Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Brinklow at Last - Wednesday 15th June

This morning we crept quietly off the mooring in Brownsover to avoid waking the other sleeping boaters as it was only 6.00 am and we wanted to get back to the marina before the forecasted rain later in the day.

The Brownsover mooring was full on both sides of the bridge as were the moorings at Newbold. The poor weather yesterday afternoon had obviously decided both privateers and hirers to put down their pins for the day. It was reported on the TV news that Rugby had had floods and a funnel cloud but we had not seen anything like that sort of rain, a couple of heavy showers but that was all. My sister who lives near Warwick reported that they had had 2 inches of rain yesterday so we were very lucky.

It was only an hours trip back to the marina and we did not meet any other boats on the move and all was quiet as we reversed onto our pontoon. We quickly packed up the car and did the necessary maintenance jobs on the boat before Autumn Years arrived for a pump out and to say our last farewells. It has been a great 8 weeks and we will miss Graham and Carolann dearly.


We waved off Autumn Years as they exited the marina and after an early lunch and chat to nearby boaters closed down the boat and wended our way home.

No sooner had we left the marina than the heavens opened and we had heavy rain all the way home where it stopped as we turned into our drive. Carolann told us later that they had stopped travelling because of the rain and it had not stopped all afternoon, so a wise choice on our part.

In the 8 weeks we have been away we have hardly encountered any rain and it has certainly not stopped us doing anything. We seemed to have just been in the right place at the right time.

Cruise Stats:

Total Distance                   455 miles, 7½ furlongs

Total Locks                        255 locks

Total Moveable Bridges      62 of which 6 are usually left open;

Total Small Aqueducts      117

Total Major Aqueducts       4

Total Tunnels                    11  which meant travelling 13219 yds underground                     

We travelled:-

144 miles, 7½ furlongs of narrow canals

172 miles, 3¼ furlongs of broad canals

32 miles, 2½ furlongs of commercial waterways

32 miles, 5 furlongs of small rivers

28 miles, 7½ furlongs of large rivers

44 miles, 5¾ furlongs of tidal rivers

93 narrow locks

143 broad locks

19 large locks

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Homeward Stretch - Tuesday 14th June

This morning we left a little later than usual hoping to reach Brinklow before the forecast rain set in. Just passed Willoughby Wharf this canoeist had camped over night covering his canoe with a canvas cover.


At Onley there was only one boat moored when it is usually full; perhaps it could have something to do with the fact that there is now heavy plant and equipment digging out the new Barby Pools Marina. The marina layout is to take the form of a ‘clover leaf’ with a small Central Pool at its heart. This Central Pool will act as a formal water piazza for the public buildings and as a focus for the canal entrance to the marina. Three further Pools will provide secure (non residential) moorings for boats. Together the pools are proposed to provide 550 berths. I am not sure where all the boats will come from and if they do manage to fill it then Hillmorton Locks will not just be the busiest on the network but they could well be over loaded.


At the newly renovated Bridge 80 somebody has already taken a large chunk out of the archway presumably hitting it with a boat.

Down the Barby Straight there is a 90 foot mooring for sale at £90,000 with water but not electric laid on. I don’t know what the going rate for such moorings is but it seemed a bit steep to me particularly as the Barby Marina is right behind it.Barby Straight

We stopped at Hillmorton Wharf for diesel which was 60p/ltr but a notice on the door says it now closes on a Monday and Tuesday until further notice. Not sure what has happened there.

We carried on and went down the locks which were busy with boats coming up.

All along the canal to Clifton Wharf there are ground works going on which looks as though they are bringing in a water supply for the new development at The Rugby Radio Station Mast Site. The area will consist of more than 6,000 homes and developer is to provide access to the northern side via the A5 and access to the southern side via the A428 Crick Road. Eventually the site will have a population of around 15,000.

We stopped at Clifton Wharf for diesel at 75p/ltr and for the first time I can remember there was lots of room to moor at the wharf side. Last time we were there  for lunch at Bridge 66 cafe they were just working on a steam boat they had acquired and I believe when it is finished they will be offering steam boat experiences.

clifton wharf

We moved on and moored up at Brownsover so that we could go and have lunch at the M & S store at the new Elliot Fields Shopping Centre which houses stores like M & S, Next, T K Max, Debenhams etc. It is a very busy shopping centre now and just a short stroll from the canal. They have moved the water point from by the foot bridge to the centre of the park side mooring which seems strange and as yet they have not altered the 24 hour mooring sign; stranger still is that that it is the old type of point rather than the new stainless steel version.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Back on the North Oxford - Monday 13th June

This morning we left Crick and motored through the tunnel which although straight was quite wet in parts. We arrived at the top of the Watford Flight of 7 locks and moored up for a coffee as we waited for a single boat to come. In the background can be seen the M1 motorway bridge.IMG_7961

Just had time to finish the coffee and then we were off down the flight with a Husband and Wife team of Volunteer Lock Keepers lending a hand.IMG_7958

As we reached the bottom lock a boat had come up and was waiting in the first short pound. Its name was Niblic and the owner was a golfer hence the name. As his wife said it takes one to know one.


