The Old Bedford River from the Great Ouse to Welches Dam is a statutory navigation but its entrance through the tidal doors at Salters Lode suffers badly from siltation and lack of dredging.
Never the less, John Revell of Peterborough IWA and his narrowboat 'Olive Emily' have succeeded once more in navigating all the way to Welches Dam where further progress is currently barred by an Environment Agency cofferdam.
One Monday 13th November, three boats, 'Olive Emily', 'Lily May' and 'Ever After' gathered on the tidal Great Ouse at Salters Lode to await the tide making a level at the Old Bedford Sluice. John, on 'Olive Emily' spent over an hour backing his way inch-by- inch through accumulated silt to access the tidal doors.
Finally just before 3.0 p.m. and later than predicted, the tide began to rise and with the help of temporary lowering of the huge guillotine gate to hold some water, 'Olive Emily' was able to pass the tidal doors and then slip under the guillotine as it was raised.
A cheer went up from the onlookers - John had done it again!
'Lily May' quickly followed but by this time the tide was flowing very fast causing the tidal doors to close and prevent access.
The crews of 'Lily May' and 'Ever After' returned to the Middle Level through Salters Lode Lock, disappointed this time but determined to try again another day.
The crews later met up at the Lamb and Flag beside the waterway at Welney for well-deserved refreshment. The next morning John and 'Olive Emily' navigated a further 6-miles to Welches Dam before returning safely through the tidal doors at Salters Lode.
For Project Hereward's ultimate success, it is vital that the 12-mile stretch of the Old Bedford River between Salters Lode and Welches Dam (a statutory navigation under the Anglian Water Authority Act 1977) is kept open and accessible.
John Revell and his associates from Peterborough IWA are making certain it is.