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Wednesday 31 July 2019

A bit of a drag in the Drizzle.

The weather in the morning was very glum but as we wanted a paper and a few bits and pieces we decided to walk into Brandon. After all we had come this far we may as well see what was at the end of the line!

It seems such a shame that the built the lock so small as there are efforts to reopen the navigation all the way to Thetford. A route was surveyed in 2003 and four locks were required. I wonder if it will ever happen. The decision to build this small lock may come back to bite them. In 2008 the navigation was pushed 2.5 miles to Santon Downham bridge where there are GOBA moorings too.

These are the moorings at below Brandon Lock, just room for about one and a half narrow boats.

Victoria Avenue was planted to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee and stretches for 3/4 mile from the town centre to St. Peter's Church. It makes a great route into town avoiding the traffic.

From Brandon Bridge looking back towards the lock you can see that it doesn't look like the river is over used.  There are supposed to be some more EA moorings on the other side of the bridge behind me.

Brandon has been associated with flint knapping since the stone age. Grimes graves where the stone age people mined for flint 10' down in the earth and piles of bits of flint where they constructed tools by fling knapping. There is a pub called the flint Knapper. Fli by 1841ng was used in guns etc from about 1790 here. Even new buildings, like the Tesco Metro in the village give a nod to flint in their architecture. These old buildings show the material off very well. After about 1840 the main business of the town was the processing of rabbit skins from warrens in Thetford Forest. They were used in felt and hat making and by 1891 around 400 women were employed. The business continued up to WWI.

It wasn't raining as such but it was damp and was like walking through a cloud as it must have been almost 100% humidity. You got wet just being outside. As I stood on the back after getting back to the boat I just got wet despite no rain! No photos were taken other than this one of cows following me down the river.

Once we cleared Little Ouse River we continued north for a little until we moored up on a lonely GOBA mooring just north of the Denver Cruising Club. We had a surfeit of plastic that we had saved for my eco brick. This is when you get a plastic bottle and basically stuff plastic stuff that can't be recycled and stuff it in as tight as possible. These then do not breakdown and can therefore be used for building. This was a a full plastic bag of plastic bags, crisp packets etc all cut up and ready to push in a 2lt bottle.  

It has to be packed in tightly so as the bottle doesn't deform when it has a load on it. when full it should weigh at least 1/3rd of the capacity. That is a 1 litre bottle should weigh at least 350 gms! For more information please see
All that plastic actually only fills the bottle this much, and the top part is not really compact yet!

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Brandon Bound.

The morning started lovely and sunny, but by the time we were ready to go it had become overcast and started to drizzle. We had already had the knock from the mooring officer as we had first been noticed the other day, but we left and came back from Cambridge. It was within the 48hrs allowed, but of course you aren't supposed to return! It was 1800 when we saw the gap so we used it and the officer was understanding, thankfully as over staying is £100 a day!

After about an hour up the Great Ouse we came to the Ship Inn and turned into the Little Ouse River, otherwise known as Brandon Creek.

At the beginning of the river there is a long line of moorings, The Little Ouse Moorings. There is a pontoon that has diesel and gas for sale, but not on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday! Eventually you are alone and come to the Little Ouse Bridge. It doesn't really look capable of carrying cars, but it does.

The weather remained drizzly and was quite windy, making me feel cold on the after deck. Helen decided to stay inside and make a coffee cake etc. There are very long lines of huge poplars that did a good job of cutting out the wind, but also any view.

A little further on is this ruined timber house that, when in one piece must have been a great hang out as the view was fantastic and with the river just there.

Redmere Bridge looks like a railway bridge but it is a road bridge just connecting drove roads across the Fens. By now the weather had dried up somewhat, good timing for Helen as the cake was finished and she popped out to see the world go by.

The weather was mainly behind me and as it was blowing the leaves away from us it revealed the silvery underneath that gave an almost misty look to the green leaves.

The flood banks spread out and the river meanders between them in great loops. There are several meres that must fill up when the river levels are high. There were plenty of birds using them today. In just about the middle of the picture above the tree line you can just make out the tops of three raydomes at RAF Feltham. This WWII Bomber site became the site of the American Space satellite surveillance force. It also house the barracks for the Americans working at Mildenhall. 

There is only one set of moorings on the river, other than those EA ones at the end. This GOBA site is probably one of the more remote of their moorings.

We passed under the Hockwold cum Wilton bridge that also connects Lakenheath. The airfield was very quiet so I'm not sure it is active at present as it is set to be the home of the new American F 35A Lightening multi role plane with an influx of over 1000 Americans. This is set for 2020/21, so perhaps they are getting it all ready.

