Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Limit of navigation–for us.

There’s a lock at Brandon - the only one on the navigable river - that gives access to another ¾ mile of waterway, and more moorings. But it’s only 40 foot long so we can’t pass through.

Buzzed by F15s from the nearby Lakenheath airfield we left the GOBA moorings at around half nine this morning.


The other two boats here were returning to the Great Ouse, in fact the narrowboat had already left. They reckoned it wasn’t worth the effort to go all the way to Brandon. I have to disagree, it’s been a very enjoyable run up to here, the river moving from the wide open fenland to a narrower, more wooded channel as it approached the high ground.
Rising to around 160 feet (a mountain in Fenland terms!) The Breckland is a wooded sandy ridge split by a valley carrying the Little Ouse from it’s source near Redgrave. The low watershed here (at Redgrave) also provides the water for the River Waveney, heading east to reach the North Sea at Lowestoft.
Brandon is built on the western slope of the ridge, and marks the limit of navigation for the Little Ouse.

The river runs in a more natural channel for this last 6 miles, although with 2000 years to play with I’m sure that man has had his hand in it somewhere…

The river level is so close to the land elevation that it spreads out across the fen.IMG_6043

Water cooling for cows
I don’t know what this breed is, but there are an awful lot of Highland cattle grazing here. They must be hot in this weather, with a pelt more suited to northern climes.IMG_6039

There’s a 7 mph speed limit from the Great Ouse junction to Wilton Bridge, thereafter the restriction is 4 mph. Not that it makes much difference to us…

Wilton Bridge, watch out for the speed limit sign!IMG_6046

Shortly after the bridge the flood defences at the Cut-Off Channel are passed. To rapidly shift excessive water from the upstream ends of the rivers Lark, Little Ouse and Wissey, a channel was cut to take water from the rivers directly to join the Relief Channel below Denver Sluice. IMG_6054In normal conditions the single gates on the left are open (we’ve just come through them) and those on the right closed. In flood conditions the main navigation sluices are closed and the right-hand ones open, diverting water down to the Relief Channel. The channel is crossed on a short concrete aqueduct downstream of the sluices. Each of the three rivers benefits from a similar set-up.

From here the banks start to close in and become more overgrown. IMG_6055

The channel gets narrower and windy in places… IMG_6057

…but the water is crystal clear and flowing steadily.IMG_6058

Also available in blue… It’s a long time since I carried a damsel on my handlebars!

The last couple of bends under overhanging willows brings you out onto the wider, more open water below the lock and sluice at Brandon. Only one other boat here, which was a relief. There’s only room for two on the EA mooring below the lock, and we can’t get to the others above it.

Moored at BrandonIMG_6060

It was quiet when we arrived at lunch-time, but since the schools kicked out they’ve been several kids in and out of the water. One even jumped off the top of the sluice in the centre of the picture.
No problem though, and it’s getting quieter again now. I bet Yarwood didn’t see much of that when they were here in floods in the winter of 2013!

Back to the big river tomorrow.

Hi Graham and Jill. It’s been a fine trip up to here, I‘m going to have a quick look around before we leave tomorrow.

Hiya, Naughty-Cal. If you’ve time it’d be well worth the trip. I’ll get some pics of the moorings above the lock for you tomorrow, in case you want to go up there.

Locks 0, miles 6

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