Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Meg gets a dunking, and we exercise our locking muscles…

We moved up to Foxton to join Sue and Vic on Sunday. An uneventful 1 hour’s gentle cruise, in pleasant weather.

Spent a quiet couple of days, pottering about and walking the dogs, then today we set off to go up the Foxton flight of locks. Well, we can’t be up here and not do them, can we? The flight is one of the iconic sites on the canal system.

Built in 1810 and lifting the canal 75', they were in continuous use until 1900. Increase in traffic causing congestion, and railway competition made the Grand Junction Canal Carrying Company to rethink the solution, employing Gordon Cale Thomas to design a boat lift to carry a pair of narrow boats (or a wide beam barge) up alongside the flight. Unfortunately, failure to widen the flight at Watford Gap meant that the potential for wide beam carriage could not be realised, and trade on the canal continued to be lost to the railways. Finally a decision was made in 1911 to mothball the lift and put the locks back into commission. It was never put back into use and the machinery was sold for scrap in 1928. The site remained derelict until a recent lottery grant enabled the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust to clear and tidy the area, now providing a valuable amenity.
The Trust untimately aims to put the lift back into working order. I'll certainly be there on that day!
There's a lot more information at the website http://www.fipt.org.uk/

Sue volunteered to join us, opening the 2 swing bridges to the junction, then helping us up the flight.

"Snap" at Bridge 4
It was at the second, new, swing bridge that I heard a scrabble of claws then a splosh. Looked around and Meg is splashing around behind us. So I stopped the boat (we were going dead slow anyway), she caught up and I hauled her back on board. No harm done, just puddles of canal water through the boat till we got her reasonably dry.

I think she was leaning out to watch Lucy and Meg on the towpath, and lost her balance. None the worse for wear, she had a good chase around at the bottom lock.
We got to the junction to find another boat just ready to go up. Typical, ain’t it. We seen no more than a couple of boats a day, then one sneaks in front of us! Only joking, they didn’t hold us up at all, even though they were novices.

Into the bottom lock
Just past ½ way, the view opens up...
Sue with Lucy and Meg
Posing at the top.
Terrible picture, taken with the camera sat on top of a post, using the timer. Chopped ½ my head off!
We filled with water at the top and said goodbye to Sue. We’ll meet up again in a week or so, to share the locks going north to and through Leicester.

A very pleasant couple of hours, just gently cruising along and admiring the views took us to a likely spot just 1 mile short of Husbands Bosworth. That’ll do for tonight.

On the Summit Level
Moored near Bridge 47.
We’ve been spoilt by the good towpaths around Foxton. Down here they’re muddy and badly eroded in places. Good job we’re only here the 1 night.

Here’s one for Carol, spotted just south of the locks.
Locks 10, miles 5

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