Wednesday, middle levels.
An early start this morning (08:00, early for us) because we had booked a time slot of 10:00 to enter the Middle Levels.
The Middle Levels connect the River Nene with the Great Ouse. Entering and leaving is complicated because the Environment Agency go to a lot of effort to maintain the water levels, to prevent flooding. The levels were built to drain the surrounding land, to convert it from a malaria ridden swamp to productive farmland.
One of the ways they control the levels is to try to maintain a one-in-one-out approach to boats entering and leaving, which is why we have to give 24 hours notice to the lock keepers at each end if we want to use the locks. Which is why we had a timeslot for entering, and which is why we had such an early start.
We made it. We arrived at the lock on time, and after giving the lock keeper coin and answering their riddle, we were given two quest items and allowed entry.1
About five hours cruising took us as far as March, about half way, where we had planned to spend the night. As it turned out the moorings were by a main road, next to a pub, and far too noisy. So, after a quick walk around town to stretch our legs, we carried on to Upwell which is much quieter.
Tomorrow should see us through the Denver Sluice and onto the Great Ouse.
1 The riddle was “what is the registration number of your boat”? The quest items were a key to use water points and other facilities, and a winch handle to use the locks