Sunday, 19 February 2017

First Boating of the Year

My first bit of boating for 2017 was on the River Great Ouse. Perhaps not an "inland waterway" at this point as the river at King's Lynn is tidal, but then so is much of the River Trent and that usually counts as inland.

There has been a ferry across the River Great Ouse at King's Lynn since 1285, so what better way to re-commence my journey Around the Edge of England for 2017.  There is a direct bus, Stagecoach's 555, from King's Lynn to Spalding, bypassing the ferry, but  I was pleased to discover that a handful of journeys on the service to  Spalding divert via West Lynn village and, better still, stop near the ferry terminal. Even better, one of them ran at exactly the right time for me to start the day's travels on the ferry.

The approach to the ferry via Ferry Lane

The ferry terminal is accessed via "Ferry Lane" a narrow passageway leading off the Tuesday Market Place. It is probably this convenient access to the town centre combined with the circuitous journey by road (despite a new bridge) that has ensured the ferry's survival.

King's Lynn landing stage

It's a short crossing. Google Maps gives it as 650m but when the tide is low, as it was today, it can be quite a bit less, although the fare stays the same at a very reasonable £1.10.

The King's Lynn landing stage is every bit as perilous as it looks in this image, especially at low tide.

The ferry on its way over from West Lynn

And don't expect much in the way of luxury.  I crossed in a open boat (some have a flimsy top cover) sat on a hard wooden bench.  The vessel was powered by two outboard motors - a powerful one with a large propeller to cope with the tide and the flow in the Ouse and a smaller one for manoeuvring in the shallows at either bank, with the helmsman stopping and starting each in turn - meaning that for a few moments on each crossing the boat is at the mercy of the current!

West Lynn

There are rather more commodious waiting factilities on the West Lynn side, where the ferries are based, although even here egress from the boats at low tide involves jumping off over the bow on to this rather fearsome set of unguarded steps!

I don't how much canal boating I'll manage this year (I've alfready had to turn down one offer) but it was a good start!


Naughty-Cal said...

We really like Kings Lynn. Now that they have put in the visitor moorings outside the warehouse it is a really handy bank holiday weekend stop over for us. Makes a nice trip from Lincoln to Kings Lynn and back.

Jim said...

Yes, I liked it too and was happy to spend some time there. But I struggled to find a decent pub!

Naughty-Cal said...

You are not alone.

We have tried most of them now and none are the type we would settle in for a long drinking session in.