Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We're still going

Despite the lack of posts recently, we're still going. Mobile broadband connection in the fens is clearly not top of the provider's priority list. At the moment I'm sitting atop the flood defence dyke in order to get any signal at all. I fear I will not be able to provide you with photographic evidence of anything today.

We rested three days in Ely while Kath went home on babysitting duties and I had some interesting conversations with cruiser owners which I'll save for another day. Meanwhile:

The wonderful Wissey wends its winding way to Wittington via Wissington. Flowing through fabulous fens featuring the flowers of forgetmenots and dancing damselflies. - Oh I can't keep up the awful aliteration, so back to proper English.

On the advice on Sue of No Problem blog we decided to take in the river Wissey, the last tributary to joing the Ouse before it goes tidal. What a lovely little river. We did it from end to navigable end in three hours but it was so pretty and so varied. The water is extremely clear but stained the colour of tea (no milk) by the peaty fen soil. Talking of milk and tea, I should tell you about the sugar. At Wissington, in the middle of nowhere is a gigantic sugar processing factory right alongside the little river. It's huge. Vast silos, conveyor belts and pipes everywhere. I bet they make hundreds of tons a day in season. This time of year of course the plant lies idle, being maintaind and readid for the sugar beet crop in the autumn.

East of the plant the tiny river suddenly becomes 200 yards wide as it flows through a big lake, and even after that it is pretty wide. I always expect rivers to get narrower as you go upstream but in the fens no such rules hold true. Often in the lower reaches the watercourse is squeezed in between high flood banks and so becomes narrower and faster.

Anyway we went up and down the Wissey in a day and enjoyed it all. Now we're at the mighty Denver sluice complex ready to take the short tidal trip across to the middle levels tomorrow.

We took a walk around the complex this evening and I must say it is er, complex! Most of East Anglia depends on it for flood control and tidal defences. The Ouse navigation which we have been boating on finishes here and through the gates it joins the New Bedford river (otherwise known as the hundred foot drain and flows out towards the Wash. Also starting here is the relief channel which in times of flood can get rid of a whole load more water by sending it to the sea near Wisbech. Then there is the flood relief cut off channel which starts back inland a way and can collect flood water from various Ouse tributaries and either tip it into the relief channel or flow backwards (!!) and take it to reservoirs in Essex. There are mighty sluice gates all over the place here.

So finishes our cruise on the Ouse. A very unusual river and one we'd like to come back to one day. Still lots more to do before we get home though. I estimate another three weeks cruising.

I'll try to post photos when we get a better connection. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

VallyP said...

Super account Neil. Who needs photos when I can see through your words! Reading about your travels makes me want to come to England and travel the waterways there very much indeed. I feel privileged to enjoy your experiences vicariously but of course the real thing would be unforgettable. Thanks so much for all these lovely tales and for telling us so much about what the landscape, secenry and waterways themselves are like.