Fenland Boaters’ Top Tips for Your Narrowboat Summer Holiday

Jan Pickles Narrowboat Peterborough Embankment

With kind permission: Jan Pickles

If you’re planning a narrowboat summer holiday on the East Anglian waterways it’s fun to do a bit of online research before you go. There are a few Facebook groups dedicated to our local waterways such as Friends of the River Nene, Fen Boaters and Middle Level Boaters.

So I asked the local boaters on Facebook if they had any tips and suggestions of favourite moorings and best places to visit on the Cam, Ouse, Nene and Middle Levels?

Fred Ray responded with a link to his beautiful photo blog. Fred explored the Fen waterways before Easter last year, with his family on board narrowboat Calamity Jayne. One of the highlights was a visit to Ely cathedral. Fred was impressed and overawed by the sheer scale and beauty of the building. The ‘Ship of the Fens’ dates from the 11th century. Fred’s blog displays examples of the intricate stonework, stained glass windows and painted vaulted ceilings. They visited the West Tower and climbed 288 steps to get some stunning shots of the flat fenlands all around, and looked down onto the top of the octagonal Lantern Tower. He even spied their boat from up there, moored down on the river! Their day out in Ely also offered shopping, playing in a country park and chip butties for lunch.

I also read on Facebook that the Five Miles in Upware, near Ely is has real ales, good food and plenty of moorings. On a Friday night they have a live band and during the summer live music in the garden. The Five Miles From Anywhere Inn is a modern, family-friendly pub-restaurant with a grassy riverside garden on the River Cam.

A visitor to our Facebook page recently suggested The Ship Inn at Brandon Creek. “They serve consistently great home cooked food and cater for celiacs and gluten diets really well. Best Treacle tart ever. Mooring over night when you go there too. There are also Environment Agency moorings alongside the pub: A truly pretty spot between two rivers – just like an island.”

Jan Moyes says, “We do have a house, but we don’t go there very often!” They spend most of their time on their boat, Pennymist. She says, “Cambridge is my favourite place and we have always been lucky in getting a mooring at Jesus Green lock, but there is not a lot of mooring. On the Nene, Midsummer Meadow is one lock and ten minutes cruise from Northampton and a much quieter mooring. Also The Kings Head at Wadenhoe is good. Most EA moorings on the great Ouse are good. I really like the Five Miles From Anywhere – and it’s a great place name! Upwell to Burwell is a nice little detour – lovely little village.”

‘H’ and Jan Pickles (and their three cats) have been exploring the Great Ouse and its tributaries on an old Seamaster river cruiser, and have collated their years of experience into a website that can be accessed on the move via mobile devices. UK River and Canal Info offers the kind of information that boaters only discover over years of exploring, so is a real help to holiday makers that are new to the area. They like to visit Wadenhoe, on the River Nene.

Jan says, “You can moor at the bottom of the pub gardens for free if you eat in The Kings Head. If you prefer not to eat, it’s a fee. There’s an E.A. water point there too, which is handy.

Further up the village you have the Old Barn Tea Rooms. They do a wicked cooked breakfast and lovely cakes, as well as gifts, plants and even free range eggs can be purchased there.

You can also moor a little further upstream against the SSSI (site of special scientific interest). It costs nothing to moor there and the pub and tea rooms are still within easy reach.”

Any one of these places is within easy reach of our hire boat base in March, and can be included in your holiday plans.

For more Fenland boaters recommendations and tips, plus our local boaty news and gorgeous narrowboating pictures make sure you’re following our Facebook page, and subscribe to our blog in the right sidebar – look for Follow Blog. (We don’t send spam or salesy type stuff – just interesting articles about boats and waterways!)

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