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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……

6 Responses to “Boat Blog: planning for the Fens”

  1. amy said

    do give us a shout when you’re down our way! ↲↲amy, nb Lucky Duck

  2. indigodream said

    Hi Amy, will do – have been looking forward to hopefully cathing up with you there – you always do a great job of promoting Cambridge!

  3. Sue said

    Hi Richard & Sue,

    You might like to look at my guide which I am putting together.. albeit slowly. Your trip has spurred me on to complete what I started back in July of last year! I am now going to get it finished hopefully over this bank holiday, so it will be head down to do that!

    You will just love the Nene, it is so very different from the canal system, we hope you enjoy as much as we did. If you have any questions at all then email me. We have spent many summers in the fens.

    Cruising the River Nene

  4. Sue said

    Don’t know if you have seen this, but there is a stoppage of some sort on the Nene.. You might want to give them a quick ring to check if you can get through..

    “The Nene Valley Railway Bridge at Wansford Station, Stibbington on the Lower Nene, will be closed from 10 May 2010 for approximately four weeks. This is to allow essential maintenance works on the east arch of the Nene Valley Railway Bridge at Wansford Station, Stibbington.

    For further information regarding restrictions please contact River Inspector Roy Smith on 07714 064034 or Roger Mann (Nene Valley Railway) 01780 784444”

  5. indigodream said

    Hi Sue, thank you so much – that’s priceless information – we’ll check straight away as that is precisely the time we’d be on the Nene – we might be able to get past the stoppage but I think that a month stuck on the other side might cause us some difficulty.

    Your guide to the Nene is great – I now hope that we get to see the river in person…..:-)

  6. indigodream said

    The nice Mr Smith just rung me back – they are only working on one arch, you can still get through but be careful in case another boat is coming the other way!


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