MONDAY 2ND TO THURSDAY 5TH JULY 2012
Another early alarm call; 6am this time and hopefully the last one for a while, but I was able to relax when after walking Duggie to the bank of the Ouse I saw that the grounded boat in front of Denver Sluice had disappeared, obviously floated off on the full tide and through the lock, thankfully we wouldn’t be required to help get it off the mud bank.
Paul welcomed us into the Salters Lode Lock at about 7.30 and as the guillotine gate raised, Paul asked us to wait just the far side, whilst he lowered the guillotine and locked Agonoka through. Shortly afterward the gate went up again and Angonoka followed us out onto the river, I applied full throttle and SKYY heeled over as she turned upstream, the throttle remained at full as we ploughed up against the ebbing tide, moving over to the far right as instructed. Eventually I caught sight of the Denver lock keeper as the grey concrete of the sluices loomed up in front of us, thankfully at last his hand went up and I could start the turn that would have us crossing only a few feet in front of the orange barrage. We came to a halt at right angles to the lock entrance and it took a bit of ahead and astern to get the bow inside and the rest of SKYY easily followed. Don at the helm of Agonoka quickly got in alongside us, job done!
The services are around the far side of the sluice and yet again the pumpout was not working, that’s the third one in a row, Peterborough, March and now Denver, it’s a good thing that we now mostly use our Elsan loo or we would literally be in the s**t.
Whilst we were filling with water a collie dog, followed by a lady with a cute puppy suddenly appeared. It took me a few seconds to realise that it was Sue from Retirement No Problem. We both knew that we were in the same area and Sue saw us as we come through Denver Lock, we didn’t hear her boats hooter or see her wave, so she rushed round to say hi, that was lovely, especially considering that they were imminently due to go through Denver Lock on way to Salters Lode. Well done Sue for getting 7 out of 10 marks from Paul for navigating your way into the very tricky entrance to Salters Lode Lock.
The weather wasn’t good, so before we set off up the River Great Ouse we decided to turn off onto the little River Wissey and find a pleasant mooring. As it was now raining steadily we decided to stop at the village of Hilgay whilst Don and Judy, made of sterner stuff carried onto Stoke Ferry which is almost at the end of the navigation.
This delightful river reminded us of the Ashby Canal and like that, it is only really possible to moor at specific mooring points, here they have been provided either by the EA or GOBA, Great Ouse Boating Association. Annual membership of GOBA costs £20 and allows members free mooring, having become members we would be able to avail ourselves of these moorings. It stopped raining long enough in the evening to explore Hilgay, it didn’t take long, but the lengthy gravel drive up to the church is lined with sixty splendid lime trees and would be wonderful for a bride in horse drawn carriage on a sunny day.
First thing in morning we moved on to join up with J & D at Stoke Ferry. On the way we passed the British Sugar factory at Wissington and then through substantial lakes before being held up by a barrier across the river where some EA guys were doing a survey of the fish population. This river is obviously very healthy; the fish are clearly visible through the crystal clean water, a lovely contrast to the decimated River Nene.
Shortly after the guillotine flood control we met up with J & D at the GOBA mooring at Stoke Ferry, they are right beside a busy road bridge and the immaculate caravan site, alongside, had very strict rules; no children, OK, dogs on lead at all times, not so OK. So after lunch we turned at Stringside drain and in convoy we headed back.
There are more isolated GOBA moorings close to the junction with the Ouse, and this was ideal for us and the dogs. The table and chairs were set up for afternoon drinks and even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits. The next morning the dogs wore themselves out chasing around the woods and we collectively decided that we would stay here for a couple of days.
I took the opportunity, between the rain showers, to change the oil, oil and fuel filters, this time ensuring that the old oil filter seal was removed from the engine block and unlike my last oil and filter change, there were no oil leaks. Jacquie took the opportunity to order and book our first Tesco delivery for Friday at Little Ouse Moorings on Brandon Creek, fingers crossed that works out. After all that hard work I cooled off in the river and we enjoyed the sunset from the front of SKYY.