The Cruise of the Dondevoy


I set off at about midday, stopping shortly afterwards to get some petrol, and to look for Mr Murfitt's house (the man who had offered me the petrol drum), but I failed to find it, and continued towards Denver Sluice at a fair speed, as I had been told that the Old Bedford Lock would be open soon after 4 pm. It is a very pleasant stretch of river, winding gently, and full of wild life, swans, ducks, swallows, great crested grebes, skylarks, and the occasional yellowhammer. The weather was cold and windy, but the sun came out later and warmed me up a bit.

I reached Denver Sluice at about 3 pm, where the lock keeper informed me that the tide would not be in until eight or nine o'clock, by which time the Old Bedford would be closed, but that he would wake me up at seven o'clock in the morning; I hope I shall be able to face the world, and the tidal river, that early.

Denver Sluice is very impressive, with its massive guillotine sluice gates, and its two-way lock with the balance beams overlapping each other. The gates are rather leaky, and the water swirls ominously far below; I do not enjoy the prospect of navigating such water at any time, let alone before breakfast.

Plan of the "Denver Complex" From Eddy Edwards' "The Ouse Washes Website"

Aerial view of the "Denver Complex" from the North. From the National Education Network site

The whole area is a mass of waterways; just below the sluice, the New Bedford River stretches away, twenty miles in a straight line. Above the lock is the sluice for the Relief Channel to King's Lynn, the outflow of the Cut-Off Channel that skirts the Fens, and the inlet of the new scheme which takes water by a devious underground route to drought-ridden Essex. Further on, in the direction I am going, is the Old Bedford Sluice, and the now disused entrance to the Well Creek route through the Middle Level.

From GreenVenturesTV's YouTube channel.

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