Seven Surprising Differences We Discovered Cruising the Middle Levels

I used to run a traditional pair of hotel narrowboats, Snipe and Taurus with my husband. We had a lot of routes that were standard fare – we did them regularly, and knew them really well, but every summer we would plan to go on at least one adventure to explore a new waterway.

One summer we decided it was time to venture onto the waterways between Northampton, Ely and Cambridge. As this area of the country was new to us, we asked the Hotelboat Mafia who to talk to. Everybody recommended Fox Narrowboats as being the experts in and on these waterways. They were wonderful, and gave us lots of great tips about which local towns and villages we should visit, and which of the little rivers were worth investigating.

We loved our six weeks cruising this area – the waterways are so different to any others we’d travelled.

These were the things we and our guests loved most about cruising from March to Ely:

  1. Super-friendly lock-keepers, who came out to help us work through the locks, sometimes with their whole family!
  1. Surprise seal sightings on the tidal stretch between Denver Sluice and Salters Lode.
  1. Big skies – Canals and rivers tend to follow the contours of the land, meaning lots of lovely rolling hills, but no stunning horizons, not here though!
  1. Upwell and Outwell – the two villages that run either side of the Well Stream, it’s like cruising down the middle of the road, and the names raised a smile too.
  1. Wind farms – there is something very surreal about boating through fields of huge wind turbines.
  1. Kingfishers, kingfishers, c! We recorded over 30 sightings in one day – no photos though, you’ve got to be quick to get a picture of a kingfisher.
  1. The River Nene… pronounced Neen at one end and Nen at the other, obviously.

Without the help of Paula and the team at Fox Narrowboats, we wouldn’t have had nearly such a good time; they helped with the planning, gave us a great mooring and full service for our guest changeovers – they even took in our huge Tesco shop for us, when we were a little bit late arriving – it completely filled their living room!

If you’ve never been, then you should call and book your trip today, I wonder how many kingfishers you’ll see?

This is a guest post by Corinne Thomsett



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