SUNDAY 26TH TO FRIDAY 31ST AUGUST 2012
Ahhhh! That’s better, back on the river, lots of bends to keep you guessing, willow trees trailing their leaves in the water, old multi arched bridges, and mellow mills and the hoot of a steam whistle. Shortly after passing under Peterborough High Road Bridge and the railway bridges, on the left hand side is the Peterborough terminus of the Nene Valley Railway, unfortunately from our position down on the river we couldn’t see the source of the hooting, but we would later.
After three locks and nine miles we arrived at the railway bridge at Sutton, the map showed the EA mooring to be on the far side of the bridge and it may have been once, but now there was a floating pontoon just before. As we walked up from the river Wansford Station, level crossing and signal box were immediately in front of us and then followed all the fun of a size train set. Thomas and friends were in full steam on this bank holiday weekend as we joined the many other train spotters wandering around the station and sidings.
The next morning, Monday, we walked Duggie down the rail track to where they do demonstrations of mail bag pick up and drops offs, in fact in the sidings, they have the last surviving Royal Mail coach that was involved in The Great Train Robbery back in the 60’s.
We passed several more picturesque lock side mills before we stopped for the night just after Ashton Lock. Here we met up again with Ken and Linda, who Jacquie had firat met whilst I was in hospital in Selby in 2010. We walked into thatched village of Ashton, we didn’t visit the Chequered Skipper, but it has a good reputation: apparently the village is owned by the Rothschild family and is an immaculately maintained estate village.
This part of the river is very lovely with several church spires or towers visible at any one time. By Tuesday lunch time we moored at the bottom of the garden of The Kings Head pub at Wadenhoe. We were seduced by the menu and went for a full three course lunch, the deserts were especially delicious and we slept the afternoon away and didn’t eat another thing until breakfast on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning we wandered around, Wadenhoe and it is delightful, in one of the paddocks a couple of pretty Alpacas regarded us over the fence. The village is a trust as the last squire George Ward Hunt died without an heir and it is again, beautifully maintained.
Unfortunately although the sun was shining brightly this morning the forecast was for heavy rain showers later and we had the notorious Islip footbridge to get under. Before we left Wadenhoe moorings I filled the water tank to the top of its 450 lt, capacity, calculating that this was equal to six fellas sitting in the bow and got away in the sunshine. Sure enough just before Islip Lock an iron footbridge seemingly blocked our way, I had been advised to keep well over to the right as supposedly there is a little more head room here. I sighted along the cratch cover and decided it would just clear and it did by ½ an inch, however an overhanging tree stopped our exit and I had to back up and go though at a slight angle, but we made it. I had seriously been considering dismantling the cratch and was very relieved that this wasn’t necessary.
I thought this was an end to our headroom problems, until the first arch of the medieval Nine Arched Thrapston Bridge came into view, I thought we would never get through that, but thankfully as the other arches came into view I realised that the navigation arch was much bigger. As we began to exit the arch I had to turn hard right to reach the mooring, even then bow was on the opposite bank, leaving just enough room for the stern to clear the bridge parapet, but we were soon snugly tied up before the rain came down.
We sat out the rain on Thursday, with other boats moored alongside us waiting for the water level to drop before attempting the footbridge, that made me feel really smug about pushing on yesterday. On a bright and warm Friday I decided to clear out the engine bay, rub down the rusty bits, prime and top coat it all. The forecast was no rain, so I felt comfortable leaving tools and paint pots on the grass beside the boat whilst the paint dried overnight, the weather had other plans and it started to rain, so very hurriedly we bundled it all under the cratch.
Marilyn and Brian joined us for the weekend on Friday evening in time to enjoy an excellent meal in the Woolpack pub in Islip before we welcomed them back on to Skyy for a farewell cruise.