Indigo Dreaming

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Archive for May 19th, 2010

The Odyssey 2010: Day 16

Posted by indigodream on 19 May, 2010

Friday 14th May

Wadenhoe to Irthlingborough

The King's Head, Wadenhoe....

We had another relaxed start this morning after a very quiet night on the moorings. We emerged at the same time as the crew of nb Pendlewych and ended up chatting to them for ages. We ladies talked about the dogs and the men talked about boaty things, particularly interesting as the Crew of Pendlewych have been boating for a very long time, seem to have been just about everywhere in a variety of boats including a wooden boat. At one time the tape measure came out as they compared…………. headroom of course. Nb Pendlewych is relatively low but they regularly have to take their chimney down under the bridges and out on the Fens, on the small drain where they moor, they have to take off their tiller pin before they can pass under some of the bridges! Pendlewych is 72″ to the top of her tiller pin; Indigo Dream is 72″ to the top of the horn (the highest fixed object on our roof).

We walked as far as the church with the crew of Pendlewych – we waved goodbye to them there – they were off on a walk to Islip – they’re hardy folk! We explored Wadenhoe Church – I’d say it’s a must-visit place along the river. The church was open but deserted, yet there was a real sense of welcome – there was a water bowl for the dogs in the entrance porch (inside the first heavy door) and there were bottles of water and squash for human visitors inside the church itself. Take some loose change – there are very informative leaflets for the grand sum of £1 each. The church is not ornate but it is ancient – some of the windows date back to 1280. It’s the opposite of a tardis – much smaller inside than the bulk of the outside would suggest – just how thick are those old stone walls? The graveyard is fascinating as many of the worn gravestones date back to the 1600’s. How different the inscriptions to those in the adjacent modern churchyard – there’s none of this ‘in loving memory…’ just ‘Here lyeth the dead corps of….’. There is also a macabre stone with three carved skulls. I wondered whether these might have been plague deaths but the dates of adjacent stones suggest that they’re too late to have been the first black death (in the 1300s) and too early to be the great ‘London’ plague of 1665.

The millenium sundial at Wadenhoe and the outstanding view beyond....

What I liked about the church leaflet was the rector’s summary that the church is a living entity and still serves the community today. The bells are apparently the most melodious peal in the district. I know it’s 10 years now, but there’s a fine sundial commissioned by the congregation as a millenium project – wouldn’t it be nice to think it would be standing here for the next millenium celebration 🙂

The church is fascinating, but even if you weren’t in the least bit interested in history it’s worth walking up here just for the panoramic view over the Nene Valley and back towards Wadenhoe village nestled in the hills. The dogs had another good rummage and we set off from the moorings in good spirits.

As we approached Titchmarsh Lock we passed  two men coming downstream in a Canadian canoe – it took Richard down memory lane to our own adventures down the Dordogne River in a canoe. As he remarked to the canoeists “we’re champions at capsizing them”. Uh, steady on Richard, we’re good at capsizing canoes when we’re paddling them, not when we’re passing them in Indigo Dream…..

Note: dog rummaging is lead-only at Titchmarsh Lock

We went on through Islip Lock. The mechanism jammed a little when I was emptying the lock – letting the gate down a little then up again seemed to work. It’s always awkward with electronic gates as it’s hard to tell whether it’s a mechanical or electrical problem. I did notice that many of the tracking wheels on the guillotine gates fail to turn and end up slipping, sometimes catching, making the movement rather jerky.

Hide at Titchmarsh Nature Reserve...

We’d been in touch with Caxton to see how far downstream they’d come and whether we could contrive a meeting. They were on the move, with plans to stop at Islip for the weekend. So it was only a matter of time before we bumped into each other.

Richard steered Indigo Dream safely through the bridge at Islip and noted in passing that nb Beez Neez was on the moorings – we’d last seen them at Wellingborough Embankment.

"What's that coming over the hill is it a......." Matilda Rose!

