Monday, 19 May 2008

Eco Friendly boaters.

2 Locks, 9 miles. Now moored at Wicken Fen, Wicken Lode

We were in no great hurry as we left Clayhithe at about 9.30am. The sky was overcast with a very cold stiff breeze blowing. As we headed off to Reach Lode lock we passed several small craft all flying the red ensign and all powered by
electric propulsion. They were an assorted lot with dinghy's, canoe's and one that had the decking covered in 7 solar panel's making it very eco friendly. Anyway they all seemed to be enjoying their day out on the water. Their AGM was held
this weekend at the 'Five Miles From Anywhere Inn' at Upware yesterday and today they were all travelling to Cambridge and back.

Interestingly the Lock keeper at Baits Bite Lock had told us the River would be very busy in Cambridge today as there was a big boat race on. Good luck chaps.

Once we reached Upware we turned right into Reach Lode where the lock is a double guillotine type which made things interesting. First thing was that the bottom gate was already partly open which it does automatically 15 minutes after the last lock operation as part of the flood control. Secondly we had to lift all the fenders on both boats so that we could both fit in the lock together because it was a bit of a squeeze. Once the girls starting operating the lock red and green lights starting flashing telling us when to enter and exit the lock, oh what fun.

Once through the lock we only travelled a short distance before we turned onto the Wicken Fen. Now this was something different again as the waterway is probably not much more than 3 - 4 feet deep and only about 15 - 16 feet wide in places so we hoped that we didn't meet any boats coming out. Our speed was kept to the minimum with the engine barely going above a fast idle. At the navigable end of the waterway is a wide 'Y' junction with another creek which is plenty wide enough to wind our boats. There was already a boat on the moorings but they were just preparing to leave so there was plenty of room available.

We were just getting lunch when we became aware of another boat in the winding hole and we found it was the lady on Kanbedun Again who shared the moorings at Waterbeach with us last night, unbeknown to us she had followed us. To make things easier she breasted up with Kalimera and still left plenty of room should any more boats arrive, but I think with Cambridge FC playing at Wembley today that is not likely as the locals will all be glued to the TV or at the match.

Later on Dot and I, accompanied by Christina went for a walk up to the Wicken Fens visitor centre to look at the wind powered water pump and then into the village to see the restored windmill. It was interesting to note all the rods and wires which make the windmill sails fully operational. From there we found the public footpath which took us across the wetlands and back to the boat. At the wetlands it was interesting to see the twitchers (bird watchers) getting all excited over spotting Lapwings, Ring Plovers and a Shoveller duck. The Lapwings were busy chasing off Crows. Oh that's too much excitement for 1 day, I think I need a rest.

1136 locks, 1546 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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