Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Leaving Home

On Friday 22nd June Patience left home, slipping her anchor at The Lazy Otter, quitting Stretham,  The Old West River and heading for The Middle Level.
Over 2 1/2 years we have fond memories of the marina at The Otter, The Old Bridge, the irascible Cyril, liveaboard Tim and his two barges, Alan our guide, and even the stuffed otter in the pub itself. It was where we found Patience in November 2009 and where we learned to handle her.
But nothing stands still and the next challenge is a new mooring in a different part of the river system.
We are stocked with enough food and water for 5 days, we've checked the weather and the EA warnings as far as we can, surveyed Denver lock, yet we don't really know what lies ahead given recent drought, floods, heavy rain, unpredictable winds ... and it's June!
So, a brief stop at Ely and another at The Ship, Brandon Creek, but onward, crabwise at times, up the Ouse, with a 20mph tailwind and occasional heavy showers. Wet weather gear at all times.
Despite gusts forcing us towards the bank we arrive at Denver at 6.30pm, 21 miles from Stretham. Plenty of moorings and now fine weather, with the prize of a meal at Jenyns Arms and a lateish start tomorrow.
Patience in early morning at Denver. The sluices are in the background.

Denver sluices and lock are crucial barriers to the sea. Without them it could surge down from the Wash. They also take water from inland out to sea, in a highly complex series of channels and sluices that drain the fens using a system developed by Vermuyden in 1651. Beyond Denver lies a route out to The Wash, where it is possible to cross to Boston, Lincs. We are attempting an easier option: to go up the tidal section for a very short way before turning acutely east down Salters Lode, gateway to The Middle Levels, those rivers joining The Ouse through the Nene to the Grand Union. Our destination is Oundle on The Nene, 76 miles and maybe 4 days from The Otter.
Good weather is expected tomorrow, followed by heavy rain overnight, so we feel confident as we retire on Friday evening.

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