The Cambridgeshire lodes are ancient waterways probably built by the Romans as canals. They linked smaller villages to the river Cam and were busy routes until the railways came along.
Yesterday we left our mooring at Upware to go up and down the three navigable lodes to Wicken Fen, Burwell and Reach. Wicken lode crosses Wicken Fen,
an old nature reserve managed by the National Trust leading to Adventurers’ Fen. At the end, despite our various maps claiming the turning room is for 50’ boats, there was plenty of room to turn a 57’ Tacet. We had our coffee break here in the quiet, peacefulness of the reserve listening to the birds.
A bird hide on the fen, we spotted the twitchers, I don’t know if they spotted us!
Then we made our way back along the very clear, clean, narrow waterway to take the turning to Burwell.
Approaching the end of the Burwell lode, and again there was plenty of room to turn and a welcome from the other visitor on the mooring. We had our lunch here before going off for a walk around the village. It’s a lovely old village with a mix of old and newer houses, useful shops for last minute supplies for dinner tonight.
Then it was back to Reach lode and the final leg to try to reach Reach!
Now this was narrow………
not very deep………
and slow going………
But it meant we could see the water lilies,
and the irises close up,
and eventually the end!
Where this time it was more difficult to turn, we were stirring up the bottom and needed a pole to push the front around.
Grandly called Reach Port, the information board explains how since medieval times the lode was used to transport clunch, a chalky building material to Cambridge and Ely. It was a busy route from the 14th –18th centuries, with the final cargo being carried in the 1930’s. Today it was a quiet stopping place for tea and biscuits before our trek back through the partially cleared route we had made back to Upware lock and back to the River Cam.
We had arranged to meet for dinner with the Willows at Clayhithe . That is with James and Amy from MB Willow, an historic working boat known as a Severner, which they have recently purchased and are working hard to fit her out as their home. You can read all about it here. We enjoyed looking around at all James’ handiwork in fitting out the kitchen and bathroom, at the painting Amy has begun, and hearing their plans for making a great space to live in. With their love of the history of the working boats and finding old bits and pieces to furnish Willow, I’m sure it will be a lovely, happy home.
We enjoyed sharing a meal with them back on Tacet, we may well see them again in Cambridge.
Upware – Lodes – Clayhithe
14.5 miles, 3 locks