Just below the locks we went under the main line railway bridge and it is at this point that Rail, Canal and M1 all pass within a couple of hundred yards of one another.IMG_7964

The section of the canal down to Norton Junction is narrow and very shallow but soon we were turning onto the Grand Union main line which is much wider and deeper.IMG_7966

As we headed for Braunston Tunnel  we saw this lovely display of wild poppies in the adjacent fields.


We waited for two boats to exit the tunnel then went in passing another two on route. Although it is over a mile long it is reasonably straight and dry and the other end can be seen.


At the top of the Braunston Lock Flight we caught up with another boat and followed them down passing the Admiral Nelson Pub next to lock 3. Last time we went up the flight somebody had drained the pound next to the pub and the moored boats were leaning on their ropes.IMG_7972

A little further down is the Crooked Cottage.


We moored up at the bottom near to the marina entrance and after some lunch went up into the village to do some shopping.

Afterwards we moved on to moor up for the night out in the country. Just after we moored June’s brother phoned to say that they were in Braunston and where were we. They walked out to us and joined us for afternoon tea and cakes.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

First Trip in the Rain - Sunday 12th June

This morning started dry but after a short while it started to mizzle and then a couple of heavy showers, necessitating putting up the umbrella, but dried up later in the afternoon. It was a fairly uneventful trip passing quite a few boats both moored and on the move presumably because it is the weekend and there are a couple of large marinas on this summit pound.

We moored up in Crick and I went and booked a table for Sunday Lunch at The Mooring Restaurant next to Bridge 12.

They were expecting a large party in at 13.00 hrs so we decided to eat early at 12.30 and had a very good meal served by excellent staff.

A lazy afternoon and then tea and scones to celebrate the Queens birthday on board Autumn Years.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Foxton Staircase - Saturday 11th June

This morning Wendy and Mark joined us for the trip up the Foxton Staircase Locks so when they arrived I went up and found the Lock Keeper to book us in. There were only our two boats going up and one to come down so Autumn Years went first and we followed with the boat coming down having to wait for us in the middle where there is a small pound.

Here at the bottom of the locks, to the left is the Market Harborough Arm and next to it the entrance to where the Inclined Plane would have operated in days gone by. The entrance to the first lock has a pub on either side but hopefully nobody will be drunk when they go up.f1

Autumn Years can just be seen through the lock gate going up in the lock in front of us. In a  Staircase flight the bottom gate of the one lock is the top gate of the one below.


June, Wendy and Mark are operating the locks remembering the import nmuemonic “Red before White and you are all right” and “White before Red and your Dead” being the order to open the paddles otherwise the water will not be used correctly from the side pounds.f2

We moored up at the top lock and went for a cooked breakfast at the café which was enjoyed by us all.

Opposite our mooring this signet was cuddling up to its mom on the nest. It was very small so must have been only a few days old. No this is not our horse power but a model of the horse which would have been used in days gone by.f3

After our breakfast we motored 5 miles to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel where Mark and Wendy left us to walk back to their car at Foxton. We continued on to Welford Junction where we moored up for the day and watched this plane towing up the gliders throughout the afternoon.  The Marina at North Kilworth at last looks as though some progress is being made with shuttering going in around the edges.


After lunch I walked down the arm to Welford where the towpath is diverted around the back of the marina to allow them to gain access to the canal.20160611_162510

At the end of the arm I found the Micron Theatre Boat moored next to the Cheese Boat. I am not sure where they were performing today.20160611_163221

I then went up to the Welford Reservoir which feeds the arm and took a short stroll around it. There were some nice views of the village and the surrounding countryside from the dam.20160611_164814

Friday, 10 June 2016

Narrow Broad Canal - Friday 10th June

We made an early start again today with the canal changing character once again. All along the sides are lovely large clumps of yellow Iris which make a great show.IMG_7935

Although  most of the locks were against us we made good progress the girls having got into a good routine and soon we were passing the Medieval Village of Wystowe which used to be roughly where this church now stands.IMG_7937

