Saturday, 15 June 2019

Stuck in Denford

Thu 13th June  Denford

Not a lot to report today. We didn’t move the boat, as it was raining all day.  One boat came up through the lock in the pouring rain. Perhaps they didn’t know the red boards were out.

Heavy rain

Still raining

James registered with the environment agency so that we would be notified when the Strong Stream Advice is lifted. Then we lit a fire - in June!!

It brightened up in the evening for a short while, and we spotted a barn owl flying over the water meadows.

No boating today

Fri 14th June  Denford

Our mooring at Denford

The flow over the top gates

It was drier today, although it seemed as though the water level had risen. We thought we would walk into Denford and check out what it had to offer. We checked the bus times and worked out that we could go to Thrapston and back. However, it was a long wait for the bus, so we thought we would have lunch at the pub. No: they don’t open until 4pm! So we went to look round the church. No: it was all locked up.

We still had more than an hour before the bus was due, so we walked into Thrapston. We bought some sausages at the butchers, and discovered that the two pubs in the centre don’t serve food. We went to a café and had an inexpensive lunch. James went to look at the river going under the medieval bridge, and we caught the bus back.

The bridge will be a bit of a challenge when we set off, as it has many arches, and with a strong flow there is a danger of being caught against the bridge piers if we get it wrong. All except the centre arch are too low for navigation, and the centre arch does not line up with the natural route in the centre of the channel.

Thrapston Bridge

No boating today

Sat 15th June  Denford

Most of the rain had finished, but the river was still flowing quickly. We considered eating at the pub in Denford, but then realised that they don’t serve food! Don’t people eat around here?

James made occasional visits to the lock to see if the water levels had dropped. It looked as though it was down slightly, but not enough to allow navigation.

We caught up with some paperwork and practised some songs.  We had heavy rain in the afternoon and a lovely sunset later.

Rain clouds

Heavy Rain


No boating today.

Next: Tomorrow we could walk into Thrapston to go to the church there, but it means starting early. We have also found a pub that serves food and they do a carvery on Sunday. We also have a taxi phone number, so we may use that.

Hopefully we will be in Peterborough by next weekend, because we have booked three nights in the marina at March on 25thJune. We are hiring a car and going to two funerals on two consecutive days, and we have been asked to lead some worship at both.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Wellingborough to Denford

Sun 9th Jun  Wellingborough to Irthlingborough

The flour mills opposite were making a noise all night, probably from extractor fans.

Flour mill by night

We walked via minor roads and footpaths to visit a Vineyard church in Wellingborough. The talk was about the Holy Spirit, and the worship was well led by a 5-piece band. Many people came to say hello, which was very encouraging.

Worship team at Wellingborough Vineyard

We walked back via Tesco for a few bits and pieces. James returned to the boat to fill the water tank and empty a cassette while Hazel finished the shopping. The water tap was on the outside of a bend, where he couldn’t moor so he had to use two hoses joined together. While waiting for Hazel to return with the shopping, he had conversations with four different people.

Water tap on a bend

We set off, hoping to moor at a FOTRN site at Rushden Lakes, 2 locks and 3 miles away.

Lower Wellingborough Lock was the first challenge. It has vee doors at both ends, and it was in our favour, with the top gates open. Fortunately, we noticed that the paddles on the top gates were also raised, so we lowered them before raising the paddles on the lower gates.

Lower Wellingborough Lock

Further downstream we cruised under the 14-arch railway bridge, with the FOTRN mooring at Ditchford soon afterwards on the right bank.

14 arches railway bridge

Ditchford mooring

Ditchford Lock was next. This lock is unusual in that instead of a guillotine gate at the lower end, there is a radial gate – the only one on the Nene.

Ditchford Radial Lock

The mooring we were heading for was described in our booklet as being on the right after two bends, just after a “slow-moored boats sign”. We looked hard and saw no possible place to moor. There were no signs and no moored boats.