We soon came across the Cut Off Relief Channel and a high concrete aqueduct. It also has two sluice gates. Open to navigation today, but when the river is in flood the other gates are opened to dump the water into the relief channel to take it quickly down to the sea.

Once past the Cuto Off Channel the views open up and the railway starts to get closer. It doesn't come out very clearly in the photo but in the rough grass in the mid depth are three tumuli and on the other side of the river is the site of a Romano-British villa, as well as a Saxon defence line between the River Wissey and Little Ouse, built in the 6th or 7th Century in the form of a ditch called the Foss Ditch.

The Little Ouse River was known to be navigable in the 1200's and improvements were made after 1670 when the Denver Sluice was built and altered the drainage. This took the form of building staunches to raise the water level for navigation. They were rebuilt between 1827 and 1835 and this is one of them that can just be seen. It is called Sheepwash. The staunch was a gate in the barrier across the river that could be closed to raise the water level above it. To open it though you had to drain the water of the pound.

The Ely to Norwich railway crosses the river and seems to have a train at least every hour or so. As the sign indicates you can pass down either channel.

After the railway bridge the river really narrows and on one side is also very shallow. I was glad we didn't need to avoid any other boats along this stretch.

Eventually it opens up into a wide pool and the lock and weir appears. There is another half mile of navigable river but the lock is only 35' long, although I understand a 45' boat can pass with care, and diagonal. Fortunately the moorings were free so we winded and sat there for a cup of tea. I then sluiced the mud from Salter's Lode off the boat. By the time I had finished that the rain set in one again and it didn't stop. We therefore decided not to leave the boat and found several jobs to do. I understand that this is the furthest east that you can travel on a boat our size, connected with the system.

Monday 29 July 2019

We came, we saw we conquered the Cam.

There is so much to see in Cambridge, with historic buildings abounding. We decided to stay on for the morning before heading back down the Cam.

Another fantastic gateway that seems to have recently been repainted and gilded. This is the Great Gate into the Frst Court of Christ's College. This college first started in 1437 as God's House by a William Byngham, a London parish priest, for training school teachers. It's original location was taken over by King's College so it moved to this site and was re-instituted in 1448. Later the main benefactor was the mother of Henry VII, Lady Margret Beaufort and she developed it further and changed the name to Christ's College. This gate, like that of St. John's has the mythical Yale holding the coat of arms and surrounded by the Tudor Rose and the Portcullis of the Beaufort's. The statue above is of her holding a bible. The Great Gate was completed before she died in 1509. The gates look a little out of proportion as the road level has risen and the bottom part of the gate has been cropped.

This is the Gate House and Porter's Lodge for the first court of King's College. It was built between 1824 and 1828 by William Wilkins in the Gothic Style. Kings College was 'started' by Henry VI but its development was disrupted by the Wars of the Roses. Henry VII took it on and Henry VIII completed it.

This is a detail of the Wilkins Building that is just to the south of King's Great Gatehouse.  It was completed in 1828 by William Wilkins. Half the buildings in King's Parade had to be knocked down to construct it. It also houses the Hall where the High Table was. Latin graces was read out and the Master's eat high quality food, and the students didn't! Females were not allowed in the Hall at all, even to work, until 1958! It is still the dining room, now canteen style, but also for formal dinners.

 This is part of the screen that runs from the gatehouse to the north and joins up with the world famous Kings Chapel. The screen hides the front court gardens. Kings College Chapel was started in 1446 and took a hundred and one years to complete due to the Wars of the Roses etc.

This college is notable as its court is open and not enclosed by walls. It is St. Catherine College. It was founded in 1473 by Robert Woodlark who was actually the provost of Kin's College next door. It cost him a large part of his fortune, and it is said some funds diverted from King's College. It was originally Katherine Hall but changed its name in 1860 to it's present name. St. Catherine of Alexandria was the patron saint of learning.

Helen really wanted to see the Bridge of Sighs so we walked around to see if we could get a glimpse, but failed. I'm sure about 25 years ago we just walked through St. John's College and over it, but now it is £10! so we decided to make do with this, the Mathematical Bridge. It's proper name, believe it of not, is Wooden Bridge. It was designed by William Etheridge and built by James Essex in 1747. The 'original' bridge was where Garret Hostel Bridge is today. It is Garde II Listed but has been rebuilt twice, once in 1866 and again in 1905. Although it looks arched it is actually constructed out of straight timbers.

This is the front of the Senate House, where the Graduation ceremonies take place. (see yesterday's blog). It was intended to form one side of a quadrangle that was never completed. The building was officially opened in 1730, but in fact the west end of the building (to the left) was no completed until 1768!

