Monday, 8 June 2015

Facing the Guillotine

Saturday 30th May 

As we left Northampton behind and moved onto the River Nene, pronounced Nen hereabouts, the sun was shining, the river wide and the scenery beautiful. 

Leaving Northampton behind us.
The locks though were a different story.  None of us had encountered Guillotine Locks before and to be honest were all a little scared of them. The name alone was enough to put us off even before we caught site of them.

Guillotine lock in the closed position.
We were travelling down the locks and all guillotine locks had to be left in the UP position. That meant that at every lock we had to lower the guillotine, raise the paddles at the other end to fill the lock to the level of the river where the boat approached the locks (as in picture above), open the gates & drive the boats in, close the gates, lower the paddles and raise the guillotine, to let the water out so that the boats would then be the same, lower level , as the river the other side.  

Open & all ready to drive out
Now the really scary bit where we had to drive the boat out under the raised guillotine!  Most of the guillotines were electrically operated but we still had to hand wind the gates, with some taking 75-80 turns to open or close the paddles and we did 10 of these on the first day!

Next day, Sunday, started wet so we had a late departure and travelled on our own.  We had earlier read a blog by another boat, No Problem, who mentioned an old customer of ours at The Thatchers, Chop Wales, who we knew moored his boats (yes he has two) in these parts, so Tony sent him a message on fb and arranged to meet him at Ringstead where we had a cuppa with him in the Woodford Mill Tea Shop, and he told us of his involvement with 'Friends of the River Nene' and recommended a mooring for the night in Woodford.

Chop & Tony in the Woodford Mill Tea Rooms
Chop & his unconventional mode of transport
We took Chop up on his recommendation & moored up at the FOTRN mooring at Woodford. We had trouble getting alongside the bank as it was very windy and blowing us across the river, however we eventually managed to get tied up.  The bank was very uneven but it had all been mown, we had it all to ourselves & the views over the Northamptonshire countryside were picturesque.

Woodford mooring
We followed the footpath from the mooring which took us through the very pretty village to the pub The Duke for a drink.

Woodford from the river
Monday 1st June dawned bright and sunny, a beautiful morning if a bit nippy.  We only had a short journey to our next stop Thrapston where we were to meet up again with Aria & Teezy. The town moorings were located just before the Medieval 9 Arch Bridge and very tricky to see let alone negotiate. 

Thrapston Town mooring
Soon Teezy & Aria joined us and we all moored up securely as the weather forecast was for 52 mph winds the following day!  By the evening there were 5 boats rafted up, all battening down the hatches against the strong winds.

All three in
 Later a friend of mine, Maureen, who lives nearby came by for lunch & we had a good catch up.

Maureen & Jan
Tuesday we stayed put while the winds raged and went for a walk along part of the Nene Way taking us round Islip and Thrapston and dined at The Woolpack in the evening.  The following day, having used up our 48hr stay at the Town moorings,  we moved just a short way to a mooring just below Islip lock which .we had spotted on our walk. Here we had our first BBQ of the holiday, sitting on the bank in the sunshine & enjoyed the sunset.

Tony G,Teresa, Jan, Tony A, Karen & Martin
Sunset at Islip
Thursday was a beautiful warm sunny day & we made our way to Fotheringhay, another picturesque village with a very imposing church overlooking the river.  The farmer here allows mooring  against his meadows for a very reasonable £4 a night which he collects in his old Treacle tin and assures us all goes to charity.
There once was a castle nearby ( only the mound and earthworks remain) which was the final place of imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scotts who was tried and executed in the castle in 1587.

Moored at Fotheringhay
Friday dawned dull & wet but it brightened up later and we made our way to Alwalton where we moored in a by-water, beside the lock, overnight ready for a final push into Peterborough on Saturday morning.

Friday 5th June

Since starting this journey at Hallingbury Marina we have travelled 184 miles and done 167 locks.  It has taken us 4 weeks and we could probably get home by car in about 2 hours!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed your trip down the Nen(e) ;o) Great to see you both!