Monday, 26 July 2010

Day Four: Whittlesey Warriors

March to Whittlesey

14 miles, 1 lock

River Nene Old Course, Whittlesey Dyke

4 hours

Today saw a short hop of a cruise, as we can't start the assault on the Nene until Amy finishes work tomorrow afternoon, so we planned on stopping in Whittlesey where there's a train station with services to and from Cambridge.

We were awoken by the chiming town-hall clock at 6am, and Amy left March for work just after the next set of chimes at 7. It was quite like living in Trumpton...

I headed off at 9am for the sani station and waterpoint just beyond the town bridge, but unfortunately they need a Middle Level-only key that we don't have. We must buy one for the way back! I carried on to Fox's boatyard on the outskirts of town, frequently spinning the prop into astern to clear the bladefuls of weed. The level was down 6 inches or so, and the prop often fouled. Progress was slow but steady.

When turning into the marina, I happened to come across nb Rowanberry, who shared our previous moorings! Andreas was making the turn out of the marina as I turned in, and we'll probably meet up on the Nene and catch up.

Once inside, I breasted up to a shell that was in the process of being fitted out, and had the tank and a jerrycan filled. Not the cheapest diesel at £1.02 per litre, with no self-declaration permitted- which some would declare to be frowned upon by HMRC- but there's no alternatives! Maybe next time, we'll fill up on the Lark, where apparently there is a riverside retailer with far more canal-like prices.

Once out of the marina the on the Old Course of the Nene, the water deepened and widened and the amount of weed in the centre of the channel lessened, so progress was much faster. It was only after coming onto the Whittlesey Dyke, which is completely man-made, that it became shallow and weedy once more.

Tumbledown bridge- the Duck is on the Greenwich Meridian at this point! Lyra in the saloon was in the Western hemisphere, whilst I was in the eastern.

I put on some suitably uplifting music- an iPod is a great companion when singlehanding on navigations with high floodbanks and not many views!- and eventually came into Whittlesey itself, where I helped a Fox's dayboat through Ashline lock before finding the special Middle Level windlass (it has an extended head to fit the paddlegear) and locking the Duck through.

Once through the lock, the moorings came up very soon and I came alongside just as the first drops of rain began to fall. Good timing! I rewarded myself with a cup of tea- it's impossible to have tea when singlehanding unless you stop, have a thermos, or a backcabin range!- and headed into the town for a look around.

The highlight of the evening was the visit of Jim and Sarah, the Warriors- or even the Chertsey Warriors as they ought to be known, perhaps. They arrived by car and enjoyed tea and cake aboard, having admired Amy's signwriting, before we all headed into town for a pubcrawl. The "real" pubs were nearly deserted, which was fine, with many draught real ales (good for the Warriors) and several nice ciders (good for Amy and I!). The locals were all in the Wetherspoon, packed in several deep around the bar...

We had a very enjoyable evening, talking over engine thermostats, sidecloths for big woolwiches, diesel selling- but we didn't talk about toilets once! That must be a record.


  1. Enjoy your trip.

    I suspect that refusing to allow boaters to self declare allows them to declare a standard 60/40 split to HMRC and consequently increase their profits.

  2. (good for Amy and I!)

    Amy and me, James :p