Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Enjoying the Middle Levels

Still Saturday 22nd. A long day ....
After the adventure of crossing from the Ouse into the middle level, then the challenge of the weed and wind, at last we were beginning to enjoy ourselves.  We admired a wedding scene at Upwell, though we really did have to duck under several low bridges along the way. The Middle Level Commissioners do produce a map highlighting the exact height of their low bridges.
We do find a shortage of up to date online information about river conditions. You could try the Middle Level site but I note that after the wettest June in living memory it still refers to "the current drought in the coming spring". You'd do better to use mobile numbers.
For the record: Stanground Lock is 01733 566 413 and Salters Lode is 01366 382 292.
Fox's Boatyard is 01354 652 770.
After Marmont Priory (please phone ahead, 01945 773 959 ) with its very helpful lock lady, beautiful cat and surprising peacock, the river has less weed for a while, is broader and we pick up speed.
Wind generators stalk the countryside, the entrance to March is attractive with riverside gardens and an infinite variety of sheds and summer houses and we go past the main moorings to tie up past the Broad Street bridge. It's shaded by trees and opposite the water tap (pump out closed down) and vulnerable to vandalism perhaps, but it's convenient to the town centre for newspapers, pubs, and food.
March could be attractive, and has had money spent on it to enhance its Victorian splendours, but on Saturday evening the kids run wild in the parks while older folks get shouting drunk in the Olde Griffin on cheap beer and loud music. We eat inexpensively, make our excuses and retreat.
Organising our journey onward now throws up several problems.  Stanground lock is closed on Sunday evening so we have to book a precise time slot for Monday morning and to leave early to reach it. Meanwhile we hear there is strong stream advice for the Nene but we can't find out precisely what's going on.
We opt to visit Fox's Boatyard on the way up as it's only a mile away on the other side of March, and ask their advice. Could we retreat to there if all else fails?
Pondering our options onward we retire and sleep despite the lunacy around us. The kids keep at it well into the night and in our dreams we hear the screams of girls and the roar of boys interspersed with police sirens.

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