Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are we scared? Just a tiny bit.

Bedford is as far from home, by water, as we will get on this trip. Strangely, by road it would be nearer home than at least half of the other places we have passed through.

The last stretch from Eaton Socon to Bedford sees a real change in the river. It gets bendier, eventually narrower and disturbingly faster. The exit from Roxton lock requires a good wiggle of the tiller to push out of the lock cut and then turn sharply up river to avoid being swept onto the weir. No problem really, but I am not looking forward to it on the way back. We'll have to stop on a very short landing stage with a strong current pushing us forward, and Herbie has useless brakes!

We've got some narrow bridge holes to shoot through too, like this one at Great Barford
Another stretch below Castle Mill lock is bendy and very shallow and again the current gets strong in order to shift the water through, then the lock itself is so deep that I had vertigo standing at the top and looking down to receive the rope from Kath. It has this unique(to me) paddle gear positioned half way along the lock with one gubbins for filling the lock and a similar one for emptying.

At Cardington lock we had two interesting encounters. Firstly with a group of firemen practicing removing corpses from the lock! It seems kids open the bottom gate paddles, jump in the lock and dive through the paddle hole. The force of the water must be huge, and if the paddles aren't properly open the kid gets stuck with fatal consequences. Apparently its happened a few times.

The other encounter was with a mink with a sizeable perch in its mouth. It ran all along the lockside as we were about to leave and then dissapeared into the rushes.

We've been here at Priory marina in Bedford since yesterday afternoon, getting the batteries fully charged, using the launderette, etc. Being GOBA members we get a bargain - first night free, second night half price (£5.50). So a £17 membership saved us £22.

Since we got here we've had a lot of rain and I'm hoping the river wont be running too much faster when we go back downstream tomorrow. We'll have extra crew to help. Friends David, Roy and Paula, all familiar with this part of the Ouse, will be reporting for duty at 9.30 am.


VallyP said...

Good luck Neil!! That lock looks as deep as some of the ones over here! I never realised there were any like that in the UK....I do hope you get through you challenges without any mishaps. Good to know you've got some help coming too.

Halfie said...

Of course, if you could have waited at Bedford a few years, you might have been able to get directly to Milton Keynes and not had to worry about fast-flowing rivers!

Yes, I know I'm a bit behind with this comment (and other ones) - I'm just a bit behind catching up with all the blogs I've been neglecting.