It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, after 70 years of dedicated service to the country. Our thoughts are with the Queen’s family at this time of sorrow and loss. The image is of the Queen opening a new IDB pumping station serving a neighbouring Board two years ago, showing her interest in the work of IDBs.

A second month with almost no rainfall is putting our system under extreme pressure. We keep levels up at this time of year, and in these conditions, by taking water from the River Nene. However, as flows in the Nene fall the Environment Agency also are forced to reduce what we are allowed to take as our share of the residual flow. So far this year we have been able to keep levels above the point where we would expect navigators to be experiencing significant issues, but it is a fine line and a few inches either way can make all the difference to this.

Over the next few years it is our intention to explore options for dredging the shallowest lengths of the old river courses as we have done so with much success in the Well Creek (for example we are currently looking at the whole of March and sections in Benwick). In the meantime please be aware that levels are at their annual lowest, adjust your speed accordingly and keep an eye out for submerged obstacles.

The Middle Level Commissioners are very pleased to be able to report that they have been working closely with Fenland District Council (FDC) to identify opportunities to maintain and enhance the navigation experience through March. As part of these ongoing discussions FDC have reaffirmed their commitment to maintain the pump out facilities in the centre of town. These are currently non-operational but this week confirmation has been received that a replacement pump has been ordered, allowing for planned installation and commissioning late summer or early autumn this year.

The MLC will be carrying out extensive refurbishment of the downstream lock entrance moorings.

Work will commence on 23rd May 2022 and is likely to take around a week to complete. As there will be no place to moor up a boat at this end of the lock during this time a temporary lock keeper will be on hand each day to assist from 8am to 5pm, until the moorings are reopened.

The Middle level Commissioners, as part of their plans to improve navigation facilities within the Middle Level system, have been informally collecting views of navigators on what they would most like to see us deliver in the next few years. This has been achieved by gathering information from many conversations the Navigation Officer has had with vessel owners. One request that has come through strongly is the provision of simple rural mooring sites where boaters can stop for a while during the day or overnight.

There are currently eight Designated Rural Moorings within the Middle Level System. These are 24 hour stay moorings where mooring is allowed without seeking prior permission. They each consist of 5 mooring posts approximately 32m in length located at the toe of watercourse. These moorings have signs adjacent to them, and consist of driven timber posts and mown bankside vegetation. They are designed to be simple and no other provision or facilities provided. You may choose to stay overnight or simply stop here for a short break before carrying on.

The new Ramsey moorings received an enthusiastic thumbs up from the crews of eight Middle Level Watermens Club narrowboats who moored there overnight during their 2022 Easter weekend cruise.

 

One encouraging fact emerged in that it was just about possible to swing a sixty foot boat in the winding hole! However this required some effort, removing and or lifting fenders and some volunteers on ropes who were able to pull the boat around. The feedback given was that with some vegetation removal and dredging around the edge of the winding hole, to remove silt and rubble that has fallen from the walls, a sixty foot boat would be able to tuck into the corners and make a successful swing. We will see what can be done.

Thanks are given to the MLWC for supplying the feedback and photographs.