Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Heading for Leicester

We are now moored four miles and five locks from the centre of Leicester so we are making progress up the country at our usual sedate pace.  On Monday morning we came to the top of the Foxton Locks.  This consists of two staircases each of five locks dropping the canal about 75 feet down the hill.  Beside the locks lie the remains of an inclined plane which for eleven years from 1900 allowed two narrowboats to slide in a bath down rails from top to bottom balanced by another bath of boats coming up.  The plane also gave access to 14 foot wide boats, though the narrow locks at Watford still meant that barges could not go through to London.

Here is the view down the Foxton Locks from the top of the flight.  The building part way down is now a museum but was once the engine house to drive the inclined plane.

Right down the bottom of the flight you can just make out the pub, the Foxton Locks Inn.

And here is the remains of the inclined plane which slopes down the hill to the boat basin you can see at the bottom.

At the bottom of the locks an arm of the canal goes off right for 5½ miles to Market Harborough. At the end, after many twists and turns, the canal opens out into a delightful basin now surrounded by modern flats, but once a hive of industrial activity.

Here is the basin and the building on the left is now the Waterfront Inn which of course, it being lunchtime, we had to visit.  Good food and pleasant surroundings.

After lunch we walked into the town of Market Harborough which is a very pleasant market town with all the usual facilities and some interesting old buildings.  Sadly the old Grammar School which is on stilts and the 'signature' building of MH was under wraps being restored.

We came back down the Arm in the afternoon and moored close to Foxton.  On Tuesday we returned to the junction and set off on new waters (to us anyway) by turning right towards Leicester.  Soon the canal passes through Saddington Tunnel, the last of three along this canal, but only half a mile long.

You can see the other end of the tunnel clearly in this photo.  Unlike Crick, this one was nearly dry with just the occasional drip.

On Tuesday afternoon we started going down locks towards the valleys around Leicester and moored early on in brilliant summer sunshine near Newton Harcourt.

Here you can see Ian bringing Leo into Pywell's Lock.

After mooring we went for a walk across fields to Wistow Church.  Looking back we could see Leo waiting for us patiently at the top of the field.

The garden centre at Wistow has a model village.  Though it has seen better days, we still enjoyed its depiction of railway and canal.  Returning past a delicatessen the proprietor was just packing up for the day and was offering free bread to passers by.  So we've been enjoying very nice but a little chewy bread for a couple of days.

Opposite our mooring was a field of sheep and of course their lambs.

And later on the moon rose lighting up the bridge behind us.

Today we've done 14 locks as we've continued down through pleasant countryside to the outskirts of Leicester.

For the first 7 locks we shared with a hire boat.  Fortunately they were well practised hirers and we were pleased to work with them particularly as they had six on board, so plenty of crew to work the locks and set the locks ahead.  We flew down these seven locks.

 We stopped for tea this afternoon with Tim and Dianne who we met on their boat 'Kingfisher' last year.  They have a house with mooring for Kingfisher - seen here with Leo moored alongside.  It was lovely to see them again and we may meet again later this year when they will also be off on their travels.

Very soon we will be back on a river navigation on the River Soar which leads down to the River Trent.  By our mooring this evening is a gate and behind this you can see a small river.  This is our first sight of the River Soar which we shall be travelling along tomorrow as we go into Leicester.

Tomorrow we should be in the centre of Leicester by lunchtime and we plan to spend a couple of nights there to explore the city.

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