We found the same transformation with the River Cam as we had seen on the Ouse. From Ely and up past Pope's Corner it was still the same fenland riverscape - high flood banks, sometimes not very interesting. From Bottisham Lock, once again the river changed:- the flood banks soon disappeared and we could see the surrounding countryside for some distance. Then we started coming into the outskirts of Cambridge, and moored up at Waterbeach, where Stuart and Charlotte joined us and stayed overnight, ready for the next day afloat.
We headed for Upware, where the lock gives access to three 'Lodes', leading to Reach, Burwell and Wicken. (A lode is apparently a medieval word for a waterway which has been retained in this part of the world). Reach was the one we aimed for first. Although the water level was perhaps a little higher than the Cam, so we could see a bit more of the miles of fields around us, the lode itself was very straight and increasingly shallow. Progress was slow, and the end of the lode was a disappointment. The map showed mooring there, with some access to the village, but when we arrived we found that the mooring was almost non-existent and another boat completely occupied it! There was no-one on board, so we didn't feel free to tie up next to it and so turned around and headed back to the moorings near the junction of Wicken Lode. The next morning, we decided to chug up the short and very narrow Wicken Lode, and enjoyed the mooring there and lunch in the café at Wicken Fen Nature Reserve.
Then back to Waterbeach on Sunday night, ready for a quick dash down to Devon! At very short notice, we had heard a couple of days earlier that Val had a 'pre-op' appointment at Barnstaple on the Tuesday. At first we thought it would be impossible, but thanks to coach bookings on the internet and kind permission from the Cam Conservators to stay a bit longer on the moorings, it was suddenly 'do-able'. Stuart and Charlotte made it really easy for us by giving us lifts to and from Cambridge, where we caught the National Express bus to Northampton. A local bus took us to Blisworth, where we collected our car from its temporary home in Jim & Beryl's forecourt and drove down to stay with Joe and Wendy for a couple of nights.
Then the whole trip in the opposite direction and we were ready to resume our travels on the Thursday morning! A brief trip up to Cambridge to fill up with water, then back out to the Lodes again. This time we went to Burwell, where it was possible to moor, and then we headed back to Wicken and enjoyed a couple more nights there.
We needed to start heading back down to the Great Ouse, but we had left ourselves a few little excursions on the way . . .