Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leicester at it’s best in the sun.

We were up good and early this morning, I’d had a run, Meg’d had a walk and we were ready to move at 08:45.
There were 2 boats moored overnight below the lock, and the first of these came up, so we took advantage of the full lock. Just going in and the second of the 2 was waiting at the bottom, so we could leave the lock open. A good start to the day, which continued in the same vein; locks set in our favour all the way apart from 2.

Just below King’s the River Soar makes it’s first appearance, flowing under a 15C packhorse bridge then under a rather more recent towpath bridge as it joins the navigation.

The river flows in…

The water immediately changes. From being cloudy and still, it becomes clear and full of life.

You can see the bottom….
It smells clean, too.

Aylestone Mill Lock has a curious structure built alongside, with “Aylestone Globe MM” inscribed around the top.

Aylestone Globe.

It’s an artwork by Richard Janes.

Approaching the edge of the city proper is the last lock south of the centre, Freemans. With a huge crescent shaped and unprotected weir alongside, it’s not the place to hang about when the river is in flood.

Freemans Lock and Weir. Leicester City FC’s ground is just out of picture to the left.
The “Mile Straight” (in point of fact only 0.8 miles, but who's counting), takes the canal/river through the centre of the city, and here we met another couple of boats coming the other way. Apart from those we saw at King’s Lock, these were the first today. The navigation is bordered by newish buildings set back from the water, giving it a spacious, open feeling. That all changes after North Lock, as the river shoots off to the left to take a tour around Abbey Park.

Off goes the river.

Discarded (at least I hope so!) wheelchair at the water point above Limekiln Lock.
From Limekiln Lock to Belgrave Lock is the grottiest stretch, shallow and dirty, the propeller lifting clouds of black, stinking silt from the bottom.

It looks quiet nice, but don’t fall in!
We often hit the bottom just on that bend, but today got over without incident. There must be something in the water, or this heron was being very optimistic.

Heron below Limekiln Lock
He does look a bit thin, doesn’t he.

The IWA held a National Rally here in 1967. A plaque at the lock commemorates the event.

Below Belgrave Lock the river rejoins, and the water quality improves no end.

There was a gaggle of canoeists out from the Outdoor Pursuit Centre at Loughborough Road.

Enjoying the river.
The channel through Leicester is generally quite wide, even on the artificial cuts. But there’s one bit that’s narrow, where it ducks under Thurcaston Old Road on a bend. And, of course, this is where we met the next pair of boats coming the other way.
A quick reverse to let NB Verity through, then the current helped us through just before a Canaltime boat came around the corner.

NB Verity through Thurcaston Old Bridge.

Floating Pennywort is an invasive species, imported from New Zealand in the 1980’s, and now escaped from captivity. The Soar is particularly blighted, and the first sightings were made as we approached Birstall.

It’s a problem because it forms dense mats of vegetation, starving the water of light, and bungs up water control weirs increasing the risk of flooding. Quite a bit of work has been done to keep the water clear, but it’s going to be an ongoing battle.

We arrived at Birstall at around midday, dropped down the lock and moored.

Moored at Birstall.

We’ve had a dry trip, but just had a light shower as we tied up.

I mentioned earlier in the week that Meg has a sore paw. Despite my best efforts it doesn’t seem to be improving, so I took her up to Borrajo’s, the vet in the village. She’s been there before, when she was spayed before we got her, and since for annual boosters. We came away with some antibiotics and antiseptic wash, and another appointment for next Friday. So we’ll travel a bit down the river before coming back next week.

Locks 8, miles 6½

No comments: