|Moored on Reach Lode by the bridge over Wicken Lode|
You left us at Prickwillow on the River Lark and you pick us up again on the Cambridgeshire Lodes; at a delightfully tranquil mooring by the start of the Wicken Lode. Those of you who know your fenland geography will know that we must have passed through Ely on the way and indeed we did. We left Harry on the fine waterfront there while we headed off by train to visit the kids. We will certainly be returning so I will say more about the city and its sumptuous cathedral on our return.
I have also overlooked any real description of the lower reaches of the Great Ouse itself. To be honest, there isn't a lot to say: it's wide, straight and offers far reaching views across the distant fenland fields - those at the river's edge being often obscured by the high flood banks.
But back to the Lodes. Not far upstream from Ely the Great Ouse divides with the Cam (and us) heading off to the left. The end of navigation for powered boats on the Cam used to be Cambridge but few visitors bother now as the Cam Conservators demand payment of a fiendishly expensive extra licence for their final few miles - thus Conserving the Cam and the city from boating visitors.
Instead, we went as far as the entertainingly titled Five Miles From Anywhere pub at Upware - which is certainly at least five miles from anywhere - where Reach Lode lock takes one into the Lodes.
It was way back in Whittlesey near the start of the Middle Level that I worked my last lock which is probably why I fumbled with this one a bit, not helped by a warning notice saying that the lock would start to reset itself after 15 minutes whether we were out or not. In fact the water level changed only slightly and the resetting process simply lifts both guillotine gates a little for flood control.
|A wilderness landscape of reeds, sedge and water|
|The semi-wild Konik horses introduced from Poland to graze the fen|
From Upware the initial Reach Lode splits into three. First the narrow Wicken Lode turns left under a bridge and runs for just over a mile through the National Trust Nature Reserve of Wicken Fen to moorings and a turning point at the end. Nervous of its narrowness and also our draft we headed straight on instead to the next junction taking Burwell Lode, longest of the three, where it splits left from Reach Lode.
|Yes, it's a hovercraft spotted at the edge of Burwell Lode|
It was easy enough winding at the end where there's a sort of T-junction with a feeder stream coming in from each side plus a pleasant 48hour EA mooring.
|Another peaceful spot, the Burwell 48 hour mooring|
It's a pointer to Burwell's prosperous past as an inland port - the houses and barns were built to serve wharves and canals that fed into the Lode. It's the same again at Reach, whose Lode we didn't visit (you can get over-loded!).
Nor did we take the boat down Wicken Lode, chickening out and mooring at the EA visitor mooring by its start as we were worried about the depth and the weed. Just as well, since when we walked down it we discovered the mooring at the end was full up with four boats.