Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Stoke Ferry on the Wissey

As part of my recce by car before going up by boat I drove from Brandon (see previous post) to Stoke Ferry on the River Wissey. There I found not quite what I was expecting.
Reaching a roundabout joining the A134 and the B1112 here I followed signs to Stoke Ferry village (perfectly pleasant, a pub or two and a shop or three) but had to go round to come across the river and moorings, a bit of a walk from the village.
Aerial views show lines of narrow boats along the banks leading up to Stoke Ferry, which is encouraging, but this turned out to be very pleasant but private moorings. No room for visitors.
Walking on through this private area I felt a bit of a trespasser even though I was entirely harmless. Then I came to some more warning signs and decided to turn back. On the other side of the roundabout opposite Whittington Garage (shop included) I found the Grange Farm Touring Park - an unlikely site for mooring, I thought, bristling with caravans in orderly rows, very neat and well scrubbed. Dogs only on leads. No children.
Look carefully and you will see a long list of "don'ts" or at least things you have to pay for. But as it's a GOBA mooring surely that's fine? Turns out GOBA rent the mooring from the caravan site owners - and look where they've put it -
right next to the road bridge, and an overflow outlet.
Prettier from this view ...
... but less than perfect.
So, worth thinking about before you take the 2 hour trip from Hilgay, further down river. On the plus side you could use this mooring and with a bike easily get to Oxburgh Hall just 4 miles away. There are pubs and shops in the village and a shop at the garage opposite the caravan site and ample winding space (it can take 60 foot) a little further up river before the limit of navigation.
On the other hand you are a second class citizen at the camp, (you have to report to reception showing proof of GOBA membership, adults only, barbecues only by agreement, mooring fees of £2 for one hour for non GOBA members, not allowed to use their facilities, pushed away in a corner ...) and there seem to be no alternative moorings anywhere near. EA where are you?
Interesting factoid: it's the Wissey, a tributary of The Great Ouse, that gives its name to the town of Wisbech (Wissey + Bech meaning "shore")
You takes your choice .... I'd say - stay at Hilgay down river and if necessary use Stoke Ferry only as a brief launch pad for Oxburgh Hall, which is a fabulous National Trust moated building, before going back to Hilgay the same day.

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