Saturday, 22 September 2012

Up The Nene Again

After this frustrating year for boating, with strong stream advice and all, it was good to get back on the water again, setting out from our new home in Oundle Marina.
We planned three or four days, partly around the weather forecast and partly to explore the river and its pubs and villages.
The first section of only two hours is already becoming a favourite: Oundle to Wadenhoe through locks at Upper Barnwell, Lilford and Wadenhoe, ending up at The King's Head for lunch. All the locks are very scenic, the river is delightful, with fields opening out, trees closing in, Lilford Hall glimpsed between the trees ...

... houses with delightful gardens extending to the river, with little summer houses and dinky jetties and a very pretty bridge ...

just downstream of Lilford lock.
The King's Head and the church at Wadenhoe are well worth a visit - all within 2 hours boating from our base.
Suitably refreshed we motored on, through Titchmarsh, where the Middle Nene Cruising Club dominates the lock  but there are no apparent moorings for passers by like us.
On to Islip Mill Lock where we see the tallest bollards ever ...

... designed, we imagine, to cope with severely rising water levels.
On again to Thrapston, through their nine arched bridge and acutely right into some very pleasant moorings - and it's still only 4 pm.
Thrapston Moorings
The Nine Arched Bridge, viewed from upstream

Though the moorings are very close to the bridge, traffic at night is light and we are not disturbed by it.
Eating, however, is more of a problem. We inspect several pubs in Thrapston, none of which appeal unless you are keen on gaming machines, pool and karioke and though the Woolpack looks reasonable we opt for the ever so slightly pretentious Bridge Hotel which provides us with a few pints of Spitfire and excellent meals. We are satisfied to have paid more for better, though we think The Bridge's decor hasn't quite decided whether it's a wedding venue, a bar, a restaurant, a conference centre, a gentleman's club or a Maharajah's palace.
Thrapston itself seems a rather down at heel place. It has facilities for boaters in terms of supermarkets to stock up with but it feels tired and worn. John was intrigued by the remains of Thrapston Station and its railways and found this detailed explanation. He says:
The LNWR Nene Valley (Peterborough to Northampton) line station was on the site of Scotts (the summer house manufacturer) and the viaduct across the Nene was on the Midland Railway line from Cambridge to Kettering. The Midland Railway station is the one you can still see from the A14.
 The Nene Valley line is the one whose bridges (now footbridges) we kept passing under on the river.

Sections of the railway line seem now to be part of the Nene Way long distance route.

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