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  • Alick Burt

A fabulous day on the Nene and my closest ever encounter with a Swan

It has been a while since I have been paddling for a whole day and with resin setting on two canoes in the workshop I decided I was due a days paddling.

I decided to head against the wind downriver as it was stronger than the flow which means if I am lucky it will make life easier on my return journey. Of course ,there is always a chance it will change during the day but it still pays to be cautious and check your time as you paddle so you can estimate your time getting back.

as I set off in my 14ft Dabchick there was a light breeze and a sparkle of sun on the water.

sunlight on the water ahead of the dabchick 14 ft canoe.
Water sparkles in the sun around the Dabchick's bow.

I didn't take the backwater but instead opted to portage Water Newton Lock as there was some wattle building going on by the weir.

As I rounded the bend into Water Newton the wind dropped completely due to the wind break provided by the trees so the approach to the lock was calm.

Bow of Dabchick 14 foot canoe on the water.
Calmer water around the bend.

At the lock the wind was back.

Water Newton lock from on board a wooden Canoe.
Approaching Water Newton Lock in Dabchick Canoe

At Alwalton I portaged around the lock via the back water which I often use as my coffee stop and today was no exception although this time I stopped for lunch as I had only set off at about 10.30

14ft Cedar Canoe with outer stem detail at bow.
Bow of cedar strip Dabchick 14 foot Canoe

As I ate my lunch I watched a swan patrolling the back water and made a short video.

The beach here makes a nice photo shoot location so I took a few more pictures of the Dabchick. I have made four of these now and this one has a red cedar planked hull and I have also made them with a mix of pine and cedar stripes giving a "humbug" look

They are 14ft long and weigh around 20kg.

14ft solo or tandem canoe showing scuppered gunwales.
4 foot Dabchick Canoe in Cedar with Sycamore gunwales

The kneeling thwart shown here is adjusrable and moveable without large tools.
Yoke adjustable kneeling thwart and fixed seat in Dabchick Canoe.

One of my favourite features is my moveable adjustable kneeling thwart. I like it so much have registered the design of the bracket. Although this type fits wooden canoes I am happy to make you some for other types of canoe should you wish and I have done this for boats with aluminium gunwales.

Kneeling thwart adjustable bracket.
my specially designed bracket for the kneeling thwart.

As it was hot I took off my hoody and relaxed a while. You can see a humbug pattern dabchick on the front of it!

Lunch stop in Dabchick Solo Canoe
The Dabchick is also available in Hum,bug pattern as you can see on my sweatshirt!

On the back water the view is good.

14ft Canoe on the backwater of the Nene at Alwalton
Canoeing the backwater.

Where the backwater meets the lock I noticed what looks like some new engineering. I don't think these bits stuck out like this the last time I was here and I hope something is done to help prevent them causing an accident!

dangerous structures sticking out of the side of the platform.
Metal platforms sticking out of the side of the pontoon.

I paddled on making rapid progress despite the wind which was still against me most of the way and probably stronger than the 6mph forecast. I approached the bridge at Ferry Meadows.

Approaching the three arched bridge on the Nene Near Ferry Meadows
The bridge at Ferry Meadows.

I decided to make my way to the lake further down river on the basis that I probably had enough time to do a circuit and start my return. On the section of water that goes from the river to the lake I was approached by the most inquisitive swan I have ever encountered.

It was a very easy matter to get a number of good close up pictures. I am guessing it is used to being fed by passers by in the area both on land and water. Its amazing how close you can get to nature when in a canoe.

Male mute swan up close.
Swan came so close I was able to get a really good close up.

Once on the lake I decided to do a clockwise circuit for a change as this looked easier in the wind. The sky made for a bit of extra interest on this picture.

at the inlet to the lake at ferry meadows near Peterborough
At the entrance to the lake at Ferry Meadows

I paddled around the lake and then made my way back stopping off for a tea break on route.

Stopping for a drink at the waters edge.
Time for a tea break.

As I approached the mill at Water Newton I noticed some of it appears to have a new roof. The section on the right used to be the same darker colour as the rest.

scuppers on the gunwales look good, lighten the canoe, and make emptying water easier.
New roof on the mill at Water Newton

The sun was beginning to fade as it was round 6pm at this point and I finally got back to the workshop around 7pm. At least its light at this time of year even if the temperature had dropped!

Sun going down at the end of my canoe trip.
Not quite sunset and I'm nearly back at the workshop.

Happy Paddling



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