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Archive for April 30th, 2010

Boat Blog: planning for the Fens

Posted by indigodream on 30 April, 2010

Friday 30th April

As we’ve gradually worked our way along the Grand Union we’ve been looking at the logistics of the trip up the Nene and the wealth of cruising opportunities offered by the river Great Ouse, the Cam and, of course, the various navigable ‘drains’ of the middle levels.

Well, Nicholsons might as well have written “here be dragons” on their map as their guides stop abruptly at Northampton!

The Environment Agency have a load of useful information on their site in the boating section. Anglian Waterways information starts here and there are a series of navigation guides available here. There is a brochure request form which looked very handy as some of the guides have A1 sized maps, we duly filled it in but they have yet to appear.

Luckily another publisher, Imray, has published three guides to the area:

both by Andrew Hunter Blair

The links are all to the IWA bookshop. It is worth having a browse there, particularly in their bargain basement where for example they have Edward Paget-Tomlinson’s book “The Illustrated History of Canal and River Navigations” for a knock down £11.95. Get it while it’s still available!

The Imray guides sit somewhere between Nicholson’s and Pearsons – they have detailed maps and useful summary navigation notes at the start, though subsequent navigation notes are somewhat buried in the text. The text descriptions of the waterways and their surroundings are as detailed as you’d expect from a Pearson’s but lack the eccentric flair of the latter. The guides are particularly good on the history of the waterways and the surrounding villages.

It will be interesting to see how we get on with the guides – there seems to be sparse information about moorings and water points, but that may be because such facilities are relatively sparse in the area :-). We are chatting to the Environment Agency to check on moorings to suit our needs, it is useful to be able to say that we have a permanent mooring so that they know that we are not taking the p$^^.

As we browsed our new books this week we were dismayed to find that we needed special keys for the locks and stuff along this stretch – the guide advised allowing 2 weeks for delivery – aargh! As it happens, we rang the Environment Agency and our keys arrived the next day so our bank holiday cruise is assured…. If you do get caught, it looks like keys can be bought in quite a few marinas eg allegedly at Gayton but we wanted keys in advance in case we go past at inhospitable times.

So we’re all set for a foray onto new waters – if only we could set the weather to ‘fair’ as well……

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