Tuesday: setting off from our field near Ditchford and bumbling further down river the weather wasn’t that great but the scenery pleasant enough, with the occasional navigational challenge thrown in. Wouldn’t fancy Irthlingborough Road Bridge when there’s a serious flow on, but the cook coped admirably.
Just before there, we locked down through Higham Lock between Irthlingborough and Higham Ferrers, where some chaps were digging post holes. The lock is in the middle of a small nature reserve, and they were preparing for some new marker/interpretive boards. One of them mentioned that one of the small bits of water was called Otter Lake, whereupon the chief otter spotter got very excited: even she misses our trips to Mull occasionally. Apparently they’d only been seen at night on the infra-red cameras, but were around somewhere, just like on the Kennet and Avon near Newbury.
Passing through the rather chaotic Woodford Mill Lock area and the Willy Watt Marina pausing only to buy a guide to the Middle Levels in case we went to Ely, we aimed for the Friends of The River Nene mooring at Woodford: it turned out to be accessible and amenable and empty. Arriving later than we liked, a quick wander into the pleasant village of Woodford itself, and the Dukes Arms was doing a decent carvery for £6.00 a head. A no brainer, really. There was also a hairdresser in town, so it looked like we might be spending a second night…
Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear, but being in no great hurry to move, it wasn’t overly early before herself raised the bedroom blind and squawked “There’s an otter over there!” Our chief otter spotter had struck again… or had she? By the time the Captain and I had sorted ourselves out it had disappeared, and never reappeared.
We had, however, picked up a temporary passenger who stayed for the day.
A gentle morning’s ramble along the Nene Way over the hill to revisit Woodford Mill chandlery, and it turned out that the café cum restaurant’s good reputation was well founded. With second breakfast/elevenses/first lunch suitably accomplished with cream tea and cakes we headed back to the boat for second lunch, pausing only to savour the newly fledged swallow chicks whizzing around low level and parting one’s hair. Only to find our nice peaceful mooring spot had filled up with boats, dogs and children. Ah well, some you win!
Mind you, still mindful of the otter sighting and the rumoured presence of plenty of mink (which are often mistaken for otters), a conversation with someone local established that there were plenty of water voles around. Which meant that they weren’t being preyed upon by mink. Think we’ll definitely count that as one otter spotted.