Saturday, 27 April 2013

St Ives here I come

Wednesday, 24 April 2013
I headed up the Ouse at 12.00 mid day in a nice warm sunshine but, as I went further west, it started to get colder and windier. This section of the Ouse is called the Old West River and, yes, I have heard all the jokes. Not many other boats about. This part of the river really is a little gem.

I passed through manned Hermitage Lock at Earith and stopped briefly at the EA 24hr mooring at Westview Marina to take on drinking water and empty the waste tank. As I left, I saw the famous seal. Unfortunately, by the time I could stop and put Skylark into reverse, it had disappeared under the water and didn’t come back up.

The next lock is at Brownshill Staunch lifting your boat about 12 inches from the 3 miles of tidal Ouse to the upstream non-tidal bit. It was in my favour so I went straight in.

Both Hermitage Lock and Brownshill Staunch are having their staging pontoons replaced so access into and out of the locks is being controlled more than usual. It’s worth ringing the Hermitage Lockkeeper before you get there. No problems though.

There is a very big sign prohibiting mooring outside the Ferryboat Inn at Holywell (rather ironic that).
The next short stretch had the most wildlife; a heron, a kingfisher as well as the usual ducks, swans, coots, moorhens, etc. A few baby coots around - the size of ping-pong balls.
I was the only boat going through the big St Ives lock which was not in my favour. This was a bit of shame as it uses so much water – it’s a double lock with a lift of nearly 2 meters. It took me about 20 minutes and was my first complete solo lock with an electric guillotine gate at the downstream end and a pair traditional hand-operated ‘V’ gates upstream – harrah!

The waterfront at St Ives really is very attractive, even when the sun goes in!

After a very pleasant 6 hours cruising one of the most peaceful and attractive rivers of East Anglia, I moored at the Waits near the little St Ives Museum – very nice.

I had heard another boat owner say this area is the meeting place for local ne’er-do-wells but I have never had a problem here. It attracts all sorts of people at lunchtime and in the evening eating their packed lunches or the fish and chips. There are sometimes a few local lads and lasses hanging out but they all seem very friendly and laid back.

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