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The Cruise of the Dondevoy


This diary was written during an extended cruise on the canals in 1972, in an old rowing boat converted so I could live on it. The trip started in Cambridge, went down the River Great Ouse to where it becomes tidal, then across the Middle Level Navigable Drains to Peterborough and up the River Nene and onto the canal system. I spent about a month in Northampton, several weeks in Coventry, and a few days in Stratford-upon-Avon. The diary covers my cruises between those places.

I wrote in longhand, more or less every day, in a hard backed exercise book. In a few instances, I wrote several days at once, but mostly I was able to keep it up to date. In transcribing it to the computer, I have tried to keep as much as possible to the original text, only making corrections where the original was hard to understand, and putting right a few spelling errors. I have omitted a few paragraphs here and there, mostly flippant comments that added nothing to the story, or lengthy passages about non-canal stuff that I now consider boring. The omissions have been marked as such in pencil in the original longhand manuscript. Because it was intended to be primarily a canal diary, the text mostly covers only those times that I was actually moving from place to place; I stopped three times to get employment of various kinds, and although I have mentioned them in the text, I stopped writing the diary when I was doing nothing but working every day. I reasoned at the time that the interest of the story would be in the canal cruising rather than my mundane work life. The longest gap is one of nearly a month during my time in Coventry.

Illustrations are attributed where possible, and where permission to take copies has not yet been granted, are "hot links" direct to the original source. It is thus possible that such links do not work from time to time. Some photographs (of Blisworth Tunnel, for instance) that were taken at the time belong to me and no attribution is given. All illustrations may be seen in their original resolution by clicking on the picture, which will open the picture in a new tab or window.

Apart from illustrations belonging to and attributed to other people, the entire diary and related material is copyright ©1972 and later dates Ben Newsam. You are free to publish links to any part of the diary, but any other use of the written or picture material therein requires my prior permission.

Map Preface Introduction June 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 July 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 30 August 5 8 September 5 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26


Copyright ©1972 Ben Newsam. The author of this diary may be contacted at