Written at Bardney Moorings on Monday 16th May
On and off today it has been raining for most of the time and blowing a gale from the west and as I write now, snugly made fast to the visitor pontoon on the River Witham at the little fenland village of Bardney, it has just begun to rain again.
The passage from Lincoln apart from the weather was quite uneventful though I have to disagree with other travellers that I’ve heard from, who declare this stretch is too boring. It is made up of long straight reaches yes, and does have the same high banks that we encountered on the Fossedyke. However the water level is lower here relative to the land so one can view the surrounding landscape quite happily over the top. Whereas the high banks on the Fossedyke were earthworks or levees and the land on the other side was down and hidden below them. We’ve descended through two locks since leaving Lincoln not because the contours of the land have changed but because the level of the Witham is lower than the Fossedyke. Hence the difference in the view.
Had we been heading into the weather today conditions would have been terrible as the fresh, gusting to gale force, wind was flinging the rain along before it. Even the Swans, who normally need a long runway to get airborne were managing to get off the water within about three body lengths and as many wing flaps. Their normally inscrutable faces mind you, were looking a bit surprised as they swept upwards and over us so easily.
As it was, we had it all behind us and we were rolling along on the swell. To keep the wet from entering the Boatman’s Cabin, I repeated my previous procedure on the Trent; I closed the after doors behind me on the top step, slid the lid right up to my stomach and hoisted my umbrella over my shoulder to keep the nearly horizontal rain from entering from behind.
The nearby commuter villages of Washingborough, Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton we passed in rapid succession though they were only visible at a distance and were not actually on the riverside. Even the centre of Bardney Village is a twenty minute walk from the pontoon where we are moored.
Earlier I walked ashore to find the shop that the ‘First Mate Guide’ indicated was in the village, to buy some bread and milk but found that it had shut down. However instead I found a large Co-op that had opened recently which was a better idea anyway with their larger stock of provisions. Small village shops tend to have very little.
I walked across to visit the local parish church of St Laurence and was most impressed with it. It has been well looked after, but relatively unaltered structurally since it was first built in the Fifteenth Century. However the Victorians had had a go as is usual and not only added stained glass in the windows but also painted a beautiful mural around the chancel. Recently this has been renovated and the result is startling but lovely I think.
There was a lady called Jenny in the church as I arrived repairing one of the door curtains and she was happy to behave as my guide all around the church. It was she who told me of the existence of the Co-op after I indicated that I was disappointed that the shop was closed and she also went on to add that the village was much quieter these days since the local sugar beet factory had closed down. There were lots of businesses not able to exist anymore and the previous local workforce was finding it difficult to readjust.
I am lacking a strong signal again today so the photos which I have taken will have to come later but I was most impressed with Stamp End lock in the centre of Lincoln; it is like nothing I’ve seen before. Though the bottom gate is quite conventional with paddles (or sluices as they are called in this part of the country) the top gate is an electrically operated guillotine and works very efficiently, even though as one passes beneath one gets showered with drips of dirty water. So long as one has a BW key it’s fine and easy to work.
Weather permitting we shall set off again tomorrow morning though I’m not sure how far we shall get. We shall need at least two more days travel till we get to Boston for sure. But that is the beauty of this life; every day I have the option of being able to make it up as I go along without having to discuss it with anybody else..... Except ‘Futurest’... Maybe I should consult her. But that is never much use. Being inanimate she never answers me back.