Sunday, 31 May 2015

Foxton to Barrow upon Soar

Thu 28th May

Foxton to Market Harborough to Kilby

As we set off to Market Harborough for Hazel’s dentist appointment, we met BCF boats Essence (Adrian and Chris Dann) soon followed by Jubilee (John and Jan Halford).  It is good to see so many BCF boats around.

It takes an hour and a half each way from Foxton to Market Harborough. Amazing buttercups once again.

 Buttercup carpet

We went first to the facilities area to empty a cassette and dispose of rubbish, and then to a place on the visitor moorings.

Market Harborough

We walked the mile into town, visiting Wilko, Sainsbury’s and Aldi, and having lunch in the market café – very good fare. Hazel went for her appointment while James walked back to the boat with the shopping, having just missed a bus.  He used the water tap near the mooring to top up the tank.

Hazel arrived soon after, having caught a bus back.  Her tooth has been smoothed off but not filled.

We set off as soon as we could as we had some catching up to do.  There aren’t many landmarks on the Market Harborough Arm, but we saw Bowden Hall and the factory that disposes of animal carcasses.

 Bowden Hall


Hugo sniffs the air

On the way back to Foxton we met several of the hire fleet returning to base. The swing bridge had developed a fault and was being operated by volunteers.

 Foxton Swing Bridge 4

Very few boats at Foxton

Soon after Foxton we met the wide trip boat going back to Foxton. We didn’t meet any other boats in over four hours of cruising

Thankfully the weather was good, but some of the locks were awkward, with gates swinging open by themselves. 

Swan family

Saddington Tunnel

Lonely Tree

It was a long day, and when we arrived above lock 26 and saw Essence and Jubilee
moored up, we decided to join them, mooring on the lock bollards.   They kindly invited us on board for a glass of wine, but we declined as we hadn’t eaten, it was 9pm and we were very tired.  We asked them where they were heading, and discovered that they were also on the mission.

 L – R Hugo Adrian John Chris Jan Hazel

8 locks, 19 miles, 3 swing bridges, 1 Tunnel

Fri 29th May

Kilby to King’s Lock, Aylestone

As there were three boats, and the locks take two, we decided to slip away early, and leave the other two to share the locks.  Rain was forecast later.

Creeping away early

We crept away, talking in whispers, not starting the engine until we were inside the lock and going down.  A man came along the towpath, and when he was level with Essence, called out in a loud voice: “Good Morning!”

We got to Kilby Bridge at 0840 and found a mooring before the rain started properly.  Trinity and Gospel Belle left a few minutes later, wearing all the wet gear.

We had a cooked breakfast (we deserved it!), and discovered that all the eggs in our box of six had double yokes.

 Two double yoke eggs

We found another BCF boat Remus there (Eric and Sue Lewis) so there were now six, an even number at last. We agreed to share the locks with them when the rain subsided.

Then we discovered that Jubilee needed to stay behind for a friend’s visit, so Essence went down in front of us with no one to share with.

We set off at 1200, and had a very pleasant day locking down towards Leicester in the company of Eric and Sue.  We phoned Anabel, James’ cousin, who lives nearby, but she was entertaining guests.

 Locking down with Remus

Sunshine and cloud

Some of the locks were quite difficult to open, as there was a lot of water around, overflowing the gates at times. It was quite windy and a lot of the blossom had blown off and landed in the water, creating amazing patterns.

Plenty of water

Rivers of blossom

Blossom art

Overtaking Essence

We overtook Essence when they stopped for lunch, and we arrived at Kings Lock Tea Rooms in time for tea and cake. Very civilised.

Essence went on past later.

12 locks, 6 miles

Sat 30th May

King’s Lock, Aylestone to Barrow upon Soar

 Morning sunshine at King’s Lock mooring

King’s Lock and the Tea Rooms

0815 departure as we had a long way to go, the weather was fine, and it was Saturday, when, later in the day, there may be football fans celebrating or bored teenagers on the loose.

We paused at Aldi for provisions. The store is offside, i.e. not where the towpath is. We tied to railings and had to climb underneath them to gain access. We bought some marigolds for the boat roof.

The journey into Leicester was very pleasant. On three occasions we had just started setting a lock in our favour, when a boat came in sight below the lock.  If we had been two minutes later the lock would have been done for us.

Eric Sue and Hazel in Freeman’s Meadow Lock

At Freeman’s Meadow Lock we saw a little egret on the weir. A little later near Soar Lane Bridge we saw another.  We also spotted a bullfinch.

 The Straight Mile in Leicester

A busy moment by Castle Gardens Mooring

Reflection art

At Limekiln Lock we were relieved to see that the two benches there were unoccupied. Last time there were lots of guys drinking.  However, the state of the canal here was very bad, with lots of rubbish, and big bubbles coming up from the bottom, with clouds of black silt making the place stink.

Ageing industrial sites

We got something round the propeller and James was pleased that we had some pond gloves so that he could remove the rubbish without getting foul water on his hands.  It was the remains of a saree plus some plastic.

As we headed towards Birstall we had an unexpected passenger in the form of a whitish racing pigeon, which landed on our roof pallet, after being chased by two other pigeons. He remained on the boat for several minutes, even going through Birstall Lock with us before he decided to fly off again.
Extra passenger

Caption suggestions please

We had lunch on the run as we passed Watermead Country Park and the Hope and Anchor pub.

Leaving Mountsorrel Lock

When we arrived at Barrow, the official visitor moorings were full. Essence had found a space there. We decided to postpone the use of the facilities in favour of finding a mooring, so we continued round the corner, and found the last place, behind Gospel Belle. Remus came alongside. Trinity was in front, and then came Mistol, but Rob and Tricia were not on board.  We saw Peter, Henry and Jack coming back from the shops. Apparently Chris and Diana had just left on Ultreya.

So we now have eight BCF boats all heading for Cotmanhay.  Tomorrow the Baptist Church will think they have been invaded!

13 locks, 14 miles

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