Once beyond the city boundary and the last railway bridge the river is wider and the banks are higher. Pope’s Corner when you reach it hardly seems a corner.
Fat Bottomed Girl,
Mid Life Crisis
and Large Marje.
The Old West River is narrower than the Great Ouse, the water flow is faster and the channel weedier. Half a dozen times the throttle was thrown into reverse to try to throw off the insidious reeds and blanket weed.
Near here there was a good Monkton Moment*, the second one this week. The Pembrokeshire flag was flying (a helpful aid for giving wind direction).
This is flag-flying territory now and the Red Ensign has been attached onto the tiller, while from the bow fly the Pembrokeshire flag, the GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association) pennant and the Kennet and Avon pennant. Tentatrice’s Captain has unfurled flags too, Red Ensign at the stern and a stunning looking Worcestershire county flag at the bow (three black pears against a green and blue background).
On along the Old West River until eventually a road runs parallel with it. There ahead lay Hermitage Lock and a green traffic light allowing access to the lock chamber.
the New Bedford River,
Within half a mile the Earith EA moorings were in sight. The pontoon looked crowded with other boats - the approach needed to be slow. As Cleddau nosed towards the pontoon, Boatwif’s hands full of mooring rope, there was a grey slither and a splash. Right in front of Cleddau’s bow a seal had plunged into the water and submerged. Two hands full of rope, no fingers left for a camera... On Friday morning a shy head bobbed above the water - this is the only photo! Friday brought sun-sparkled waters but stiff breezes. It was to be a two lock day. First came Brownshill Staunch, an impressive structure.
It was a key job: unlock the cabinet at each end and press the buttons in the right order.
Onward, past tree lined banks, a marina now at the Pike and Eel pub, thatched cottages at Holywell,
dragonflies darting and dancing low on the water. Ahead loomed a straight structure, a bus travelling on it.
Wasn’t that the recently installed St Ives to Cambridge guided bus route?
First sighting of St Ives is of the tall and graceful spire of the Free Church.
The St Ives lock somehow seems a rather intimidating structure, a lock to the left, a massive weir to the right.
The lock has a strange shaped chamber, electrically operated bottom gates, paddles to be wound on the top gate. Once out of the lock and under the bypass bridge the river is wide,
the mill building to the left, the town quay on the right. Mooring up right at the heart of the town proved a challenge - but despite wind, swans and an underwater obstruction a breasted-up arrangement was achieved.
Where better to be than looking at the stunning St Ives Bridge
with its iconic chapel jutting out from the centre span? And just yards from the bridge is Surf and Turf,
the cause of a Remember When moment. “Remember when we ate there, it was a Greek Cypriot restaurant then, six of us, Cal Son and Cal Mom were there too?” Later a July 4th email was dispatched westwards to the Cal Clan.
Just back from the riverside stretches St Ives’ long shopping street, accessed from Town Quay by the short but pretty Bridge Street. The Free Church in 1980 underwent a transformation, creating community space at ground level and this beautiful church space, the Centrum, on the first floor.
Outside, just yards away, stands a statue of St Ives’s famous local resident, Oliver Cromwell who lived here for five years in the 1630s.
Puritan Cromwell would hardly have approved of the Live Music event at a local pub that blared until well after midnight on Friday. Loud voices drifted down to the boats from the bridge and quay until sleep overcame the boat crews. There was another explosion of noise, before 7am on Saturday - and the cause this time was vigorous street cleaning vehicles!
May it be quieter tonight at Godmanchester...
Total distance to Bedford: 310 miles
Distance so far: 279 miles
Total number of locks to Bedford: 141
Locks so far: 128