At Taylors Turnover Lock this horse and very tiny pony were grazing and in the field next to the lock was this a Marque which looked as though it was being set up for a wedding reception tomorrow.d1

Approaching Saddington Tunnel the canal got narrower and narrower and out the other side it continued to be narrow with 75% of the canal being taken over by reeds on one sharp bend. I believe the stretch of canal up to Debdale Wharf is designated an SSSI and therefore navigation takes second place.d2

We moored up at Foxton about lunchtime and the Foxton Locks Inn had a Jazz Band playing through the lunch service so we had music whilst we ate our delicious sausage baps from the café at the top of the locks.


After lunch we walked around the village of Foxton which is a little way down the arm and has lovely houses including this one just below the church which overlooked the valley.


Our walk took us back up Swingbridge Street to the top of the locks where we indulged in one of the cafes local ice-creams. On the way down the locks we spotted on a boat going up this article which we had seen floating in the canal at Kilby Bridge. We had thought that they were drums or flower pots but were informed by the boater that they were the replica containers that the Indian people use to send off the ashes of their dearly departed. He assured us that this one was empty.20160610_151953

Returning to the boat Jo and John and there granddaughter were visiting Autumn Years and we joined them for afternoon tea and a chat.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

What Chains - Thursday 9th June

All along the navigation through Leicester are these chains strung along the towpath wall. Searching the internet has not thrown up any reason why they should be there.


We made an early start before the day got too hot and were soon passing this tower block which had  letters in each landing window spelling Leicester Champions down from the top. In fact all along our travels for the last couple of days there have been Leicester Flags and bunting out on many properties backing on to the river.IMG_7926

Then at Freemans lock we passed the City Football Ground.IMG_7927

The river is getting narrower and windier by the mile and more difficult to see boats coming the other way although we did not encounter any until Whetstone Lock when there were 4 boats coming down.IMG_7930

The water is crystal clear on this stretch and there were hundreds of shoals of fish of all sizes.IMG_7931

Passing Blaby we could see the mill across the fields which was powered by the River Sence.


We moored up at Kilby Bridge just after mid day before it had got too hot.

Later we went to the Navigation pub by the side of the bridge for a meal.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Short trip to Leicester - Wednesday 8th June

Today we made the short trip up river to Leicester. At Belgrave Lock we could see the unusual building of the National Space Centre but the river and weir looked too narrow to try and go and moor near to it.IMG_7905

The section up to LimeKiln lock was shallow and full of floating debris which is such a shame as it does not create a good image for the city. However, at Frog island the local companies seem to have paid a graffiti artist to paint these great pictures of Frogs and Foxes on the canal facing walls.b1

Next to Evans’ Weir is a small hillock and a raised platform which gives great views over the weir and the city.


At Friar’s Mill the city council have begun to develop the site of the Grade 2 listed Mill and Pump House into offices and a restaurant and in conjunction with C&RT have put in about 75 mtrs of pontoon mooring with water and electricity laid on. They are also building a shower and toilet block behind the pump house. We were able to moor on the pontoons but the site is still under the builder and H & S rules apply. However the kindly builder escorted us to and back from the exit gate so that we could go and visit the city. The site is also locked up at 5.30 when the builders leave. When finished it will be a secure site using the watermate key. I believe we have to thank the City Mayor for the initiative of putting in the very welcome pontoon mooring, he is I also understand a boater. I do hope that the facilities are suitably monitored.IMG_7921

Walking into the city we passed this feature which reflects on the passed use of the site for dying wool and the like.


We visited the Cathedral to see the two new stained glass Richard 111 Memorial windows which were designed and  made by Thomas Denny.b3

We came and saw his Tomb last September but did not notice the trick of the light when you look down the central slot in the top as it gives the impression of there being a sword in it.


Almost hidden amongst the Continental Market was The Sporting Succes Statue, a most interesting and popular piece of commemorative public art. The bronze statue depicts three interlinked figures of sportsmen in action, namely a cricketer, a footballer and a rugby player. It celebrates the outstanding success of local teams in the three sports in 1996 - 97. In the space of twelve months, Leicestershire won the Britannic Assurance County Championship, Leicester City won the Coca Cola Cup and Leicester Tigers won the Pilkington Cup. The sculptor was Martin Williams, and the statue was unveiled in 1998.20160608_130624

The Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower is a major landmark and popular meeting point. It is located where five popular streets meet; Gallowtree Gate, Humberstone Gate (A47), Haymarket (A607), Church Gate (A6) and Eastgates (A47). The Clock Tower was constructed in 1868 and was built mostly in Ketton stone with a base of Mountsorrel granite, and incorporates column shafts made of polished Peterhead granite and serpentine. The statues were made from Portland stone.Officially a memorial, the Clock Tower has four statues of sons of Leicester, one at each corner. The figures are Simon de Montfort, William Wyggeston (spelt 'William Wigston' on the tower itself),Thomas White and Gabriel Newton.


