Start 8:45 am, finish 6pm
Middle Level Navigations
24 miles, 2 locks
A late start because we wanted to make the most of being able to use the showers at the leisure centre in Whittlesea. It opens at 6:30, so we were up early and both showered and breakfasted by 8:30. We waited until the boat breasted up to us was ready to go, and then we were off.
I didn’t see much of today – I had work to be getting on with and made the most of the lock free pounds when I wasn’t needed to be inside using my laptop. James was happy at the tiller, as although the route’s boring, at least it was novel doing it in Willow. The going was slow, but not quite as bad as we’d expected, and eventually we made it to Marmont Priory lock, which was looking lovely in the spring sunshine. Willow has never been this far East, as Marmont Priory was not lengthened until 1998, after Willow’s last Fenland adventure with her previous owner. Margaret the lock keeper and her daughter helped us through and then it was on to Upwell/Outwell, where the channel runs down the middle of the village street. The twin villages were looking gorgeous, with daffodils and celandines lining the banks. Here, we were in tickover all the way – it was too shallow to go any faster, but we made slow and steady progress. We stopped for half an hour on the town staithe for a breather, and to clean the propellor blades which had picked up a fair bit of weed.
Beyond the villages we were able to go a little bit faster, and made it to Salters Lode at 6pm exactly. We’ve been and spoken to Paul, the lockie, who confirms we are on for 6:30am tomorrow to lock out on the level tide, then we wait just outside the lock on the wall until Denver are ready to receive us. That’s the plan anyway! Fingers crossed.