This evening we find ourselves at a small hamlet called Chapel Hill, which is mostly caravan site I think. We are moored at the junction of the River Witham and the Sleaford Navigation, otherwise known as the Kyme Eau.
From all reports the latter is a pretty little canal that used to run for about fifteen miles all the way down to Sleaford. But apparently, though the canal is navigable officially for about seven and a half miles as far as Cobblers lock, after a mile and a half from the mouth and after the first lock, the waterway narrows considerably so that beyond this point there is nowhere to turn round for coming back. Most boaters if they are on their own, only go as far as this first lock.
To get right to the end at Cobblers lock one needs to breast up backwards to a companion boat so that one of you tows the other down to the end and the other does the powering back. A bit like the old fashioned steam railway trains with an engine at each end. A neat idea I think! On the way back from Boston I expect I shall want to go down as far as I can anyway to see what it’s all about.
Today, though the sky has remained mostly and darkly overcast and we have been treated only occasionally to happy glimpses of the Sun, with the wind blowing more gently from a southern direction, the air temperature has been much warmer. Hopefully for good have we shaken off the strong north westerly breeze that has been chilling our very bones for many days.
We’ve made good time covering twelve miles in three hours. But this of course is nothing on the type of wide river that we find ourselves now.
There has been plenty of wildlife again; diving Grebes that don’t allow me to get close enough to take a decent picture of them and Herons, Swans and Mallards by the score with the odd Little Gull appearing now and again soaring in the wind.
We’re beginning to see more water bird families now too and certainly the Mallards are busy and the Greylag Geese. There have been one or two Swans and also Coots sitting on their nests but as yet no little ones have been seen.
I had a nice surprise today though, when I spotted for the first time a male Shelduck (Is that a Sheldrake?) He was up on top of the bank and when I first saw him I thought I was looking at the silhouette of a large Mallard, but as soon as I put the binoculars on him, his dark head, predominantly white body and bright orange neck band immediately proclaimed him for what he was. He wasn’t as bold as the Mallards either and flew off before I could get close enough for a decent photo of him.
We came into moor early this afternoon but the pontoon wasn’t long enough to take us on our own so we are moored alongside a boat called ‘Medos’ owned by Dave and Dee. The former noticed my fancy rope work on the Swan’s neck and confessed that, in vain he has been trying to make a Turks Head for ages. He asked if I would show him how I did mine. So this evening we’ve been sitting in the Boatman’s Cabin with our bits of string doing three part Turks Heads. I think he might have got the hang of it now.
Then just as I began to write this I had a lovely surprise when my friend Ann, who owns ‘Miss B’ on the River Wey, gave me a call. It was lovely to hear her voice and it cheered me up enormously.