These are the statues above the Great Gate of Gonville and Caius College facing Senate House Hill. Top Left is John Caius. He was at Cambridge as a student but went on to make a fortune. In 1559 he helped refound the college and it was then that the Caius was added. His proper name was Keys, but he loved all things classical so changed the spelling. Top right is William Bateman who died in 1355 and he was the Bishop of Norwich. Then lower statue depicts Edmond Gonville who was the first founder in 1348. He was a parish priest and died three years after his college was founded. Bishop Bateman of Norwich took on the task, despite founding Trinity College himself. He moved the college from its old site, where Corpus Christi is today, to the present site.

This is a view down Trinity Lane. Gonville College is on the left, but the range with all the chimneys are some of the rooms for the students and fellow. It was constructed by Neville  between 1592 and 1615. Jusr round the corner, out of sight, is the Queen's Gate, named after Queen Elizabeth I.

Viewed from across the River Cam i the Wren Library of Trinity College. The library was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed the interior and bookcase. Grinlin Gibbons did the carvings on the end of each case. Wren also designed the Lincoln Cathedral Library. The library is in the upper floor, and is just one room. It has been open to the public since it opened in 1695.

Time caught up with us and we had to retrace our steps and head down the Cam, back to the Great Ouse. We soon passed under Victoria Bridge that was started in 1889 and opened in 1890. It is said these arms belong to the city of Cambridge and the University, but neither of them seem to match this one.

As you approach Fen Ditton, near the Plough Inn the rule of the road changes for a short distance. There doesn't seem to be any physical reason for this to happen, maybe it is something to do with rowing, or some other University reason.

This peacock was resting on a boat moored near Fen Ditton.

This cow was just keeping an eye on us as we approached Upware and the Five Miles from Anywhere pub, that despite its location seemed to be very busy. Just near here there is a side tributary, Reach Lode, that is navigable, but we have no time this time round.

We carried on to make a few miles. The plan was to stop for water in Ely and then stop at a GOBA mooring a little further on. As it was there was a cruiser moored on the services and there was a gap on the moorings just our size, so we used it.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Collecting Colleges and curiosities.

It was just too hot once we had moored so we sat in the shade of a tree and had a drink, and a rest. After an hour or so, and as the heat of the day was dissipating to a more bearable 35C we headed into the city. We walked over Jesus Lock weir and were soon amongst the colleges.

This is the Great Gate of Trinity College that leads to the Great Court. Trinity College was formed of a couple of older colleges by Henry VIII just before he died. That is the reason that there is a statue of him above the gate. The statue seems to be holding the orb and sceptre but the sceptre or sword is actually a chair leg! Nobody knows when or how, or by whom this was done. The Coat of Arms below him is that of Edward III who founded King's Hall that was one of the merged colleges.

The Great Gate of St. John's College that was founded in 1511 by an endowment from Lady Margret Beaufort. Her coat or arms is above the door. On each side are her ensigns, the red rose and the portcullis. Either side of the coat or arms are Yales, mythical beasts that have the head of a goat with swivelling horns, the body of an antelope and the tail of an elephant. In the tabernacle above is a statue of St. John the Evangelist who has an eagle at his feet and holding a symbolic poisoned chalice. St. John The Evangelist Hospital was on this site and was converted to a college in 1511. 

The Old Divinity School is not that old as it was built in 1879. It is actually on the site of the original Divinity school of 1400 and was the centre of the university. Now it is part of St. John's College which is opposite. The architect was Basil Champney and is called Gothic or Tudor style. The statues were added in empty niches after it was built in 1890, and are of Theologians that are related to the University. From left to right, John Pearson, Saint John Fisher, Thomas Cranmer and Joseph Barber Lightfoot. the higher statue to the right is of Lancelot Andrews.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is more commonly known as the Round Church for some reason. It was built in 1130 by a group of Austin Canons and was built to be be like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It's congregation out grew the premises in 1994 and is now housing the Cambridge Story.

This is a classic matter of missing a lot if you don't look up. This is 12 St. John's Street and was built in the mid to late 1800's and was for a tailor's It is now the premises of the Honk Kong Fusion establishment.

This is the Gate of Honour of Gonville and Caius (I think said as 'Keys')College and is making a good umbrella for Helen as a sharp shower of rain passes through. It is the most direct route to the Senate House and Library of the college but it is only used following students graduation. It was built in 1575 and the hexagonal tower has a sundial on each face.

Looking east down Senate House Passage the Gonville and Caius College court is to the left. The building to the right is the University Senate House that built in Portland stone between 1722 and 1730 and is mainly used for the colleges of the university's graduation ceremonies. The building in the centre is the eastern side of the Tree Court of Gonville and Caius College. It was built in 1870 by the architect Alfred Waterhouse. Senate House Passage has only one building that is not either listed as Grade I or II*, making it just about the most historic street in the country.

