Our life aboard Ewn Ha Cul is pretty relaxed at the best of times but the last couple of days have been even more so with our trip up Wicken Lode off the River Cam into the National Trust Nature Reserve. We’d been told that it was worth the effort and it truly was.
It’s a tight turn to get onto the lode and after that it’s pretty narrow all the way along.
We’d been told there was room to turn around at the end but we were a touch nervous until we actually got there. Two lodes meet at the end and there’s enough room to comfortably turn our 57 foot narrowboat – you could probably manage it with an even longer one. Importantly there’s also a GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association) mooring where we stayed overnight. No traffic noise, no other boaters, just friendly walkers and cyclists enjoying the area as much as we were.
We downloaded a map for a 6 mile walk around the fens and set out just after we arrived. It was a glorious day, a little hot for walking but no hills so not too bad. Trouble is the walk was obviously written by someone who’d never done it. At the bridge below we were instructed you to cross over and keep Burwell Lode on our right until we got to Reach Lode. Great, we thought, there must be a bridge over Reach Lode and walked the mile down there.
Not a bridge in sight so our 6 mile walk had just become an 8 mile walk as we trekked back up to the bridge to come back on the correct side!
This extra mileage was just the encouragement we needed to add another little bit onto the walk and head for lunch and a cool drink in the Five Miles From Anywhere Inn. A couple of ice cold G & Ts later I was feeling quite human again.
Back to the boat and there was time to appreciate the mooring properly. It was a beautiful evening with cuckoos calling, reed warblers warbling, dragonflies everywhere and water so clear I could see the fish darting around my feet. If only they’d been trained to give me a pedicure!
This area is Britain’s oldest nature reserve. “On May 1st 1899 the National Trust purchased its first two acre strip for £10 – 55 conveyances later the reserve is over 800 acres.” It’s a truly magic spot with plenty of walking and cycling trails and loads of wildlife to spot.
Amongst its many bird hides the reserve has one of truly novel design.
In order to help keep the scrubland at bay the Trust has introduced wild Konik ponies – I came across them on an early morning walk – quite a sight!
Before we left the next day we went to visit Wicken Mill and buy some locally ground organic flour.
A great way to end a wonderful visit – I have no doubt that, like Arnie, we’ll be back.