After exploring a little more of the city and its lovely old buildings we wended our way back to the boats and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine on the pontoon and watching the skulls speeding by.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Relaxing Day at Birstall - Tuesday 7th June

This morning I walked up into Sileby village to get a paper from the Tesco Express and found the Chine House Vets where we had to take Alexia 9 years ago. They are in a very large old house and have stables at the back for when they are looking after horses or large animals. The Friends of St Mary’s church are having a Tour of the Tower day next Saturday to raise funds which would have been nice to do as the views would have been great across the Soar valley. The pub opposite the church called the Horse and Trumpet was once owned by the Steamin’ Billy Brewery Co. Ltd.


We had a late start today as we only planned to move on to Thurmaston. We arrived at the ill fated Cossington Lock where 9 years ago whilst on a hire boat we failed to see the turn left sign just out of the lock and continued up the river. On our way back down we met up with Graham and Carolann on Autumn Years and they became our most expensive friends as having seen their boat we decided to have one built ourselves. We did not make the same mistake a second time!!a1

There was no room to moor at Thurmaston so we carried on to Birstall where we moored just below the lock. After coffee I went a walk around the two lakes in Watermead Country Park and spotted this Mammoth on top of a hill overlooking the lakes. Remains of mammoth dating back to the Ice Age have been found in the old quarries from which the lakes have been formed and so a large model mammoth has been constructed on the site to give visitors an idea of what it may have been like in those days.a2

I walked back along the canal and who should be moored just above the lock but Rose, Andy and Tlley on Nb Isander. They came down to see us later in the afternoon and it was great to catch up with all their news.

After lunch we went for a walk around Birstall village. The lane up from the lock passes the by the White Horse Pub with its garden full of people lunching in the sunshine. At the top of the lane is St James church and further around the village are the shops including a co-op supermarket.a3

Monday, 6 June 2016

Sileby Mill - Monday 6th June

This morning we went a walk around Loughborough which turned out to be a very nice town particularly as the main shopping areas have been pedestrianised. 20160606_092225

In the Market place is this unusual statue which is known as The Sock and was created by the sculptress Shona Kinloch, having been commissioned by Charnwood Borough Council "to provide an attractive feature and focus of public interest". It was unveiled in 1998. The statue is of a man seated on a bollard, wearing only a sycamore leaf and a sock, which he is looking down at admiringly. His sock is symbolic of Loughborough's hosiery industry, and the rest of the sculpture contains images from the town's history. As is not unusual in these cases, The Sock was far from universally admired when unveiled but, as predicted, hearts have warmed to it and it is now a well loved feature of the Loughborough scene.20160606_092551

After having a coffee in Tylers Department store; one of the oldest shops in the town having started in 1922 we set off through the outskirts of the town which were quite pretty and the canal clean.a1

We called into Pillings Lock Marina for a pump out. It is a very big marina and you need to follow the signs to find the self service pump out and diesel supply.

Pump out completed we continued through Pillings Flood Lock back onto the river which is narrow and winding with lovely trees down to the waters edge. Travelling under the stone Barrow Road Bridge we came to Barrow Deep lock which is 9ft 7 in deep.a2

The limited mooring above the lock and that by the Mill Basin were occupied so we carried on passing some great looking houses and gardens and this little foal taking a drink from the river with its mother.a3

The river becomes more winding and narrow again and we met Symphony returning from the river festival at Leicester held over the last weekend and then just before Mountsorrel lock these lovely new Dutch Style houses fronting on to a new marina. There were no boats in the marina however, even though mooring were on offer at the entrance.a4

We met a couple of boats coming down Mountsorrel Lock and another as we went up so the girls had some help.a5

Again the limited mooring was full so we went on to Sileby Mill where the mooring below the lock was occupied but we were able to moor up just above the lock. The chairs we out and we had afternoon tea and cakes on the bank followed by G & T’s later on. There is a boatyard at the mill and I went to have a look around and ended up chatting to the very friendly staff. They seemed to have a good range of bits and bobs for boats as well as some day boats for hire. a6