Cruising slowly out of White Mills everything felt great. The water in the marina is clear and deep, Seren’s prop had been cleared, the cooling system was gurgling nicely. And then we came out onto the river. Or ditch. Shallow and very weedy. There are six locks from White Mills to Wellingborough and I was down the weed hatch seven times in that distance. Two of the locks, Wollaston and Upper Wellingborough were almost impossible to enter such was the thickness of weed that had piled up in front of the gates.
Downstream of Wellingborough the river was a bit deeper, the weeds further away. Only two more weed hatch operations during the afternoon.
The Nene locks are more varied on the upper reaches than I remembered. I mentioned the three ‘conventional’ locks in Northampton yesterday. After that there are eight normal Nene locks with electrically operated guillotine bottom gates. The Upper and Lower Wellingborough locks resemble thos at Northants though with better paddle gear. Ditchford Lock has a curved guillotine that rotates up/down in curved grooves in the lock walls. The only advantage I can see is that the lock tower is lower, below the level of nearby trees so perhaps it was installed to mollify some VIP who didn’t want his view spoiled. Higham Ferrars is another poining door lock and below that Upper Ringstead is the first of the notorious flywheel operated guillotines. Given that the fall in water level was about 0.5m raising and lowering several tonnes of steel lock gate seemed a lot of effort to little point.
Woodford lock is the next flywheel lock. I was just beginning to lower the guillotine when a bloke moored below the lock came to talk. He told me that the next lock, Denford, was closed, and there are already two boats down on the mooring. He himself was doing a spring clean before heading back up. I stayed above the lock for a hour or so until he came up leaving the gates set for me. I am currently moored just below Woodford. Tomorrow I phone EA and find out what’s happening.