In a perfect moment of serendipity, we opened the gate at Lower Ringstead Lock just in time to let Matilda Rose in next to us before we shuffled onto the mooring to let Caxton take our place. The river’s got so little traffic we took advantage and had a six person, six dog bundle – we have some great photos of the canine crews dashing about. It was so good to see them all and we were sad to wave goodbye. They did put things in perspective for us though – after a chat with the ever-sensible Leslie and Jill I lost the last of my whimsical sadness at leaving the Nene – after all, it’s not as if we’re never going to boat again – we’re going back for adventures on the Thames!

We cruised on, full of cheer after our meeting with Caxton and Matilda Rose. Our next lock was Upper Ringstead – it is so beautiful here – if there had been moorings I’d have just stopped here for the night. The views over the lake are outstanding. We passed by the new marina that Richard spotted on his bike the other day; then past the adventure playground which we now know is part of the Stanwick Lake ‘complex’. We’d passed the entrance when I picked Richard up from the Axe and Compass the other day but hadn’t realised what a big enterprise it was.

Waving goodbye to Caxton and Matilda Rose - the dog photos will be in a separate post......

Oh, the owl nesting boxes here are successful – I spotted a hunting barn owl flying over the water meadows, ghostly pale and unmistakeable…..

It’s worth remembering that the adventure playgound/activity centre also does kayaking. There was a group of around 30 kayaks spread across the river as we came round the bend. Luckily they were were well supervised by the adults present and quickly tucked themselves into the banks so we could cruise past, slowly…..

Note: at Denham Lock the security bolt that holds the guillotine wheel doesn’t work; at Upper Ringstead the bolt needs a tap with the end of a windlass to get it to pop into the wheel (all makes sense when you see it!).

We were at our last lock of the day when I had a surprise phonecall from Greygal – she’d just rung for a chat and to compare notes on how our respective greyhound packs were faring. It was so good to talk to her – it really put the lid on a very sociable day.

Moorings above Irthlingborough Lock...

We’d had a fine day’s cruise and decided to stop at the Irthlingborough moorings by the Rushden and Diamonds Football club. Sue from nb No Problem recommends them and her guide has been spot on! There were two other boats moored there so that’s always a good sign. There is good dog walking (and quite a few dog walkers) around here (back towards the lock). Richard cycled back to get the car and we took advantage of the transport to explore the village of Higham Ferrars. The dogs were happy to stay behind – they are so very tired after their week’s exertions.

Higham Ferrars is another interesting place – yet again the village has an ancient heart. But we were there to discover the food not the history! We counted four pubs serving food, a couple of chinese takeaways and a very nice looking indian restaurant. We liked the look of the Griffin Inn and ended up eating in their very posh a la carte restaurant. The restaurant has great decor and ambience, the staff are efficient BUT it is quite pricey. The food was fine, but I didn’t think it was perfect enough for the price……

We had a very quiet night on the moorings – Sue’s guide was right yet again!

Cycle Ride Photoblog, then the day’s photoblog:

From Irthlingborough the cycle route is through Stanwick Lakes - really fantastic cycle path

Past the adventure playground

I hope that the Sustrans logo means that the path between Irthlingborough and Islip will be extended

At times it feels like you are on a canal ...

Nearer Islip the path gets rougher but still really good

There's obviously a story here ..

Beyoond Islip I went on the Nene Way. Big Mistake! After the cowpat full rough field you have a dodgy path through a wood ..

Indigo Dream on the King's Head moorings...

Wadenhoe Church has many interesting carvings....

Blue and Lou enjoying the 'view'....

Looking over towards Wadenhoe...

Hmm, what's the time now?

The dogs enjoyed lying in the sweet long grass...

Gravestone with three carved skulls - probably from the 1600's if the dates on the surrounding tones are a guide. Shame there's no inscription...

swan on the wing....

Luckily the range doesn't cross the river!

Watch out for canoeists on the bend by the activity centre....

There may be quite a few canoes....

Freshwater Mussell Shells - a sign of otters?????

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