Oundle to Peterborough: 26¼ miles, 11 locks
The River Nene passes Oundle in a wide loop. It took 1 hour and 25 minutes from leaving Oundle Marina to reaching Oundle Wharf within sight of the Waitrose supermarket. (Here in 2018 a lesson was learned that an affluent area does not necessarily have a taxi service… For explanation, see here).
It was 2 miles further on at Cotterstock Lock that a two man crew of an Environment Agency open boat were ready to rise in the lock. They were ensuring that signage on the river was clear and visible (perhaps they hadn’t done a shift further downstream nearer Wansford, more later…)
River scenery is still peppered with views of fine churches; there’s the large chancel at St Andrew’s, Cotterstock and of course the stunning lantern tower of the church at Fotheringhay.
There was company on the mooring beside Fotheringhay Castle mound – plenty of sheep, the sun-loving wildlife-watchers met previously on Manor Farm moorings – and the ghosts of course of Richard III (born here) and of Mary Queen of Scots (imprisoned and executed here). Artist’s impression of castle as it might have appeared in about 1380.
Platinum Jubilee weekend was approaching and the floral arrangements inside the beautiful church were noticeably in red, white and blue. Elsewhere in the village bunting and flags suggested parties to come…
Before departure from Fotheringhay the Captain positioned his large Jubilee Union flag in his umbrella holder at the stern. Castle visitors waved from the Mound while happy campers waved from the neighbouring campsite. ”Happy Jubilee,” one lady called. It was such a beautiful day – blue, blue skies, the Colour was being Trooped in London (regular updates provided via WhatsApp from Senior Niece and Baby Sis), walkers waved from the Nene Way, parachutists were being dropped from a Cesna aircraft and paddleboarders picnicked on the end of a lock landing at Warmington Lock.
In a rural landscape the largest structure was a very long greenhouse at Warmington…
Twists and turns, twists and turns and then there’s pretty Yarwell Lock, on a corner. Cleddau provided entertainment for some spectators. “I’m videoing all of this,” said a young lad as Cleddau descended in the lock. There’s a holiday park on the meadows below Yarwell Lock – more paddleboarders and plenty of caravans and holiday lodges.
There was a momentary distraction a little later – just looking at the very smart riverside houses (What…? Really? A bath up there right by the window?) – and concentration lost, the channel sign obscured by foliage was missed… (Had the EA crew who were clearing signs not been here?) There was some serious reversing and sharp turning to make a recovery.
There’s always relief when a safe and easy mooring can be found – and the pontoon below the Nene Valley Railway Station was free.
As the sun continued to shine passengers waved from the train, the starboard side of the boat got a wash, bunting was tied round the grab rails – and from the railway station café a lunch was bought, appropriately a Coronation chicken sandwich and a slice of Victoria sponge…!
There were plenty of cruisers lining the offside at Peterborough Cruising Club and nearly a touchy moment at Alwalton Lock. An impatient boat waiting to enter the lock cruised in as Cleddau was still leaving the chamber.
Keep alert – paddleboarders, kayakers, a dog in the water, a speeding cruiser and plenty of walkers waving from the Nene Way path. Sometimes there is hardly time to wonder at the reasons for boat names and messages…
“S’pposed to be at 1 o’clock from the railway bridge…”
An explanation that this boat was navigating from Macclesfield to Bedford cut no mustard. “You’ve got to wait… Can’t go under the railway bridge ‘til one o’clock.”
It was 1215.
The Captain put the bow in the shallows (better view at last of the waterlilies) and turned off the engine. Ahead of the stewarding boat three narrowboats turned round and headed off upstream to lose time.
turn after the bridge before Stanground, cruise back and do it all again… Spectators waved joyfully from the bank – and a pre-teen boy called out “Remember Ukraine.” And he called it again. What a mixture of emotion – jubilation for the Jubilee, sombre thoughts for those in the shadow of Russia.
Cleddau’s crew had put up a brave show, gatecrashers with style, glad of her flags and bunting, a tribute to the Queen – and a sort of practice for the Bedford River Festival…
What next? Two shopping trips to nearby Asda, boat servicing and a battle royal with the wind to tie up the boat for the rest of the weekend…
Trip stats since leaving Victoria Pit: 244¾ miles, 175 locks, 6 swing bridges, 4 tunnels and 1 cow
Height drop from the Macclesfield summit: 416 feet
Height rise since Trent Lock: 311¾ feet
Height drop from GU Leicester summit: 347¾ feet
Queries about the Tudor rose: now 6
2022 Monkton Moments*- 4
(Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections)