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  • Alick Burt

River Nene - Key Theatre to Ashline Lock

Information seems a bit thin on what this stretch of the Nene is called and ashline lock doesn't feature on paddle points or my EA map of the river though the watercourse is shown and it is noted as being under the control of the middle Level commissioners. I had paddled to stanground lock on one of my earlier trips arriving at about 5pm and saw some kayakers putting in and going down river on the far side which alerted me to the possibility and also I had acquired an OS map (explorer 227) which has some more detail on it.I decided to start in Peterborough as I knew there was a public car park with easy access near the Key Theatre. I had used it before on a Sunday when it was free but unfortunately it cost £6 for the day on Saturday. I paid up although I am sure there are probably other places that would be free.

I unloaded and got my boat into the water at this ever so tricky put in! I think the bollard is just big enough for my boat!

As I set off it was clear this was going to be a journey with many Swans.

At the next junction I took the river to the right. Under the bridge towards Stanground. I paddled past the boatyard with its crane and the Woolpack pub. I soon reached Stanground lock where the river splits again and again my plan was to take the right fork.

The lock here is covered in signs saying passage through has to be booked 24hrs in advance. I started to unload and saw a barge approaching. Having lifted out my boat I chatted to the barge owner and gathered he was going through. I took my stuff over to the other side where there are more signs and a small low fence and gate with a padlock on it (low enough that I could easily step over it but it was unlocked so I proceeded downwards) and decided to have a brew on the well manicured grass.

Not too sure what the gravel is for except to scratch canoe bottoms!

As I sat having coffee a couple came out of the lock keepers house and operated the lock for the barge. I had carried everything through easily with paddles and other stuff strapped to my trolley as usual.

I finished my drink and went on my way. I was now in new territory for me and the river stretched ahead.

With the wind behind me and easy conditions I found the paddling easy. Although the weather became cloudy It didn't rain.

..and I passed more swans

Houses appeared on my right.

A little further on I reached Ashline lock. I didn't want to paddle much further as I had planned to meet with some WHCA paddlers on Sunday so I relaxed and had lunch.

After lunch I returned the way I had come.

There were a few passing barges and one was busy trying to untangle weeds on one of the bends but no sign of any cruisers.

I reached Stanground lock at about 4pm perfect for tea. As I sat drinking it the lady came out of the lockkeepers house and shouted over to me that she was about to lock the gate so I should go through if I was going to go through.I grabbed my stuff which now included an extra football and the rugby ball I retrieved earlier and went through and then sat and thought about it.Who exactly was the locked gate supposed to stop.Anyone who was intent on doing anything malicious would just step over it! I carried on and stopped off at the Woolpack pub for a swifty.

As I neared journeys end I could see the Swans were staying where the food is..

..and soon I was back at the put in.

As I packed up I met a chap who admired my boat and said he and his friends were into Viking re-enactments. I suggested I could make them a woodstrip longship.

All in all a great day on a new bit of the Nene (for me).

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