In our ceaseless quest to bring you ever-less exciting waterways, may I present... the Denver Relief Channel. This runs parallel to the tidal Ouse and although primarily for flood control, is navigable for much of its length. We wouldn't have considered it (the navigation opened too recently to be on our map) only e got talking to someone while on the pumpout at Ely, like you do, and they said they'd been up there to Downham Market, and I thought, what a pity we didn't know that before, we could have left earlier and taken a detour.
But as it turned out, we reached Denver with nearly two hours to spare, so it was the decision of a moment to veer off to the right and through the Relief Channel Lock, which brought us out onto... yet another stretch of wide, windy featureless waterway. We didn't have time to go far, but got to Downham Market, tied up, I ran briefly into town for future reference (apparently there is a good pub at the railway station, which is certainly handy for the mooring). In the meantime another boat had come down behind us, so we had to turn the (incredibly slow; they all are) lock before coming back round to Denver in time for the four o'clock tide.
The lockkeeper warned us that there wasn't much water, and also, it being early in the season, they weren't quite sure where the mud was, so we would be guinea pigs for him, but if we got stuck it was OK, as the tide was rising and the water would soon lift us off. I'm not quite sure why he sent us out so soon, as we did get stuck, which wasn't so much of a problem at the Denver end - we were indeed soon off - but it was a bugger to get into Salters Lode, taking three attempts and probably only then working because the water had come up - and then the people behind us got stuck too.
Never mind, we were eventually back on the Middle Level, slow and shallow after yesterday's excitements, and tied up at our favourite handy spot at Well Creek. This mooring, provided by the Well Creek Trust, doesn't seem to have been maintained at all since it was built, which is a great shame as it is now in a very poor state and looks not long for this world. We tied up well back to leave room for our newly acquired friends on Sniffing General, and enjoyed reciprocal boat tours and later joined them to make a few dents on Warrior's so far untouched beer cupboard. Today, up early for the Long March back to Ramsey.