After fare-welling Judy and Ted, we stayed in Peterborough another couple of days. First to look around the massive Peterborough Cathedral, and then to avoid travelling in what turned out to be very windy and wet weather. After our spell of warm weather, this was most unwelcome. But we finally got away on Wednesday 7th June in very high winds but no rain and were soon through the Stanground lock and onto the Middle Level Navigations of the Fens.
What struck us very quickly was the flatness of the land, and that often we were unable to see above the banks of these very straight and rather boring waterways. So suffice to say that the cruising was not the highlight of this trip. It was the socialising and the architecture of the towns we visited. For much of this trip we traveled again with Jim and Chris (and of course their dog Gina) from NB Sylph. But we were also joined by Michael and Jane from Moody Blues for several sections, and once we all moored up it was party time. We actually managed a couple of very fine BBQs with excellent food and beverages flowing.
There were many highlights – a visit from our friends, Juliet and Keith, from Australia while we were moored near Downham Market; the aforementioned social evenings with Sylph and Moody Blues; a trip to historic Cambridge; the excellent Environment Agency moorings (who run these waterways) and those provided by GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association); the beautiful towns of Ely and St Ives; a few nice pubs; plentiful wildlife; some beautiful though quite hot weather.
And there were a number of lowlights – the long, straight, low stretches of waterways; a few mechanical and electrical hiccoughs with our boats; some very ordinary pubs; very few places to get diesel, difficulties finding moorings (full of mosquitoes, shallow edges, steep banks, private land, large amounts of weed and reed); and did I mention the often boring stretches of waterway?
All that said, we do not regret the decision to visit this area and overall the trip has been good. And there have been a few hair-raising moments as we crossed tidal sections with strong currents and high winds leading to a bit of anxiety as to where we would end up.
But we are now back on the River Nene retracing our steps back to Northampton over the next couple of weeks.
And when you travel with good friends, enjoying all the highs and lows together, life is pretty good.