The Big Town Tour - first stop
18 minutes ago
|It has been done. This is a photo from the Camboaters website|
|The Duck prepares to exit Jesus Lock and onto the Middle River|
|We approach St John's College, where the lowest bridge,|
St John's Kitchen Bridge was our biggest worry in terms of air draft,
with its height given at 2.07m on the Cam Conservancy website.
|Soon we were under the famous Bridge Of Sighs at St Johns,|
and jostling with punts, which were out in force on this glorious sunny day.
(photo: R. Herzig)
|We made it under St John's Kitchen Bridge!|
Everyone took photos of this momentous occasion.
From here on in, all we have to worry about are the rogue punts!
(photo: R. Herzig)
|James steers expertly under the Kitchen Bridge,|
but has to duck in order to make it! Plenty of room.
(photo: P. Garsed)
|Another of the Kitchen Bridge|
|Clare Bridge (photo: R. Herzig)|
|Clare College, James' alma mater (photo: C. Houldcroft)|
|Lyra was very good. She kept out of the way in the bedroom mostly.|
Jackie took this photo of her when were at the Mill Pond.
(photo: J. Witts)
|This is where we are at the moment. Right in the centre of all the action.|
|A Jesus tub|
|A Clare tub (with Clare Hall tubbees) in front of St Catharines|
|A Cantabs Junior quad and a Bridge boat get involved!|
|And where was Lyra all day? Snoozing in the sun!|
|Talk to Frank!|
The Middle River is the part of the River Cam that runs through the backs of the Colleges. In the summer it is used almost exclusively for punting. At its upper limit there is a weir and boats cannot pass unless they can be hauled up the special ramp which is fitted with metal rollers. At its lower limit is the lock at Jesus Green which is normally kept padlocked.
It is not widely known, but in the winter (from 31 October to 31 March) it is permitted to navigate a powered vessel along the Middle River. The fee is set in the 1922 River Cam Conservancy Act at one shilling and sixpence. In practice, you simply ring up the Conservators (the phone number is displayed at Jesus Green Lock) and explain that you wish to pass through the lock; they check that your licence is valid, swear you to secrecy and then tell you the combination of the padlocks. They don't ask for the 1/6d. The Conservators like to know what boats are above the lock because they sometimes drain that part of the river so buildings by the river can be repaired. As long as they know you are there, they can warn you in advance.
There are many shallows in the river, particularly beyond Silver Street Bridge.
There are ten beautiful bridges in the mile of river from Jesus Lock to Coe Fen. Some of the bridges are quite small and some are very close together. On your way upstream things are fairly straightforward but on the way back, travelling with the current, things happen rather fast. It's best not to attempt to navigate the backs after a period of heavy rain.
The Mathematical bridge at Queens College is often said to have been designed by Newton. In fact Newton had been dead for twenty years when it was erected in 1749; it was his student Etheridge who deserves the credit. Every piece of wood was in compression and the structure should have held together simply by its own weight. It is said that the iron pins were put in after they had fished all the pieces out of the river.
At the upper end of the Middle River you emerge from under Silver Street Bridge into Coe Fen where you can moor on the common opposite Charles Darwin's house where "The Origin of Species" was written. In priciple, you can continue to along the tiny stream next to Darwin College and reach the Mill Pond. However, I don't think it is deep enough to take a narrowboat.
There is no towpath on the Middle River (historically, the horses waded along a causeway which was built in the middle of the river by the Conservators to break the University's stranglehold over waterway). You can turn a boat in the weir pool at Coe Fen. Keep to the south side of this weir pool - it is very shallow on the north side. When passing Darwin College keep well to the north where the channel is deepest.
|Looking back towards Ambleside and Windermere|
|View from the top of Red Screes|
|Cloud touches the summit of Dove Crag|
|The cave is at the top of the highest crag|
|A wet morning at Sykeside|
|In Ambleside, the buses have bike racks!|
The next item on the TNC Tour program has finally been done care of Honorary TNC Member John Chapman and the TNCFA nb Frogmoore II. John's boat is marooned on a sensible bit of water that is not closed to navigation - The River Cam. We have both been on standby for the last few weeks waiting for Cam to not be in flood and also to fit in with John's business commitments. At 13.30 Thur 28/03/01 Neil received the *GO* e-mail.
We started off at 15.30. After spitting with rain on the way up in the car, we actually had a rain free journey, well until the last part of the journey back! The paddle gear on the lock was of a strange design, a windy up screw affair attached to a really tall but narrow steel paddle, which is held in metal runners. We were soon through and had a slow but uneventful journey up to the next weir by Scudamore's punts.
We passed two Japanese crewed punts, who scuttled for cover on seeing us coming! Beyond Scudamore's, at 16.30 John went for the wind, but found that even with the level up, there was still not much more that 2ft depth even in centre channel!!! Frogmoore II is very shallow draughted, only around 18". The bow came round OK, but the stern was still aground. After a bit of poling and welly the stern came loose and we made a rather hasty retreat past Scudamore's, to gain steerage for the bridge, which is at rather an angle. . . . Frogmoore II's handrails were saved from a scraping, by the conveniently placed "shock absorber" punts, rather stupidly moored under the bridge . . .well no harm done!
We arrived back at Jesus Green Lock rather quickly, but we were annoyed to find it was empty, as another narrowboat moored above had just gone down stream. We were soon through and at the nearby sanitary station and had a good, well matured dunny dumping, wash the boat and fill up the water tank session. The free self pump-out kit was in disarray, having been swamped by recent floods. A notice said that it should soon be restored to working condition. The last half of this was done in increasing rain. At 17.50 we shoved off, for the 15 minute trip back to John's temporary moorings.