorted the problem with the top gate. I tried to resume the lifting of the guillotine to the normal draining height but it was having none of it until the requisite two minutes was up. I raised the gate again to finish draining the lock assuming that it would stop at the normal height. It didn't. It carried on up and before I realised the lock was draining far too fast with the same surge as before.

 

I experimented with an unoccupied lock a few days later to see if it behaved in the same way. It is apparent that once the two minutes draining time is up then the guillotine can be raised fully, regardless of how far the gate had opened first. Not usually a problem. There aren't that many numpties who would use the emergency stop to control the rate of draining.

 

N

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