Sunday, 6 July 2014

Great Ouse: St Ives to Godmanchester

            “Have your camera ready” would be suitable advice for any first time traveller along the river between St Ives and Godmanchester.
            By late morning on Saturday Cleddau and Tentatrice were pulling back from the St Ives Bridge, allowing some rowers through,

before passing under the centre arch, close to another of St Ives’ yellow bicycles.
            Within a few miles there would be a glut of church towers and spires: All Saints Parish Church, the stubby tower of Hemingford Grey,
the spire of Hemingford Abbots visible across the meadow from Houghton Lock,
and the tiny waterside church at Hartford.
After the relative emptiness of the riverside scenery up until St Ives the views and buildings now seem carefully managed,

even manicured.
             Through Hemingford Lock went the boats towards Hemingford Grey which turns a picture postcard face towards the river.
 Not half a mile further is Houghton Lock, beside a vast water meadow. Behind the trees is the National Trust owned Houghton Mill (worth a visit on milling days).

            Wonder if Cheshire Mum still remembers the Awfully Big Adventure at this landing stage,
long before Cleddau days...
              Towards Huntingdon there are a couple of boatyards – see this ship’s lifeboat moored here.

There are some floating caravans too.

               Wide water meadows and commons feature along the river's south bank. But as you reach Huntingdon Bridge anyone who has staggered around Huntingdon’s one way road system will recognise the mill turned into apartments.
Onwards, under the busy A14 bridge; cruise on towards Godmanchester. You may gasp at this glorious boathouse-cum-sundeck,
but then concentrate hard, avoid all channels and backwaters to the left, just keep to the right...keep to the right!
The boats crept quietly down the narrow lock channel – while  musak and a PA system blasted loudly over the greenery from the park. What was going on? Not a fair – please...! Godmanchester Gala, apparently (a combination of fete, carnival, community group activists and fundraiser, it seemed).
               The EA moorings behind the lock were empty – just the place for an easy liaison on Sunday with the Godmanchester Friends.
               Coffee and boat inspections over on Sunday morning six adults (and the Boat Dog) ploughed against the human flow across the park.
 Sunday was Picnic in the Park Day.
There was to be more fun and games, a duck race
and live bands,
including the Rolling Stones Tribute Band.
         Half a mile away Godmanchester Friend 1 had prepared a feast

– which Godmanchester Friend 2 cooked! 
                By 8pm the bands had stopped, kit and equipment were being packed away, the crowds had dwindled and the sun was casting a golden light on the water.

                As for the cruising plan: Monday to Little Paxton; Tuesday to Great Barford; Wednesday to Priory Marina, Bedford. 
Total distance to Bedford:  310 miles
Distance so far: 286 miles
Total number of locks to Bedford:  141
Locks so far: 131


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