Sunday, 28 July 2013

Travelling up the Stort

We've had a lovely weekend with our friends William and Daphne as guests on Leo and we're now moored at Sawbridgeworth heading towards Bishops Stortford at the upper limit of the navigable River Stort.

On Wednesday we were still travelling up the River Lee and spent a morning looking round Waltham Abbey.

This is the rear view of the Abbey which used to be three times as long as the present remains which form the parish church of Waltham Abbey.  You can see either side of the rose window where the rest of the building was attached until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

Here are the Norman arches in the Abbey.  You can also see the splendidly painted ceiling of which I've shown a detail below.

There is a 'lion' theme to this posting which is only reasonable since our boat is called 'Leo'.  The ceiling in the Abbey shows symbols for the months of the year and here is Leo.

On Wednesday evening we moored near Cheshunt and went for a walk around one of the many lakes in this part of the Lea Valley.

This area is great for waterfowl with lakes like this left from gravel extraction with islands to give the wildlife some protection from humans.  Otters have been introduced here but we've yet to see one.

We found this Buddlea bush and tried to photograph some Peacock butterflies on it.  This was my best attempt.

Once we got to the junction between the Rivers Lee and Stort we followed the Lee up to Hertford passing through Ware.

There were some fine looking modern buildings along the River at Ware.  These look reminiscent of old commercial buildings but in fact they are modern and built as houses or flats.

This is the font in Ware church and, amazingly, dates back to 1380.  The craftsmanship was excellent.

Along the waterfront at Ware are a number of 18th century gazebos or summerhouses at the bottom of gardens.  Here are a couple including a superb weather horse on one.

And here I am trying to get a picture of the reflections in the water while we had lunch on board on Friday.

Above Ware lock there were some peaceful water meadows where we spotted this young Great Crested Grebe:
Young Great Crested Grebe
On Friday afternoon we managed to negotiate Hertford Lock despite a party of young lads using it as a swimming pool and met William and Daphne for a cruise to the very end of the Lee Navigation:

This is Folly Bridge and boats of our size must turn just beyond this bridge.

These buildings mark the point where we needed to turn the boat.  Smaller boats can go a little further but pretty soon there is a weir that prevents further progress up river.

This is the weir at Hertford with a small marina opposite.  The flow over the weir was pretty low but it must be difficult to navigate this spot when the river is running high.

On Friday afternoon we walked round Hertford and here are some of the sights:

I told you that lions were the theme and here is Helen sitting on one.  This was just outside the Hertford Castle Gatehouse.

And here is the central part of the Gatehouse which dates from the 15th century.

I liked this advert for the Green Dragon Hotel especially "Accommodation for Motorists and Cyclists, Good Stabling and Motor Pit"

On Saturday we set off back down the River Lee to its confluence with the Stort and then up the River Stort.  The Stort is so very different from the Lee.  Whereas the Lee is wide and fairly straight the Stort is very narrow and windy.  It is also much more rural and a positive delight to cruise, though the lock gates are just as heavy and difficult as on the Lee.  The Stort locks are only 13 foot wide so you cannot share them with another narrow boat.

 This is Stanstead Lock on the Lee which has a swing bridge across the middle of the lock.  Coming up in the lock you have to remember to swing the bridge back before filling the lock, if not disaster awaits.  Here, going down river, William (out of sight) is swinging the bridge back into position once Leo has dropped sufficiently low to clear it.

The Stort is narrow but you can pass two wide beam boats if you are careful!
 It was quite hot on Saturday afternoon so what better way to cool off than to have a swim in a lake?  You can just see some heads out in the water.  All was well until the Parks Police turned up.  Apparently it is against the byelaws to swim in the lakes in the Lea Valley.  They were quite pleasant about it and at least we had a good swim before they arrived.

And here are William, Daphne and Helen enjoying a meal on Leo on Saturday evening when we moored in the rain near Roydon.  Look at the artistically arranged cheese board.  The cherries on the corners we picked at Hertford by the visitor moorings.

Today we've carried on up the Stort to Sawbridgeworth where we said our goodbyes to our visitors.  Thanks for coming.

This is Ian ducking as we go under Roydon Railway bridge.  It was low but not as low as we had feared and Leo passed under easily.

Above Roydon is this flooded meadow popular with the geese.

This is Parndon Mill by the lock.  Lots of locks have a mill close by.

I liked these three stone balls by one of the locks.  The left one has fish carved on it, the middle one has rope and the right hand one has chain links carved on it.

Tomorrow we plan to carry on to the end of the Stort Navigation at Bishops Stortford and to enjoy an evening meal with our daughter Lucy who lives in Cambridge so is quite nearby.  Then we'll set off back down the Rivers Stort and Lee back to London.

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