HEREWARD SUMMER 2012 Dawn on the Middle Levels
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Images of the Nene
Milton Ferry Bridge Fotheringhay
Thorpe Meadows Water Newton Sutton Bridge
CHAIRMAN’S LETTER Gosh, where to start! Since our last Hereward a lot has happened, if I repeat stuff or you already know some of it I apologise in advance. At the AGM Nigel brought everyone up to date with the proposed mooring at Three Holes, subsequently planning permission has been granted, and a formal quote obtained for the work. The quote was somewhat higher than anticipated, and the committee have discussed our options, either spend every penny we have, trim back the plans a bit (I refuse to sacrifice the Great Ouse approved gold mooring rings and velvet fender strip), or seek some match funding. Watch this space. The CRT/EA ‘will they/won’t they join’ saga rumbles on. Everyone seems to think the EA navigations will be taken over but there are still no guarantees, and there appears to no ‘Plan B’ if they aren’t. Our Region has been strengthened by the decision of Northampton to move across to Eastern, it means that the Nene (NEEN not NEN) is covered by the same region and when the Bedford-MK link is built the Region will contain a great circular route. Cambridge have changed their branch name to Gt Ouse Branch, better reflecting the area they cover. The Easter cruise was a success, a full report is contained within but I felt that as it was the last one I shall organise it didn’t go too badly, allowing for the weather. At the AGM I did announce my intention to stand down immediately following the next AGM in 2013. It is my second stint as Chairman and I’ve done it for a long time. There are two ways of looking at a job like that. Either you garner more and more experience and make more contacts, or you get stale. I am a believer in Cromwell’s dictum, ‘You have sat there too long!’ I genuinely feel that a fresh mind and fresh ideas are needed. I would like to thank everyone of the Committee who have so staunchly and ably supported me and I am confident that who ever accepts the role will be able to count on the absolute support of the committee. Thanks to everyone who has ever helped out, or turned out for a cold wet cruise and bankside barby, it has been fun (mostly).
EASTER CRUISE by Alastair Chambers
aving the week running up to Easter off we went up the Nene in company with Rodgy Dodgy for a few days cruising. The river was noticeably low and there was virtually no flow. We reached Oundle and had a very pleasant lunch before meandering back. The plan was to be in Peterborough on the Wednesday night to pick up Alexander and his girlfriend, sadly the rain fell relentlessly all day and by the time we reached the moorings by The Boathouse everyone was cold wet and tired. However it is amazing the restorative effects of a trip to the pub. Thursday saw us both use the water and pump out on the embankment, whilst the ladies did the Asda bit. Suitably restocked we set off through Stanground and to Whittlesey for a lunchtime at the George. It was a good lunch ‘cos we stayed all day! Up bright and early Good Friday and we ran gently down to March and a stop for more supplies, our pair reached Stonea about teatime to find 4 other boats, The Caddy, Trundlemere, Olive Emily and Dreamcatcher. Dodgy discovered that the pub was already open and an expedition was hastily organised. The Golden Lion has recently changed hands and the young couple running it are keen to see boaters back in the bar. Good beer, jolly company and a huge stove, what more could you want. I think its safe to say a good time was had by all. The Saturday saw four of us head up Well Creek, Trundlemere and Caddy being fairly deep drafted decided to meet us somewhere on Monday. The creek was relatively weed free and we made good time up to the basin where we stopped for a pint, during which we learned that Richard had braved the Cruel Sea and completed his epic voyage by coming through the lock and was waiting at Salters for us. This news was so exciting and stunning that we all had another pint! Somewhere during the afternoon we cruised gently up to Salters, it was dry but quite cold by the time we met our intrepid salty sea dog, along with Jill and a car. Some us then went into Downham Market by car (thanks Jill ) to a truly splendid little pub in the waiting room of the station, if you ever find yourself stuck in DM nip into the Station bar, its fantastic. The boaters barby didn’t happen, mainly due to the fact that by now it was so cold we repaired to our boats for sustenance and warmth. Easter Sunday, and we all rose early and on Hillpenny there was an exchange of Easter Eggs and Mollie, Alexander’s girlfriend gave me a tin of custard (Don’t ask!). We planned to stop at the FiveBells and water up, then press on, drop through Marmont and meet Trundlemere and Caddy. Sadly the plan went wrong from the start, we left late, it got colder and less appealing with every minute. Then we ended up in the Five Bells where food was taken, Richard and Jill commenting very favourably on the Beef Baguettes and my lot demolishing the European chip mountain. By this time it was late afternoon so we said farewell to Rodgy Dodgy, who resides on the creek, after a very pleasant week together, wished Richard ‘BonVoyage’ and cruised on through the lock. Trundlemere and Caddy were at Turves so we moored up near the junction and ran back into March on Easter Monday. My thanks to all those who came along and I hope every one enjoyed themselves, next year I shall let someone new have the pleasure of organising the cruise. It will be nice just to turn up and tag along for a change. 2
IMPORTANT NOTICE NORTHAMPTON ARM - JUBILEE WEEKEND OPENING
onfirmation has been received that despite the current water supply issues the Northampton Arm will be open for the passage of boats during the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend from 1st to 6th June. Passages will be restricted to between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm on each of these days.