This is the west end of Kings Chapel Cambridge, looking south. It was started in 1446 by Henry VI, but took over a hundred years to complete. It has the largest fan vaulting in the world and some magnificent stained glass.

It seems that a feature of many of the college buildings are these oriel windows. This one is at the back of the University of Cambridge Old Schools building. This is the administration offices of the University and is a Grade I listed building. The original 1440's buildings were demolished in 1829. This window is in the west range that was built between 1864 and 1867 designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

Garret Hostel Lane runs between Trinity College New Court to the left and Trinity Hall Fellows garden to the right. I am standing on Garret Hostel Bridge that was built in 1960, the eighth on the site. It was designed by Tim Guy Morgan who was at the time an undergraduate at Jesus College. The students call it 'Orgasm Bridge' due to the feeling of relief when you get to top of the steep bridge and are able to coast down the other side on your bike! It was one of the first post-tensioned concrete bridges in the country.

I found this statue to be very fine. They are found on either side of the Bronze Roll of Honour to the men of Cambridgeshire and the Suffolk Regiment who were killed or died of their wounds or disease during the Boer War.  On the other side the the soldier is in the bush dress with slouch hat. It was unveiled in 1905.

This is looking to the south west down Portugal Place that makes a nice short cut from Bridge Street, across Jesus Green and back to the boat. It is probably named after the delivery of port by ship to the nearby quayside for the high tables of the colleges. In the background is the parish church of St. Clement.

Saturday 27 July 2019

Coming into Cambridge.

Stourbridge Common was mainly enclosed in 1811 and had been the site of the biggest fair in Europe! King John granted a fair in 1199 and it grew and grew, bringing lots of visitors an revenue to the town and university. right up to the late 1700's when it went into decline. There are cattle grazing, like everybody, wanted to cool down but they needed a drink more.

The Cambridge Museum of Technology was an early example of integration. The Cheddars Lane pumping station was built in 1894. The steam to drive the pump was raised by burning household rubbish. The sewage went to a sewage farm a couple of miles away and there was used to grow crops that were used to feed the horses that pulled the carts that collected the rubbish to take to the pumping station. I think this bank used to have loads of boats tied up. I think that the Council has been moving them on when they can.

As you move closer to Jesus Lock you pass a series of Cambridge University college boat house. This was is Emmanuel College boat house. It also house boats for Hughes Hall College and Anglia Ruskin University.

Tgis great weather vane sits above the Trinity Hall College's boat house. I think 'Nostrum Vox' means, 'our voice' or voices.

This is Lady Margret Boat House next to Victoria Bridge that was opened in 1889/90. We were nearly as far as we could go.

We tied up outside Jesus Green Lido to fill up with water and were amazed at the constant queue that there was to go and use the outdoor pool.  The Jesus Green Lido was built in 1923 and is open between May and September. It is one of the longest swimming pools in the country at 100yds long, but it is only 15yds wide! It is 3'9" deep at each end but 8'2" in the middle where diving is allowed. I was more surprised that as people arrived they were shocked to see such a queue. The hottest day of the year!! Dooh!!!! Once filled up we moved over to the other side of the river and tied up.

Jesus Lock is the head of navigation for us, but boats with a lower air draft can access it over the winter period when the backs above the lock are not completely rammed with punts!

The day was being largely touted as going to be the hottest day since records began in England. This was the temperature we recorded. I don't think it was actually the highest. The upper number is the temp. in the boat and the lower outside. The steel gets so hot you can't touch it so must radiate the heat to make it 40C. It turns out that the highest temperature of 38.7C was recorded in Cambridge Botanical Gardens, that is 101.7F!!! No wonder that I felt that I had been in a tumble drier after standing on the back of the boat.

This is looking up to Magdalene Bridge where a lot of tourists will hire their punt and punter. You can join a load of other 'punters' and take a seat in a punt with others for 45 min with the 'driver and guide, all for £12!

When I first saw this building I thought that it was the side of an old station. It is in fact the Corn Exchange. It was built in 1874.75 in the Florentine Gothic Style. From the outset it was used as the trading floor and a concert venue. The trading discontinued in 1965 and is now a venue for Cambridge.

With the heat of the day we sort out a pub. One of Helen's friends used to play at her aunt's pub in Cambridge, called the Eagle, so we went to find it. It is a nice old coaching in with a courtyard. The righting you can see on the ceilig was burned on by candles, cigarette lighters and lipstick during WWII by RAF and USAF crew. It is also the place where Francis Crick and James Watson, who were working at the Cavendish Institue nearby, used to work on their ideas about the Double Helix of DNA, and in 1953 their discovery was announced to the world from here. Quite a nice pub for a drink, despite the prices!!