Birstall is very useful for picking up supplies, pubs and of course the vet, but the moorings are alongside the route from the village to the popular walks around the water park. So there are a lot of folk passing the windows, and sometimes having a good gawp in.
It’s not the place to stay more than a night, so we decided to move on and find a quieter pitch for the weekend.
After a bright sunny start, we had a thundery shower just as we were about to set off, so waited half an hour for it to clear.
At Thurmaston Lock we met a day boat out of Sileby Mill coming up the lock, then another couple of boats as we came out after dropping down.
They’ve built a smart new bridge at the tail of the lock, now with disabled access, to the footpaths around the old gravel pits.
New bridge at Thurmaston Lock.
We had another short shower along the long straight up to the Hope and Anchor. There are moorings both sides of the bridge here, but both lengths have sections fenced off due to bank slippage.
DEFRA mesh at the Hope and Anchor.
Just past Old Junction Boatyard we turned left onto what is strictly speaking the River Wreake, running from it’s source over in Stapleford Park.
Old Junction This was once navigable as the Melton Mowbray Navigation, opened in 1797. The entirely artificial Oakham Canal made an end-on connection in 1803, taking the navigation another 15 miles into the county of Rutland. Coal was the main cargo.
Railway competition soon hit hard and in 1847 the Oakham Canal was sold to The Syston and Peterborough Railway who built their trackbed on the line of the canal.
The Melton Mowbray Navigation struggled on but finally succumbed to the inevitable, and an Act of Parliament made the closure official on August 1st, 1877.
There is, of course, a preservation society, Melton and Oakham Waterways Society.
We pulled over after a couple of hundred yards, in a pleasant spot with a wide grassy towpath.
Moored near Old Junction
Meg seems a bit listless and off her food today. It’s probably the antibiotics. We’ll keep an eye on her.
Locks 1, miles 3.