British Waterways emphasise that passage must be booked in advance as they want to optimise traffic up and down the arm in order to conserve water. Email enquiries should be made to :email@example.com Details will be required of the desired day and time of passage and the proposed entry point. 3
PROBLEMS ON THE NENE
he heavy rain which fell over the midlands in late April and over the May Day Bank Holiday caused the River Nene to rise dramatically and while this was a welcome respite to the current water shortage in the area it caused problems with overtopping in Peterborough. The areas around the pathways below the railway bridges and on the embankment were inundated. The dangers to moored boats in these conditions became very evident when one narrowboat capsized as the high water receded after becoming caught on the stepped profile of the embankment. The craft appeared to be unattended and was still lying as shown in the photo in mid-May.
RETURN OF COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC TO THE OUSE?
here is a possibility of commercial barge traffic returning to the River Ouse if current trials being carried out by Anglian Water prove successful. Investigations are underway as to the feasibility of using river transport to move large volumes of sewage sludge from treatment plants located around Ely to a large scale sludge treatment plant operated by Anglian Water at Kings Lynn. Some of the problems identified are the tidal conditions in the river below Denver Sluice which would severely limit the times that barge traffic could traverse the route with the need to work around tides and weather conditions. An option being considered to alleviate this problem is to use the Relief Channel but this would require the construction of a connection onto the Nar with lock facilities and a reception and unloading terminal at the Kings Lynn site. The driver for the project is the potential saving in tanker movements by one sixth by the use of barge tankers compared to the present road vehicles with the associated environmental benefits in terms of reduced road traffic and pollution. The trials and investigations are continuing against the background of issues which are reported to be â€™challengingâ€™ but if the costs can justify the benefits the project could attract support. If the project were to proceed it will be interesting to see what benefits could spin-off for leisure use of the Ouse as a connection into the Nar to avoid the tidal passage would be most welcome. 4
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nteresting sign at Bottisham Lock on the Cam spotted by John Revell. At a time when BW is emphasising the need to ensure all lock gates are firmly closed to conserve water, the EA, at least at this location seem to be going in the opposite direction! With the future of the EA as a navigation authority in some doubt at the present time with possible hand over of this function to the new CRT, one wonders if this is the start of a shift in policy to favour river users other than boats!
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EASTERN REGION CHANGES The IWA Trustees have given approval to two changes to the Eastern Region. Northampton Branch will return to fold as a member of the Region and Cambridge Branch will adopt the new title of Great Ouse Branch. The return of Northampton Branch gives a more joined up stewardship for the River Nene with the whole length of the river again being covered by member branches of the Eastern Region. The name Great Ouse Branch is felt to be more representative of the geographical make up and interests of the Branch which covers a far wider scope and area than just Cambridge.
NEW BRIDGE IN NORTHAMPTON A new pedestrian and cycle bridge has been recently installed over the River Nene and the Grand Union Canal Northampton Arm to provide improved access as part of Northampton Borough Councilâ€™s commitment to enhancing its river frontage area. With the new marina at Becketts Park now filling up with boats, the one time rather run-down air of the river through Northampton is rapidly changing giving benefits to boaters and visitors to the area on foot or by cycle.
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NEW OUSE HIRE BASE A new hire boat facility has been opened on the Great Ouse by Black Prince Holidays, who are well known to users of the canal system. The new facility will be based at Bridge Boat Yard in Ely and gives a good opportunity for people from outside the area to experience the Fenland waterways first hand. In addition to allowing exploration of the Ouse and its tributaries, the boats are also registered for the River Cam, giving the opportunity to visit Cambridge. At the time of going to press it was not clear whether the boats would be permitted to make the tidal passage to Salters Lode for access to the Middle Level System and on to the Nene.
