Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bedford and Back

Our trip to Bedford from Lazy Otter was a success, albeit in less than a week. We had thought we would take a couple of weeks or even three but it turned out that one was enough - 4 days there and 2 days back. My diary follows on a day by day basis but in summary my conclusion is very positive.

While Bedford is not somewhere I would normally spent 6 days travelling to and back, the journey was good. The landscape is obviously East Anglian in character, mainly flat river coridors within a large rural hinterland, but it is very attractive with both natural and manmade places of interest like woodlands, wetlands, and small towns and villages.

From the boating perspective, the river Ouse was a pleasure to be on, the locks easy to operate, we found plenty of places to moor, water and pumpouts were available at intervals, and even though we were tarvelling in mid September, there was hardly anyone else on the river - very peaceful!

One of the other reasons for making this a week-long trip rather than longer was the weather. The forecast was good for the first week and, apart from one shower (one afternoon), it turned out well. However, the second week was looking like being wet and windy and we decided we didn't want to spend time on the boat under these conditions so we shortened the trip. The good thing was that we were never more than 2 days away from Lazy Otter so the option to turn back was always avaiable to us - had we been further away, we might have chosen another option.

Kay made an interesting point about operating the locks (in which she has quite some experience). Compared to the ones you find on the canal system, the locks on the Fens are much cleaner, safer and easier. Firstly, cleaner - much of the gearing, racks and pinions are enclosed in casings so very little grease is exposed to the open air and hands and elbows. Secondly, safer - most of the lock gates have at least one hand rail so, if you have to cross the gates, there is less risk of falling in. Lastly, ease of operation - some locks are entirely electrically operated, some (eg Hermitage) are operated by a Lock Keeper and others are part electric so the effort of opening and closing is much less than if they were totally manual.

I recommend the trip to anyone thinking about it.

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