Sunday, 5 July 2015

Melting in the Midlands

The following day we were up early to descend Foxton Locks with the help of CRT volunteers. The locks are open from 8am, Victoria was a bit disappointed we were not the first in the queue! This piece of canal engineering is pretty impressive as it feels like you are falling off the hill.

We then turned right onto the Market Harborough Arm. At the end there's a nice basin with moorings but these seem to belong to the hire firm, who charge £10 per night. We stayed on the free visitor moorings on the towpath just outside the basin, Dave refusing to authorise the unnecessary expense. Market Harbourough is a nice place to visit with shops, but a fair walk from the canal. Having walked all the way in, we decided it would've been worth going on the bikes although uphill with shopping on way home.

Retracing our route to the bottom of the Foxtom locks, we then continued up the Leicester section of the Grand Union. It wasn't always straight forward to moor with shallow edges and poor banks but we stayed over at Fleckney (footpath to village for fish and chips through field of scary cows), by lock 27 between Newton Harcourt and Kilby Bridge and just above Gee's lock (for a special friend). Not much going on around here apart from strange summer weather and amazing evening rainbows.

We even had friendly cows coming to say hello to Middlewich Duck.

We then joined the River Soar at King's Lock and headed into Leicester. The river levels were unusually fine for us (Dave's bad luck usually brings rain!) but always worth checking before going on the river. Look out for the boards.

The usual signs were there that we were approaching a big city (Leicester) but the river was surprisingly pleasant. We passed old warehouses indicating Leicester's industrial heritage:

And a huge weir that would probably pull in strong stream and the very end is unprotected.

We'd heard mixed things about visiting Leicester by boat but we had a great time. The secure moorings are next to the lovely Castle Park that is locked at night but accessable with your CRT key. 

We found Richard the Third (harder than you might imagine being the infrequent church visitors we are) and explored the sights of Leicester.

Interestingly (for cycling-geeks such as ourselves at least) you can moor (oops I mean park) your bike in the townhall for £1 per day. Complete with showers, although after this winter and David's somewhat old-fashioned office, he is pretty handy with a flannel ;-)

We then left Leicester and headed north and started to melt in the glorious weather with perfect blue sky. 

We stayed over by the Hope and Anchor pub then headed for Loughborough. When stepping out of an airconditioned pub (Weatherspoons for cheap beer of course) at 10.30 at night we momentarily thought we were in the south of France. It was still 30 degrees celcius onboard as we had boiled in a sunny mooring. (Preferred moorings for us not in Loughborough basin but on the canal to the east of the junction).

We explored the tropical delights of Loughborough, the Great Central Railway, missing seeing a steam train by a minute because Victoria was staging a heatwave-induced go slow and hadn't cycled fast enough......

And exploring the beautiful sunny Queen's park and the Charnwood museum there (free to get in of course!).

The following day we finally met David's parents on their narrowboat Leo at Zouch. We think Helen was pleased to see us but not sure about Ian, he must have run away!

Great to be travelling in convoy again, even if the double locks are almost finished for now... bad planning!

We then joined the River Trent at the huge Trent Crossroads South-west of Nottingham. We were glad to be going the easy way (onto the canals) not the scary way down the River Trent this time.

At Trent Junction we said Happy 60th Birthday to Dave's auntie Ruth.

 And David got washed for the first time in weeks:

We are now back on the peaceful canals, that turned out to be not so peaceful when we met our first lock queue this year and a lot of turbulance!

We had a flying visit from Victoria's parents and two friends, Dave and Maureen.

And put David's cooking skills to good use in Weston-upon-Trent

That's all for now, we have managed not to completely melt in the Midlands! In the next few days we will be continuing west and then north on the Trent and Mersey canal.

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