Fotheringhay – Wansford – Ferry Meadows
Departure on Thursday morning was delayed when the Tentatrice Boat Dog decided he wanted to stay
– for him it seemed far better to chase rabbits up and down the castle mound at Fotheringhay than to endure further deck duty!
First lock was Warmington Lock. Across the field at Warmington Mill
the affluent in these parts come for their Fired Earth fix or to dream of an Aga installation.
Already the Nene Valley had seemed to change its character – broader,
flatter and the river often wider. A fallen tree a bit further downstream took some deft tiller negotiation. Often at locks a notice will be displayed to warn of upcoming hazards – a notice about this tree, though, was only espied afterwards, at the next lock.
Then to Elton Lock, walked to on Wednesday. Just as well the Tentatrice crew had had sighting of it as its arrangement of bridges and weirs upstream
make for quite a distance between the lock landing and the lock operating cabinet.
On under Elton Bridge – and momentarily it seemed busy,
one boat approaching, one boat moored up and Tentatrice behind…
Wider, wider the river becomes.
It approaches Yarwell Lock, boats moored above
– and caravans below..
and flocks of grey geese
soon gave way to new housing, but housing on a rather grand scale;
a private marina anyone? A grand frontage?
Last lock of the day was Wansford Lock, private patch, apparently, for a feisty family of swans. All water was their water as they hissed and threatened during the boats’ mooring up
and moving off.
Onwards, past Stibbington Boatyard – here a sleek slipper launch
was moored against a …..? (Can anyone classify this boat?)
Cruising along the Nene requires a spirit of optimism about where next to moor. Preferred plan was the pontoon below Wansford Station, if it was unoccupied. Plan B was bankside moorings a little upstream. As Cleddau’s bow nosed under Wansford Station’s Bridge hand signals relayed the news back: Yes, the pontoon’s free. So, a quiet couple of train-free nights were spent below Wansford Station,
home of the Nene Valley Steam Railway –
and the passing canoeists were no trouble at all.
Saturday: “And is Boatwif better today? How is she feeling?” called an approaching boater just after Alwaton Lock on Saturday morning. What? How could anyone know? Aah, the Tentatrice blog…
“Oh, that’s me, I’m Boatwif, much better thanks.” Friday had passed in a horizontal haze, huge, red boiled sweet of a face, a shivery body, glued up eyes – insect bite attack again. Since a similar event at Uppermill on the Huddersfield Narrow in 2012 a packet of emergency antihistamine “bombs” has travelled with Boatwif. Unable to stagger the length of the boat on Friday, she was back in action on Saturday.
What more beautiful place to live than Water Newton Lock…
Onward, under hot blue skies, past reedy banks and Peterborough Cruising Club boats,
past fishing groups,
waving at backpacked walkers on the Nene Valley Way,
at riders on horseback and
at spectators by Milton Ferry Bridge.
Then came the 120º turn into Ferry Meadows.
With no hint of what is ahead the channel leads to a wide expanse of water,
“It’s chokker block in Ferry Meadows,” the blog reading boater who had enquired after Boatwif’s health had warned.
There are two pontoons in Overton Lake, much loved by local Yacht Club members on a jaunt from their base a bit further downstream. After a polite request to the cruiser crew on the first pontoon space was made for the narrow boats to breast up, their sterns well out into the lake. Lunch-time passed, boats moved off – and Cleddau and Tentatrice could settle into their own comfortable moorings.
Ferry Meadows is a wonderful country park created around three lakes caused by sand and gravel extraction. Currently 25 large display boards are celebrating the park’s 25th anniversary.
Visitors can travel around on foot, by bike, segway or miniature railway. Not far away is the Ferry Meadows Station on the Nene Valley line
– and at 1550 in drew a steam train packed with hot day trippers. The engine, spotted at Wansford Station on Friday, was the black USA steam loco,
brought to the UK in 1942 to support the US Army. It had been designed to operate on European railways after the D-Day invasion.
At 6pm the crowds around the park are thinning now. Soon there’ll be just the boats and the multitude of water birds.
Tomorrow – to Peterborough.
Total distance to Bedford: 343 miles
Distance so far: 197 miles
Total number of locks to Bedford: 143
Locks so far: 119
Additional stat: Cleddau is currently at 20 feet above sea level, having dropped 498 feet since leaving Higher Poynton (Macclesfield Canal)