We had made a late start and arrived at Wansford Lock in need of some lunch. The trouble with Kayaks is that when you are strapped in with a spray deck, accessing essentials like food, drink and yes, my trusty camera is all a bit difficult and best left for a time when we are out of the boats anyway.
Upstream from Wansford Lock
I had been making wild and unsubstantiated promises of a picnic Nirvana at Wansford to Jeff for the last mile or so, so imaging my surprise when lo and behold there set up and ready was a picnic table - right beside the lock. The only thing missing was a pub, but entering one complete with buoyancy aid and spray deck might have raised a few eye brows.
Calder and Hebble'esque paddle gear - handspike not included
Wansford Lock was full, and replete with brand new gates - the top ones even opened - a feature we made use on on our way back. It was restored in 2009 /10 but cant be used because of the still to be altered Wansford Bridge just downstream.
We set about our lunch with a passion of hungry men, passing the time of day with various people who wandered by. It seems that they dont see a lot of canoes or kayaks on these waters. An observation reinforced by the absence of clearly defined landing points. Speaking of which, the one downstream of the lock is a complete nightmare. Not only is the old quayside high, the water level has been lowered by a couple of feet which made for a perilous 4ft step down into the kayaks. Not bad for a canoe but a real challenge for an overweight 50 year old with one eye on his camera!
Wansford Lock bottom gates
Jeff was first down and confirmed that he could clamber out again on the return, so I eased myself into the small cockpit and away we went, past a converted mill and down a stream full of pike, big ones little Jack ones - loads of them in all shapes and sizes.