On the move to Northampton

After days of no rain and falling river levels, it rained over the weekend and the news from the Environment Agency was better. We decided that Thursday (Oct 20th) was a good day to get on the move again. The levels in the White Mills Marina were slightly up on the levels we found a few days ago and we had heard that a fully laden fuel boat had come downstream. The weather was dry, although there were showers around, and there was an autumnal feel to the day.

As we left White Mills we found another boat was going upstream - a 70ft Gardner-engined boat called Kala. Together we worked the locks up to Northampton. It all went well and we had no problems with water levels up to the Washlands. At Weston Favell lock we met an Environment Agency launch going downstream - in the launch was our contact who I had been talking to over the last few days. He reassured us that today was a good day to be on the move

On the river near Cogenhoe

He was right, there was plenty of water in the shallower parts of the Northampton Washlands but when we reached the canalised section between Rush Mills and Abington Lock it was very shallow with levels down over a foot. A boat coming the over direction warned us about rocks just below the surface.

Northampton Washlands

We got to Northampton just before 3:00. Arriving at Northampton Town Lock we found it much changed from our recent journey going downstream. Contractors have been working for sometime on the new Waterside Campus of the University of Northampton. Whilst we were "away" they had installed the steel work of a new pedestrian bridge across the River Nene. It curves its way across several arms of the river from Beckets Park. My photo from the lock doesn't do the bridge justice but it might be one of the earliest since we were told it was only installed on Wednesday. What you can see is part of the steel box-section that will support the deck.

New bridge at Beckets Park (Northampton Town Lock)

Because we arrived at a reasonable hour at Northampton Marina we took a stroll into town and visited Northampton Museum which features the shoe trade. It's a fascinating museum with some amazing shoes on show. A notable exhibit is the recently donated pair of size 21 Nike trainers found in a petrol station and unclaimed. They are enormous - can't be many with shoes that size!

There were also the Addidas spikes worn by Chris Chataway when he combined with Roger Bannister and Chris Brasher to run the first under four-minute mile.

Chataway's Addidas spikes