We carried on for another two miles until we came to Higham Lock. There were some lads having fun at the lock, and they opened the gates for us. We gave them a tube of sweets to share. This lock has vee doors at each end. Soon after this we passed under the A6, and then through an arch in a medieval stone bridge. Me moored up soon after, at the Rushden and Diamonds football ground, where there is a long line of mooring bollards.

Irthlingborough Bridge dates to 13th century

Moored at Irthlingborough

Stanwick Lakes nature reserve is close by, and James went for a walk. He spotted a bullfinch and a whitethroat. Then three Oyster Catchers flew over, as well as four separate egrets. As he was taking a photo of the lakes a swan decided to stretch out its wings.  There were rabbits everywhere. As he crossed the river on a footbridge, he saw the FOTRN Stanwick Lakes site which looked very nice.  On the way back he met a fox on the towpath.

Stanwick Lakes

Stretching swan


FOTRN Stanwick Lakes

Mon 10th June  Irthlingborough

A wet day, raining almost continually. We didn’t move from the boat and didn’t take any photos. We caught up on a few admin things.

No boating today

Tue 11th June  Irthlingborough

Another wet day, although it brightened up a little in the late afternoon, too late to set off anywhere. James went for a short walk to see what was happening at the lock. He discovered that a lot of water was pouring over the lock gates, and the downstream landing stage was under water. There was also a red board out advising boaters not to navigate.

Lock gates

Downstream landing stage

No boating

Wed 12th June  Irthlingborough to Denford

A boat came up through the lock mid-morning, and we asked what the river was like. “Fast flowing but OK” they said. James went to look at the landing stage, which was now visible, but the water was still high. The red board was still out, so we decided not to go yet.

Landing stage now visible

Instead we went shopping and discovered a new Aldi close by which was not on our map. We walked into the village and had lunch in a café, before visiting the church, which has an unusual tower.

St Peters Church

Church tower

As we returned to the boat, an Environment Agency River Inspector was there to take down the red board. We were OK to go. We checked the weather forecast, and there was no rain forecast until about 6pm. We thought we could get to the FOTRN site at Woodford at least, and maybe further to Thrapston. So we set off at 2pm.

Looking back at the mooring at Irthlingborough

An egret was there to see us go

Stanwick Lakes footbridge

Upper Ringstead Lock had some work boats on the lock bollards, so we had to go ashore across them. This was the first of the locks that have a manually operated guillotine gate. This operated by turning a large heavy flywheel, which needs many turns as it is low geared.

Work boats

As we left the lock, we noticed a marina on our right, which was not on our map – Blackthorn Marina. We needed to empty a cassette, and were looking for Willy Watt Marina, which was marked on our map a little further up on the right. We came to a railway bridge, where the waterway forked, with a mill stream and some moored boats on the left, and an arrow pointing us towards the lock to the right. We took the right fork as instructed and used the lock. There we found a sign for Willy Watt Marina. We had missed the turn, but there had been no sign. And they were on the left, not the right!

Keep right

Willy Watt Marina

We phoned them up and asked if we could trundle the cassette round on the road. They agreed and said the elsan point was behind the cottage. When we got there with the cassettes there was more than one cottage. Thankfully some helpful people showed us where the elsan point was.

We continued on through a section with several bends and overhanging trees as the rain started, two hours earlier than forecast. We saw the FOTRN site at Woodford, but decided it was unsafe in high flow conditions, being just a grassy slope on the outside of a bend. Woodford Lock had another wheel, even more difficult to operate when it was wet.

Low Willow Tree

Boating in the rain at Woodford Lock

We continued to Denford Lock, and after passing a weir, we spotted a place that looked suitable as a mooring. We needed to use mooring pins, but we were in the lock cut, and there was little flow, and little danger of rising water levels, at it all went over the weirs.

We put up the hood, and mopped up the stern as best we could.

Moored above Denford Lock

4 locks, 6 miles. Dep 1400, arr 1715 including 25 minutes at Willy Watt Marina.

Next: probably a full day on Thursday sitting out the rain, and hoping to get to Thrapston on Friday. Our target of Oundle by Sunday looks unlikely now.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Northampton to Wellingborough

Thu 6th Jun  Northampton to Doddington

We set off as planned with St Brendan at about 9am. The first lock, Becketts Park Lock, was padlocked, so our Abloy key came into use for the first time.

