Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Stanground standstill

Monday 25th
Off before 8 to be sure to catch our Stanground appointment (make sure you phone ahead to warn the lock keeper).
On the western outskirts of Whittlesey there is a very narrow channel with a sharp bend (next to The Hero pub, named after local hero Sir Harry Smith, not Nelson).
Narrow channel, sharp bend, at Whittlesey

There follows an attractive rural stretch spoiled by a desperate and chaotic farm where sad and filthy cows lick at the crooked timbers of a lopsided barn floating in a muddy marsh and where the only visible working machine is a tractor with no front axle. Cold Comfort Farm lives on here.
Beyond this, representatives of yesterday and tomorrow stand tall, side by side, slender old brick chimneys echoed by modern wind generators.
Arriving at Stanground lock at 9.30 we find that strong stream advice has been notified so we phone the Lower Nene linesman for clarification.
Nene River Inspectors -
upper: 07760 422263
middle: 07768 171256
lower: 07714 064034
He confirms strong stream conditions, worsening over the next few days as they reverse locks to send water down and out of the system. The Stanground lock keeper confirms we pass through at our own risk, and would have to sign an indemnity form. We are not to so foolish and have little option but to retreat. If we had gone through and moored at Peterborough there is a good chance the moorings would become awash.
Stanground lock and lock keeper, with John. Patience sits expectantly in the background.

The number to phone is 0800 80 70 60
Thanking our forward planning, we now aim to go back to Fox's at March, and scold ourselves that we didn't clarify the situation before making the journey this far.

The return journey echoes the  approach but though we have now seen  a temporary end to our expedition to Oundle, this is a pleasant trip. After all, "going up and coming down the river" is what we do. On the bright side we also now have the opportunity to explore the middle level's other channels, probably visiting Ramsey and Benwick, while we're based safely at Fox's - which will be for a month, we imagine. It's a calculated retreat, not a failure. Honest.

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