Day 4 – Wet

Set off from Whittlesea early and got to Stanground about an hour before my 10.15 booking for the lock. Did some ‘housework’, tea drinking and reading. Carl and Samson, booked for 10.30 arrived just I was going in the lock so both boats being small we locked through together.

We stopped at Peterborough Embankment. They went shopping while I emptied the WC, took on water, emptied the bin and failed to re-fit the corner fender. Carl helped and it’s half-on which is better than nothing.

Last year when I went to Crick the WC emptying sluice was being refitted. When I came back three weeks later it was done. Today it is disgusting. The sluice room looks like no-one has cleaned it for a year and inevitably there are splashes. After a year, a lot of splashes. Even before I got in the smell was pretty bad. Coming out I realised why. Everything I had carefully poured down the sluice was now flowing down the path. I reported it to some council guys who were emptying bins and wielding litter pickers, the leader took a photo and promised to report it when they got back to the depot. Actual council workers, not contractors. I thought they’d all been outsourced. Hopefully they’ll do something about it. I’ll be back to check in 7 weeks or so!

While we were working on the fender it started to rain, and stopped around Yarwell about 6 hours later. I’ve stopped for the night on a ‘wild mooring’ ie a meadow without permission. It’s remote and hidden by woodland I doubt anyone will see me. Carl and Samson have pressed on to stop somewhere more civilised where they can arrange for someone to collect them. I’ll probably overtake them in the morning before they’ve returned.

No pictures today, everything has been grey, boring and wet. Hope it’s bright tomorrow morning Fotheringhay bridge is worth a photo or two.

Day 3 and it’s going well

Last night was very cold. I went to bed early wearing most of my clothes, with the rest on top of the sleeping bag.  Slept well though and woke early determined to get an early start. Today was bright and clear but still cold. Left Outwell at 06.30 wearing 6 layers of clothes and got to Marmont Priory lock at 07.00. Opened the top slackers (paddles) to fill it. Noticed the bottom ones were padlocked and assumed the EA key would fit. Doesn’t.  Waited ’til 07.30 then rang the lock keeper’s bell. Waited a bit. Rang again. Found phone number.  Voice mail. Left message. Tried again. Called Middle Level Commisioners’ office. Not open ’til 08.30. Keeper arrived 08.20. She’d slept through the ringing. And the phone calls. Left at 08.48.

After that things went surprisingly well. I got to Ashline lock about 12.05 just as a narrow boat was leaving. Better yet there were two more waiting to come down and their crews were happy to work the lock for me to speed things up. I was out in 10 minutes. One of the blokes off one of the boats said Stanground was about an hour and a quarter. He was right. I tied up at 1.30pm, an hour early. Had lunch then hauled the sunlounger out onthe bank for a kip.

Roused by the lock keeper at 2.30 and locked through. Stopped at the sanitary station in Peterborough. Last year when we brought Seren across from Pershore we stopped at the same place.  The sluice for Elsan toilets is part of a public WC, which was surrounded by temporary barriers. Eventually we realised there was access round the side where there was a gap in the barrier. Twelve months later the fence is still there and there was one guy with his head down an access point . I checked the sluice was accessible and found the door open. There’s a new sluice and a new drain and a one metre gap between them. No pipe. I emptied the loo down the pipe.

Went shopping in Peterborough.  Bread and milk almost impossible to find but could have my nails done and hair cut twenty times over.

Not a great place to stay long, but a mile or so upstream is the start of a long riverside park inc Ferry Meadows, Orton Meadows and tbe bit I’m in called Thorpe Wood which has its own arm off the river with a landing stage and pub. According to my itinary from Canal Plan this is where I should stop on the fourth night, so I’m a day ahead. But there’s a lot of locks on the Nene and the N’hants arm, so that’ll slow me down.