The next entry in my Dad;s dairy – which he and his friend Sammy kept as they cruised up the River Cam in 1937, at the age of eighteen.
This morning was the most doubtful morning for a swim but we stuck it out and felt very much aglow afterwards. The whole boat was cleared out n put shipshape and after saying goodbye to the landlord we left Crosswater Staunch at 11 a.m.
Our destination was Denver which proved a very pleasant and warm cruise with the sun full on our backs. The wind dropped and th sky was streaked with clouds and it was just the right weather for the trip.
We moored on the west bank at Denver at 1:20 and went to see Mr Beasly who told us that we should be able to go through between 5 o’clock and 5:30 p.m. to Overstaunch. We manged to get through the lock at Denver at 5:55p.m. on the first level of the tide. The Hundred Foot was very uninteresting and although we made good speed we had to moor the boat 1 1/2 miles away from Earith Suspension Bridge at 8:30p.m. We were rather anxious during the night in case the level should fall and we went out to look at 12 o’clock, 2: a.m. and 5:0 a.m Luckily everything was alright except the extremely cold night.
When we were at Denver we noticed that where the water from the Ouse met the Hundred Foot there seemed to be a big sand bank shelf across the river. After a conversation with the lock keeper, Mr Beasley, we were told that it was only the freshwater meeting the slat sea water. Mr Beasley also told us that the locks were a hundred years old.
* The Denver sluice is on the River Great Ouse near Downham Market, in Norfolk. The sluice controls the water level in this area of the fens and stops high tides from flooding the low-lying farmland.
* The Hundred Foot Drain is a man-made channel off the River Ouse between Earith and the Denver sluice. It is called the Hundred Foot because that was roughly the distance between the top of the embankment on either side. It is tidal, as Sammy and Snick knew.
How could Snick and Sammy have foreseen that exactly two years later, war would be declared against Germany on September 3rd 1939. Donald had already been called up in 1939 and he remained in the Army until he was demobbed in 1946. Perhaps he looked back on the holiday with Sammy as he sweated under the North African sun, or bivvied in tents near Monte Casino, or guard the morgue in Salonica