Saturday, July 04, 2015

Back on the Middle Level.

I hadn’t realised, but it’s logical when you think about it. There’s the Middle Levels, so there must be Upper and Lower Levels, or in this case, North and South Levels.
The Great Fen was divided up into the three areas in the 17th century for administration and management purposes, the South Level comprising the area around Ely, the Middle Level from north of Ely up to the east/west orientated River Nene, and the North Level above the Nene and up to the Welland in Lincolnshire.
As the drainage schemes progressed the land dried out and shrunk back, at one point in the mid to late 19th century the fens were sinking at the rate of 2 inches a year. The river channels carrying the drained water had to be maintained above sea level, and more powerful pumps installed, hence the high flood banks that are characteristic of the Fenland waterways.

We were in the second group out of Denver Lock this morning, the first pair of cruisers were heading for King’s Lynn so they went a bit earlier, not having to worry about the depth of water at Salter’s Lode.

First out of DenverIMG_6116

We rose up to the level of the tide, sharing the chamber with a centre cockpit cruiser also heading for the Middle Levels

Out of the lock we waited on the pontoon landing till given the all clear that Salter’s Lode Lock would be ready for us, then set off, gauging the speed of the now ebbing tide. IMG_6122
The lock entrance is where the river bank is slightly indented, you can just see the blue sign. It’s a hard left turn in from this direction, and I was tempted to turn around upstream and go down backwards before turning in, but decided that the flow wasn’t too bad and made the turn across the river and into the lock without any problems. No photos of the manoeuvre, though. I had my hands full…

Paul the lockie dropped us down onto Well Creek, we said our cheerios and set off for Upwell.

The rich fields of the Fens stretch out to the horizon. IMG_6126
If those pumps stop running this will all rapidly return to wetland and salt marsh.

Is the ground still sinking? It certainly has in the last 75 years since this blockhouse was built when it looked like a German invasion was imminent. IMG_6125
It’s concrete base is at least a foot above group level…

You normally expect to see a trig point on the highest ground around… perhaps this is!IMG_6129
The local Ordnance Survey map puts it’s height at 4 feet. And that’s on the raised flood embankment, the fields are considerably lower!

We were thinking of stopping in Outwell, there are moorings on the sharp bend here, but a boat was already there so we pushed on, through the village and pulled in below St. Peter’s church in Upwell. IMG_6135

We were contemplating fish and chips tonight but the local chippy seems to have disappeared. There’s one back in Outwell, but at a mile away it’s too far, they’d be cold by the time I got them back. So I fetched frozen waffles and fish fingers from the local shop. We know how to live it up, don’t we!

Thanks for all the kind messages about Meg. The wound doesn’t seem to be bothering her, she lets me bathe it without any problems. It’s looking clean, not inflamed or anything so I think it’ll heal well. One thing she is taking exception to is the large anti-biotic pills twice a day. There’re big enough to strangle a horse! She’s generally OK about the cod-liver oil and evening primrose oil capsules, and the Pernamax tablets for the arthritis, but she thinks these new ones are pushing things a little too far…

Tomorrow March, all being well.

Locks 2, miles 6½

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