The river was quite wide after this, and we passed under the A45. We turned right into a much smaller channel. Fortunately we were ready, as the signs were minimal.

Wide River with St Brendan following

A45 bridge

Hard to see signs

A closer look in case you missed them

Rush Mills and Abington Locks were not padlocked, but all three locks had vee lock gates at both ends. After Abington we cruised through the flood barrage, which is closed when the Nene is in flood. A wide river section followed, with Weston Favell Lock at the end, the first lock with a guillotine gate.

St Brendan leaving Abington Lock

Through the flood barrage

Wide river again

Weston Favell Lock

Last time we were here, in 2011, we completely missed the turning to Billing Aquadrome when we went downstream, and we missed it again when came upstream two months later. This time we were looking for it, and we now realise why we missed it. The channel was what looked like a mill stream, with no signs at all. It is not even marked on the map in the Imray Guide.

The bridge next to the entrance to Billing Aquadrome

Whiston Lock

We had a mooring pencilled on our map from last time. We realised that this was now a FORTN mooring, and we were planning to moor there. When we arrived, we discovered that White Mills Marina had been built on the spot, so where once there was a peaceful meadow, there was now a busy marina. We decided to move on. A boat called Tempo asked to share the lock with us, before they realised that there were two boats.

White Mills Marina

White Mills Lock

We continued to share locks with St Brendan as far as Earls Barton, where we managed to moor with difficulty, due to lots of bankside vegetation. We could have made good use of a longer plank. After a few hours we decided to move on.

Near Earls Barton Lock

Precariously moored

We moved on through two more locks to just after Doddington Lock, where there was a FORTN mooring. Water Otter was there, and they moved along for us. Thank you, Frank and Sandy. This was a delightful peaceful mooring, created by the Friends of the River Nene.

It was a lovely sunny evening, and we walked across fields to the village, following the Nene Way footpath. We had a following of cows at one point. We had a delightful meal at the Stags Head.

Doddington Lock and Hardwater Mill

Followed by a herd of cows

The Nene Way

The Stags Head

We had stormy skies later, with beautiful sunshine, making dramatic effects.

Sunshine and dark skies

We were sad to hear that our friend and partner in Canal Ministries, Lin Atwill, had passed away today. Another friend, David Clark, passed away two days earlier, on Tuesday. Our prayers go out for Peter Atwill and Anne Clark as they come to terms with their loss.

11 locks, 9 miles. Dep 0855 arr 1330. Dep 1715 arr 1820.

Fri 7th Jun  Doddington

There was heavy rain today, as expected, so we stayed where we were.  Water Otter departed. Tempo arrived to take their place. James was very groggy because he had taken some pills for neuralgia, which he sometimes gets, so he slept most of the morning.

We prepared some songs for David Clark’s memorial service, as we have been asked to take part.

No boating today. No photos either.

Sat 8th Jun  Doddington to Wellingborough

Manor Farm mooring, Great Doddington

We had more heavy rain this morning, and we monitored the weather forecast carefully. In mid afternoon we set off to negotiate two more locks.

Wollaston Lock was standard, with a guillotine gate at the bottom, and two gates at the top. Boaters are meant to leave the locks empty, so they are usually set against a boat coming downstream.

Wollaston Lock

Upper Wellingborough Lock was different, with two sets of “normal” gates, and no guillotine.

Upper Wellingborough Lock

Approaching Wellingborough

We stopped on the visitor moorings in Wellingborough, where there are bollards, and deep water. There is a factory opposite which makes a lot of continual noise from pumps or fans or similar. If we didn’t want to go to church here tomorrow, we would move on a bit further.

There are facilities here, and James emptied a cassette. The water and rubbish can wait until tomorrow.

Moored in Wellingborough

2 locks, 2 miles. Dep 1455, arr 1605.

Next: a visit to a Vineyard Church tomorrow, before moving on to Rushden Lakes. Then further downstream on our way to Peterborough.