NEW SUTTON BRIDGE MARINA Another development is the commencement of the construction of a new marina at Sutton Bridge on the tidal section of the River Nene below Wisbech which is due for completion in September. It is reported that advance bookings have already been taken for half the berths available. When open, the marina will provide a valuable staging post for inland boats making the crossing of The Wash with a potential saving of up to two hours on a typical passage between Wisbech and Boston. This expedition may be beyond the courage of most inland boaters and it goes without saying it should not to be attempted without careful planning. Our own Richard Fairman penned a two-part article in the Summer and Autumn 2011 editions of Hereward covering tips on the Wash crossing which is well worth consulting if anyone is contemplating such a journey.
IWA CONSULTATION WITH EA IWA is engaged in consultation with the senior representatives of the EA to keep to the forefront the issue of the possible transfer of the Agencyâ€™s navigation responsibilities to the new CRT at some time in the future. At present there is uncertainty surrounding if and when this transfer will occur with the issue hinging largely on the outcome of the next government spending review which will not take place until 2014. Having seen the timescale involved in processing legislative work surrounding the establishment of CRT and the delays that have occurred, IWA is keen to avoid similar delays taking place if and when a decision favours a transfer of the EA waterways. The discussions are being led by the EA who have identified a series of key issues for consideration such as ownership of land and the need to fully understand its asset base with structures such as weirs needing to be assessed for functionality â€“ their purpose can be principally for flood defence, water management, navigation, or environment, and any combination of these. This is seen as a positive step by both parties in an attempt to be as ready as possible to respond to whatever decision ensues from the spending review. 11
Shiny new boats on show at Crick
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DROUGHT - WHAT DROUGHT?
ith notices of water shortages and lock restrictions around the Grand Union summit we decided to make our first main outing of this year to a canal with no locks and headed for the Ashby Canal. Well it does actually have one lock if you include the isolated top section beyond Moira Furnace but in terms of the bit connected to the main navigable system, there are no locks. The restrictions meant we did not make the passage of both the Watford and Braunston flights in the one day from our mooring at Crick and were obliged to spend the night above Braunston top lock. We took the opportunity to have a pleasant evening stroll in the sunshine and little did we know this activity was to be a very rare event on this outing. The locks were opened at 9am the following morning and the rain was teeming down. We shared the passage with the boat behind us in the queue and so had a clear conscience about saving water. At this stage water did not seem to be a particularly scarce commodity, the towpath down the locks was a sea of mud with ankle deep puddles. Hillmorton locks were not time restricted but only one side was in use. There were cheerful volunteers from BWâ€™s new team on top and bottom of the flight and chatting to them confirmed they are very happy with the new arrangements which seem to be working well. The Ashby Canal has a rather inauspicious start as it leaves the Coventry Canal at Marston Junction. A former mining area with a workaday air it will not win any prizes for prettiness. Once through the remains of the stoplock however things improve and the canal soon enters pleasant open country. The canal was opened in 1804 and built primarily to bring coal from the pits around Moira and Donisthorpe in Leicestershire and despite its name, never actually reached Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Ironically it was coal, its life blood for many years that brought about its present truncation as mining subsidence resulted in the successive closures of the upper sections resulting in the loss of nine miles. The remaining length extends 22 miles from Marston Junction to a terminus that always seems such an anti-climax, just beyond the village of Snarestone. The style of the canal is set early on. It is a contour canal which twists and turns its way keeping itself at a distance from the many villages that it passes along the way. You catch a glimpse of church spires and rooftops but the places are always that tantalising mile or so away from the nearest bridge. The main town on the route is Hinckley whose Marston Junction claim to fame was the manufacture of hosiery. Just before entering the town, the A5 passes over the canal where there are good moorings and a boater friendly pub, The Lime Kilns with Marstons range of real ales and good food. There are visitor moorings in Hinckley itself and convenient access to frequent buses as true to form, the town centre is that 13
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statutory mile away. We were pleasantly surprised with Hinckley which sported a vibrant street market on our Saturday visit with a good range of local and national shops and a Wetherspoons! Once through Hinckley the countryside returns and Canalside Development at the base of the Ashby Boat Company is passed. This, Hinckley and the recently opened Willow Tree Marina near Stoke Golding are the only boatyard facilities on the canal. Stoke Golding is a pleasant village with three pubs and a local shop but easy access is only available from some offside 48 hour visitor moorings which are Market Bosworth invariably full, often with Church boats taking a very liberal interpretation of that time limit. The alternative is a towpath mooring that involves a lengthy walk or a cut across a potentially muddy field to the village. Sutton Cheyney Wharf is the next port of call where there is a licensed café and a series of signposted walks to the nearby Bosworth Field Battle site and Visitor Centre. There are also water, elsan and refuse disposal facilities. There used to be some very pleasant offside moorings by King Richard’s Field 14
