Now, is that “Neen” down here, or “Nen”? The pronunciation changes part way along the river’s course from Northampton to the Wash, but where, that is the question. Imray’s guide to the river suggests Thrapston Town Bridge, about 34 miles upstream so that makes this stretch The Nene (long e) as against The Nene (short e). It doesn’t really matter though, so long as you stick to writing it rather than saying it…
With a long day on the cards we were under way at around half-nine, leaving the fine mooring next to the park in March.
The day started reasonably, light winds and sunny spells, but as the day went on the cloud and wind increased and we had a couple of light showers. They didn’t amount to much, though.
Out on the water, at this point, The River Nene (Old Course)
The “Old Course” isn’t the original, natural course left over from the last Ice Age. Oh no, that would be too easy… This channel is Roman in origin.
After an hour or so we arrived at the first junction, where the Old Course is left and the Link Route follows Whittlesey Dyke. The change is obvious; the Dyke is much shallower and narrower.
Here we also crossed the Greenwich Meridian, back to the west.
…and the River Nene Old Course.
At Burnthouse Bridge we came across a couple of weed-cutters, who obligingly pulled over to let us pass.
The next bridge is appropriately enough, Angle Bridge.
The Twenty Foot River rejoins here after passing to the north of March.
That entrance bridge is 6’5”, we might just squeeze under that but there’s another further on that’s a roof scraping 5’2”.
We arrived at Whittlesey to see a boat just leaving Ashline Lock. Good timing.
It didn’t take us long to go up and out, what took longer was emptying the chamber again and opening the lower gates as per the instructions on the sign. I wonder how many don’t bother… I wish I hadn’t, and the crew of the boat that came around the corner ahead just as we set off probably wished the same!
I was determined to get round the tight Briggate Bend in one this time, and did. Well, almost. I cut the inside of the turn and ran aground about halfway down the boat length, so had to resort to muscle power to get off. But I didn’t have to reverse, so that counts, doesn’t it?
The Leisure Centre moorings were surprisingly empty.
We could have stopped here quite happily, but I’d booked Stanground Lock for 3 o’clock and Tina would be expecting us.
From Whittlesey the route is on King’s Dyke. It’s believed that King Canute, the 11th century king who demonstrated the futility of defying the inevitable by showing that he couldn’t hold back the tide, was responsible for getting this drain constructed.
I didn’t realise how much those wind turbine blades bend under a brisk breeze!
It was just after half-past two when we came around the last corner before Stanground Lock.
I was just pulling onto the lock landing when Tina appeared and beckoned us straight into the chamber. Up nearly 4 feet and the top gates opened onto a view of Peterborough Cathedral on the skyline.
It’s only half a mile to the railway bridge crossing the junction, and the turn onto the River Nene proper.
Below Stanground the waterway is on the final drain, this one The Back River of Morton’s Leam. Morton was the 15th Century Bishop who saw the benefits of improving the navigation from Peterborough to the sea. The Leam runs from here to Guyhirn, upstream of Wisbech, but has now been bypassed by the wider, deeper channel known as Smith’s Leam, built around 1760.
We were thinking of filling with fuel at Peterborough Boating Centre, but it looked a little congested so we decided to pass. We’re don’t need any for a week or two, anyway.
Under the railway bridge…
…and out onto the river
We pulled over on the Embankment after a 5½ hour trip. We’d all had enough, I reckon.
It’s supposed to be a bit damp tomorrow, so we’ll play it by ear. If we do move we’ll not be going so far.
Locks 2, miles 16