Friday, December 04, 2009

Best Cruising Waterway 2009

Now the nominees for the third of our 2009 Herbie Awards - Best Cruising Waterway.

Hmmm. What should the criteria be?

a) Scenery - definitely. We want the place to look stunning don't we.
b) Places of interest - maybe bits of the waterway itself or its history, or maybe places to visit en-route
c) Facilities for boaters I suppose, but as long as they're just adequate I'm not all that fussed.

That'll do. Weighted heavily in favour of scenery and waterside structures I think.

So which waterways are eligible this year, i.e where have we been?

a) Grand Union Canal - Brentford to Buckby. Lets split it into Brentord to Uxbridge, Uxbridge to Marsworth, Marsworth to Buckby
b) Arms of the Grand Union - Paddington, Slough, Wendover, Northampton
c) River Nene
d) Middle levels through route from Peterborough to Salters Lode.
c) Great Ouse. I'm going to split this into three bits. The long straight artificial bit from Denver through Ely to the junction with the Cam, the remote winding Old West River from their to Earith, and the remainder down to Bedford. Each feels totally different.
e) River Cam
f) Wicken Lode - the short channel that runs into Wicken Fen nature reserve.
g) River Wissey - the last tributary of the Ouse before it hits tide at Denver

Quite a selection eh? And they all have their charms. There are none that I wouldn't visit again

So for the shortlist of three nominees we have

1) Great Ouse from Earith to Bedford. Passing through numerous attractive towns and villages such as St Ives, Hemingford, Godmanchester, and St Neots . Lovely old bridges and weirs and lush countryside.

2) Surprise surprise I'm going for the Middle Levels, which I have previously referred to as "two days in a ditch."

This time through I learned to love many of its charms. Notably the cute villages of Upwell and Outwell,
and have become fascinated by how the whole area was constructed. You can still see eel traps and mink traps, but what you can't see much of the way is anything over the dyke! As a place for fish watching while you cruise though, its a real winner.

3) River Nene - I wouldn't want to be on it after all this recent rain, but in the sunshine it's gorgeous. Lovely water meadows, superb old mill houses, a real taste of Olde England
straight off the chocolate box.

Place your bets.

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