Having spent yesterday moored up at Upware enjoying the weather, drinking wine and listening to the tennis we moved on today and decided to go up Reach Lode. There are three lodes that meet at Upware and we’d already travelled up Wicken Lode but didn’t quite know what to expect with Reach Lode.
The first part is relatively deep and open with lovely views across the marshes which are teaming with a wide variety of wading birds. Beside the new bridge that the Lodes Way cyclepath uses to cross Reach Lode are a set of picnic benches with an unusual sculpture.
After this point the waterway went truly African Queen on us. The weed built up and the lode got narrower and shallower.
We debated reversing back the couple of miles we’d already travelled but on the principle of ‘in for a penny in for a pound’ we decided to carry on – how hard could the last mile be?
The answer to that was – pretty hard. We were travelling at less than a mile an hour and had to keep stopping to clear the prop. Gordon spent more time with this arm up to the shoulder in the weed hatch than he did steering. I was given the job of keeping the front of the boat clear of weed with the boathook.
From my point of view the frequent stops were a real bonus. After I’d done my weed clearing duties I was free to watch the incredible display being put on by the copious numbers of dragonflies and damselflies. It was amazing. I started by trying to take a few photographs but dragonflies aren’t known for sitting still for portraits so I ended up with…..
….lots of empty spaces where dragonflies used to be…..
….one or two shots of blurred wings…..
….and one shot where you can just about make out a dragonfly disguised as a reed.
In the end I gave up the photography lark and just sat back and enjoyed the spectacular show. Afterwards when I consulted the internet I found out that I’d seen Emperor Dragonflies, Brown Hawkers, Broad Bodied Chasers, Red-eyed Damselflies, Small Red-Eyed Damselflies and Banded Demoiselles. Gordon was having a hell of a hard time clearing weed but I was really enjoying myself.
It took over two hours but we eventually made it to the end of the Lode and with much to-ing and fro-ing we managed to get the boat turned around.
The journey back was much easier because we’d already beaten a path through the weed. I’m not sure if Gordon would agree but to my mind it was well worth his effort!
We then went on to go up Burwell Lode which proved a bit of an anticlimax with none of the drama of Reach Lode and nowhere near the number of dragonflies. Still we did see some baby swans with their father on the bank making sure that all was secure from the landward side.
Our mooring at Burwell village last night was lovely.
I found myself quite sad when we left the lodes this morning to go back onto the Great Ouse and head towards St Ives and ultimately Bedford. Even though it’s still very beautiful and the weather is still glorious it feels to me like we’ve left a charmed country and have had to come back to the real world. We’ll definitely be re-visiting the lodes on our way back .