and a footpath to the point where Richard III was reputed to have been killed in the battle. On this trip we were disappointed to see the moorings closed and the signage which told the story all removed. On enquiring we were told that the location of King Richard’s demise has been found to be incorrect and was in fact some distance away so the moorings and that part of the site have been closed with we understand, some degree of embarrassment on the part of the historians. Market Bosworth provides the next opportunity for facilities and provisions but again, you’ve guessed it, it’s a mile up the road. The walk is worth the effort however as there is a pleasant market square with range of local shops, several pubs and a very good chippy! The canal continues its twisty way passing Congerstones, with good visitor moorings and a nearby pub, to reach Shackerstone. Here the Rising Sun can be well recommended for real ales and good food, the Tuesday Grill at £7.50 being exceptionally good value. There is also the Battlefield Line preserved steam railway which operates on most weekends and in early September the village stages a famous Steam Fair with a host of attractions. The last stretch of the currently navigable canal passes through some dense woodland and on reaching Snarestone chooses to pass beneath the village in a short tunnel. The Globe provides sustenance close by and then the canal does a few more twists before ending in what seems to be the middle of nowhere! Here there is adequate room to wind a full length boat plus water, elsan and rubbish disposal. A dedicated lady from the Ashby Canal Trust maintains an interesting sales shop with a good range of books, gifts and canalware. The dry line of the canal onwards to Measham can be followed on foot and there has recently been some activity with regard to restoration of this section. A 100-yard extension has been constructed with a slipway as a pilot scheme to trial methods of construction and verify costings for the planned full restoration into Measham. Here a diversion will be required over a section of a former railway line with an aqueduct over the main street into the town where a marina is proposed. This project is being promoted by Leicestershire CC and progress is currently dependant on availability of funding. Meanwhile the restored section around Moira Furnace and the visitor centre of the National Forest remains tantalisingly isolated. Having reached the head of navigation for the present there was nothing left but to retrace our steps and do battle with the rain which continued for the whole of the trip. Passing back through Braunston and Watford in mid-week, we were not subjected to any delays but that towpath was even muddier and yes, there was still officially a water shortage. The present head of navigation with the pilot extension towards Measham and new slipway
Philip Halstead 15
INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION Peterborough Branch
COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHAIRMAN: Alastair Chambers 52 Hereward Way, Deeping St James, Peterborough PE6 8QB Tel: 01778 344438 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org DEPUTY CHAIRMAN & SALES OFFICER: Graham Baughn PO Box 15, 10 Marina Drive, March, Cambs PE15 0AU Tel: 07578-753558 e-mail: email@example.com SECRETARY: Nigel Long 7 Georgian Court, Peterborough PE3 6AF Tel: 01733 553782 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TREASURER: Michael Slaughter 45 Elstone, Orton Waterville, Peterborough PE2 5JZ Tel: 01733 390598 e-mail: email@example.com MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY: Carole Chambers 52 Hereward Way, Deeping St James, Peterborough PE6 8QB Tel: 01778 344438 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR: Philip Halstead, 20 Cane Avenue, Peterborough PE2 9QT Tel: 01733 348500 e-mail: email@example.com John Dudley, 1 Bellmans Road, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 1TY Tel: 01733 202581 Roger Mungham Boatmans Cottage, Workhouse Lane, Upwell, Wisbech PE14 9ET Tel: 01945 773002 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Sexton, 2 Shaw Drive, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 9TB Tel: 01354 652329 David Venn, Bruffs Lodge, High Street, Nordelph, Downham Market PE38 0BL Tel: 01366 324102 e-mail:email@example.com Richard Fairman, The Old Railway House, Cowbit, Spalding, Lincs PE12 0XD Tel: 01406 380575
- Historic town on the Nene
hrapston is the point on the Nene where the pronunciation changes from the ’Nen’ to the ‘Neen’. The market charter was granted by King John over 800 years ago, in the year 1205, in exchange for two prized horses. This is celebrated every year with the town's Charter fair, where the high street is closed and the people in the town get together to commemorate this event. A relative of George Washington, Sir John Washington, lived in Chancery Lane in the town, and his wife is buried in the church. Sir John was brother to George Washington's great-grandfather. Naturalist and writer Horace William Wheelwright practiced as an attorney in Thrapston in the 1840s. Fashion photographer James Kenny currently lives in the town. The river features a nine-arched mediaeval bridge rebuilt after serious floods in 1795 which calls for careful navigation. Facilities include a picnic site and short stay EA moorings. The town has a full range of shops and pubs and a market takes place on Tuesdays.