Friday, 18 April 2014

A bit sticky

Our pretty mooring at Upwell; little did we know what lay ahead
That was how Paul, the Salters Lode lockie, described our potential passage through Well Creek to reach his lock. Boy, was he not kidding! It was as sticky as a roll of flypaper that fell into a tub of treacle.
It's only about five miles to the lock but we decided not to hurry and make today's tide but rather potter about with chores, have lunch and potter up in the afternoon to cross tomorrow.
A good decision it turned out. Pottering would have a breathless rush compared to our pace. The trip took us nearly four hours.
We were struggling from the off. The Creek through Upwell is so shallow that the bottom seems barely below the surface. We were churning mud, weed, old branches and rubbish while barely moving at all – and at times stationary on mud. It wasn't long before two shallower drafted boats were queued behind but no chance of pulling over for them as we would never have got off the side.
It wasn't long before a queue started to form
A very slight improvement saw Upwell become Outwell but then came the long, hairpin bend – shallow on the inside, shallow on the outside and mucky in the middle. We came from under the road bridge after the bend with virtually no steering as Harry just ploughed towards the outside...where a plastic cruiser was moored. Reversing and pole-ing finally got us round.
Churning mud out of Outwell road bridge
After that things never really improved. In fact they got worse as what appeared to be half a tree got sucked up and wound around our prop and rudder, demanding seriously wrestling to get it untangled.
Wrestling what seemed half a tree off the prop
The Creek got deeper but we were still in trouble, hoovering weed off the bottom and round the prop. There was little point in stopping to clear it - past experience said more would very quickly take its place so we just crawled along through the little hamlet of Nordelph where a once handsome tug 'Icarus' lay mouldering under trees and near it the sunken remains of what looked to have possibly been a narrowboat hire craft from 'Nordelph Marine'.
Off to the side of the Creek we watched four huge tractors ploughing and potato planting across the vast prairie like fen. I wonder if this was the farm? There's certainly money in 'taters.
Tonight we are at the lock moorings and I have cleared the prop of a bin bag full of weed, plastic bags, baler twine, branches and general rubbish. Late tomorrow morning we head out onto the half mile tidal stretch of Great Ouse, ensuring we miss the mudbank outside the lock before going back in through Denver Sluice lock onto the non-tidal river and heading for Ely.


  1. We were lucky to be told about the "liquid mud" not water in the creek when we refuelled at March. Still the Middle Levels are unique and we are headed there again in July.
    Ken& Sue nb Cleddau

  2. Won't be long 'till you are pinging along on the Ouse. Say Hi to Paul from me and make sure you get 10/10 on the way out for the turn.. You wont have a problem with that. ;)

  3. I think we must have moored in front of you by Upwell church - we did catch the tide on the Friday!