Monday 21 June 2010

Leicester Ring - Post No 3

Friday 21st May 2010 - Market Harbrough to the Welford Arm

Today was so warm at 7.00am that even Elaine opted for the 'factor 50' (on her nose & ears at least). Set away back down the Arm towards Foxton Locks to be greeted at the bottom of the locks with more of a 'log-jam' of boats than a organised queue.
We had a long wait at the bottom in baking sun before beginning the climb as we had timed our arrival with all the "canaltime" boats that had left the basin the day before.
We were soon up through the locks and on our way through Husband's Bosworth Tunnel (1100 yards). The cool air in the tunnel was very refreshing, although for Elaine maybe too refreshing as she did suffer an ice-cold dribble of running water down her neck despite it being a largely dry trip. In the centre of the tunnel we did encounter thick fog despite it being a very hot clear sunny day outside.
We reached and turned down the Welford arm by mid afternoon and after first winding at the last winding point marked in the Nicholson Guide and exploring on foot the last mile we discovered there was winding space at the end of the Arm so winded again to navigate the extent of the Arm by boat. Only then would we feel we could mount our Welford Arm bridge plate! Moored on the Arm overnight.

Foxton Locks (viewed from above the bottom lock)

Foxton Locks (viewed from the top lock).

Saturday 22nd May 2010 - Welford Arm to Braunston

Set away early on another day with 'factor 50' at 8.00am!
Shortly after bacon sandwiches en route we encountered a calf in the canal just before Yelvertoft! I left Elaine holding the boat while I went in search of the farmer; as the calf was clearly unable to rescue itself. It turned out the farmer was in fact one of the owners of the new Yelvertoft Marina. After the calf was recovered we cruised around the corner where GJP were making a great job of the finishing touches to the landscaping around the marina. The marina, now with several berths already filled looks like a quality setup!

Travelled down Watford Locks and passing Watford Gap motorway services proved to remind us of the speed of alternative transport.

Top Lock in the Watford flight

The sun was still burning up the grass as we turned at Norton Junction onto the Grand Union and headed for the cool of Braunston Tunnel. We passing another boat in the middle of the tunnel without suffering any damage despite the tight squeeze before emerging into bright sunshine again and mooring for the evening above the top lock.

Sunday 23rd may 2010 - Braunston to Long Itchington

Another very very hot day as we travelled down the locks with Narrowboat 'Mrs Mickfee' (from Milton Keynes). A boat that was famous, and much photographed, for taking the waterways minister for a cruise up the canal earlier in the year. Sun still high in the sky as we continued down through Stockton Locks before finally mooring at Long Itchington.
After a quick call home; we realised, yet again, that you can't leave kids home alone! Even if they are 22 years old. Danielle, after only 24hours in the house, had managed to burn out the pond pumps by turning them on despite the motors being choked with weeds!. I guess that this is a cheap repair compared to other damage that could have been caused during her end of year house party!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Leicester Ring - Post No 2

Tuesday 18th May 2010 - Zouch to Blue Bank Lock.
Woke up to fantastic weather.

Our mooring at Zouch

After an early breakfast we pushed on up the Soar passing Normanton-on-Soar where we were able to admire the amazing houses with gardens that slopped down to the river. The houses were substituted with elaborate timber chalets as we ran out of the village centre; each chalet built on stilts to save it from flooding!
At Loughbrough, contrary to reports we had read, we were quite surprised by the pleasant 'canal scene' and I was even very tempted to make the short journey in reverse down the arm. Although now regretting not completing this part of the navigation, I guess I have probably avoided a trip down the weed-hatch as well!
Passing Leicester City Football Club

Continued up through Leicester and as the Castle Moorings were full (the only safe refuge in the city); and by choosing to avoid the local Leicester 'chavs'; we travelled further than we had initially intended. However as the weather was great it was a very enjoyable cruise.
We finally moored beyond the city limits with another narrowboat 'Theseus' below Blue Bank Lock.
The only downer on the day was finally standing in what a local dog owner had allowed his dog to leave by the canal and then walking it all over the rear deck and gunwales.

Wednesday 19th May 2010 - Blue Bank Lock to Wistow

A lazy start working up through the locks alone to moor for lunch opposite the British Waterways maintenance yard at Kilby Bridge. We couldn't help noticing that the BW workboat "Little John" was displaying an out of date license. (Expiring 19 days earlier!) Was very tempted to make a 'patrol notice' and stick it on the rear hatch!
Pushed on after lunch through many more locks; all with gates that refused to close when you wanted them to close. Stopping at 6.00pm for the evening near the medieval village of Wistow.

Thursday 20th May 2010 - Wistow to Market Harbrough

After breakfast we walked across the canal and visited Wistow Garden Centre and Model Village. A visit well worth the walk. (Yes - even I can walk that far!). Setting away about 10.30am we soon paired up with narrowboat 'Theseus' to travel up the next few locks (they must have passed the boat while we were visiting Wistow).
Next; Saddington Tunnel (880 yards long) proved to be an experience; although the tunnel had the usual number of dribbles of water to keep you on your toes in the dark; it was the bats that provided the bulk of the entertainment. They could be clearly seen as they flew around in the beam of the tunnel lamp at the front of the boat and it was quite unnerving to think they were also flying around our heads at the back of the boat; thankfully undetectable in the darkness at this end of the operation!
The canal today was again very quiet passing only one boat all day. It makes you feel your waterways license is quite cheap when you don't seem to be sharing the system with anyone!
Travelled past the bottom of Foxton Locks. Though there were no boats waiting to climb the flight, we opted to travel down the Market Harbrough Arm for the evening as planned.
The basin at the end of the Arm is pretty much like the town; very quaint and classy with evidence of affluence all around.
Bought a pair of go-cart tyres (fenders) from the crew of narrowboat 'Tranquility' who were moored behind us on the Arm.