Oundle to Peterborough isn’t that hard but the extremely hot weather didn’t help.
The map shows an EA water point at Fotheringhay so that was my first target. Fotheringhay is a very pretty and posh village with plenty of mooring space. All of it chargeable, £5 per night, £2.50 short stop and even £2 to take a canoe out of the water. There’s a half mile stretch of signs setting this out.
Right next to the bridge EA own (or lease?) a tiny patch of land, about 3m long frontage on the river and maybe 5m back, on which stands their water point. Obviously it’s too short to moor anything longer than a kayak so whoever it is owns the moorings will gracioulsy allow one to over lap for as long as it takes to fill up. A sign warns that if you don’t move straight away you will be charged for mooring.
Just to make life even more tricky the plot is fenced and gated and there are no mooring rings or bollards just a steep, nettle-covered bank.
There was just one final flywheel operated lock and as I approached I could see official looking vans and people grouped around the guillotine gate end. Surely not another closure?
In fact much better, the guys were there to strim and mow the grass around the lock, but they aren’t allowed to do it whilst there is a boat using the lock, so hurry things up they did most of the lock winding. Great contrast to last year when contractors, not EA staff, strimmed long wet grass while Seren was in a lock and pretty much covered her. I told them about the Fotheringhay nettles and they said they’d go and strim there too. Amazing.
Closer to Peterborough, where the Ferry Meadows park starts there were groups of teens and families enjoying the river. Some of the teens are a bit clueless, one bunch of lads, seeing me approach spread themselves out across the channel so there wasn’t a gap big enough to pass. I knocked Seren out of gear so at least no-one would get mangled by the prop and drifted with the wind and current toward them. They parted and let me pass but then swam round behind making me very nervous about engaging forward gear again.
At a lock a bunch of teenage girls were sunbathing on the lock surround. It was one of EA’s ‘special’ locks where the landing stage is on the opposite side to the control box so as often do I pulled in on the ‘wrong’ side avoiding the girls and a walk over the lock. A couple came around to talk to me. They wanted to know if they could swim in the lock once I’d filled it. I pointed out I’d be putting the boat in then emptying the lock so it’d be dangerous. Then they asked if I could leave the control box open when I left so they could refill it. I felt mean in refusing but I’d feel worse if one had drowned. They took my refusal well and went back to sprawling on the grass.
Finally I turned into the cut leading to Thorpe Meadows where I’d arranged to meet Linda for a meal at The Boathouse. She got lost, apparently the signage is terrible and the meal wasn’t that good, but nice to see her. Loads of people, families, teens, young men and women (mostly Polish I think) were on the landing stage or in the water. Very friendly and co-operative though and they’d all drifted away by bedtime.