Sunday, July 13, 2008

Exploring the waterways

That is what we are doing with our narrowboat Moore 2 Life. Do have a look at our website It contains much more information and pictures about our adventures.
We are now on the Bedford Ouse. Back at Ely it was the Ely Ouse. Joining the two is the Old West River and collectively they are the River Great Ouse. Each river has its own character. The Ely Ouse travels through the fens from Denver to the junction with the Cam. It has high flood banks to keep the fens dry.
The Old West River winds its way through the fens as the banks become lower. After 28 miles from Denver we reach the lock near Erith. It lets us up to the higher level of the tidal section of the Ouse. It is tidal all the way back to the sea down the New Bedford River bypassing Ely. After all the recent rain the Bedford Ouse is running quite fast. A family of seals at Erith have produced a pup this year.
As we travel towards St Ives several locks take us up and away from the fenlands. New moorings in St. Ives were full of boats so we stopped just outside the town. A short walk gets us in for shops and market.
It is here that Oliver Cromwell lived between 1631 and 1636.
The river continues past Hemingford, Huntingdon and Godmanchester.

There are many old mills along the way. The millers were very protective of their water supply and became concerned when locks were built to create the ‘navigation’. The millers were using the green power of the river. One mill at Houghton is now owned by the National Trust and has been converted to hydro electric power. It is producing stone ground flour from crops grown locally. We have just made a loaf of bread from flour made at the wind mill in Wicken Fen and very nice it is too!

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