Friday, August 17, 2012

Foxton to Fleckney

We decided on an early start today, just in case there were a few boats about wanting to go up or down Foxton Locks. The chains on the top and bottom locks are removed at 8 o’clock, and we were on the lock landing at 08:45, first in the queue.

Foxton Top LockSAM_2322 Foxton Top

I checked in with the duty lock-keeper, finding out that there were three boats in the flight coming up, as soon as the last of those was clear we could set off. The last boat up was a Canal Cruising Club boat from Market Harborough with an inexperienced crew, so it was about an hour before we made our start downhill.

CCC NB Eastern Promise on the way upSAM_2323 Foxton Locks

I‘d helped the first boat up the locks, by this time two or three other boats had arrived at the top so crews went down to assist the remaining boats up. In fact, by the time we set off at the head of our convoy, we had another 5 boats waiting behind. Worth getting up early then!

Mags bringing Seyella down the top half of the flightSAM_2325 Foxton Locks

There’s a short pound halfway down, and we passed a boat waiting there to come up. He’d have quite a wait; there were at least another two following us.

Starting out on the lower five chambers, NB Celebration in the passing pound behindSAM_2326 Foxton Locks

The different coloured paddles control the flow through the flight, using side-ponds to store the water between locks.
The red paddle starts to draw water form the side-pond into the next one down, while the white paddle refills it from the one the boat is in.

Side pond in useSAM_2330 Foxton Locks

Although built in 1814, the locks have been refurbished since then.
SAM_2334 Foxton Locks

Out of the bottom lock after about an hour, we swung around in the entrance to the lower arm leading to the dismantled inclined plane boat lift, to fill with water and empty rubbish and a loo tank.

Looking into the lower arm, the grassy slopes of the incline in the distanceSAM_2335 Lower Plane Arm
The lower arm is currently used for residential moorings, but they’ll have to relocate if the Trust manage to get the lift restored….

I’ll not rattle on about the inclined plane, if you want to know more about this example of late Victorian engineering it’s all on the link above. Suffice to say, if they get this remarkable bit of kit re-opened I’ll be here….

Foxton Locks Inn, the bottom lock and lower basin.SAM_2336 Lower Basin

Foxton Locks drop the canal 75 feet, the first descent of the long slope down to the Trent valley. Over the next 43 miles, we’ll be dropping 320 feet till Redhill and the junction of the rivers Soar and Trent.
There’s 4½ miles of winding, narrow canal before the next locks at Kibworth.

This looks a bit dodgy, especially with a bit of breeze blowing…SAM_2340 Dodgy

Debdale Wharf have NB Olivia out of the water for pressure washing and blacking. They’re high trestles!SAM_2343 Debdale Wharf

Narrow and winding towards Saddington TunnelSAM_2347 Narrow and Windy
Between Debdale and Kilby Bridge the canal is a designated SSSI, so vegetation management is kept to a minimum. This makes it a little difficult to see around the corners!

Saddington Tunnel is the final and shortest on the Leicester Line. It also houses a colony of bats, and boxes have been installed throughout the tunnel to make them feel more at home.

Saddington Tunnel, South PortalSAM_2351 Saddington Tunnel
Des Res for bats!SAM_2352 Saddington Tunnel

We pulled in near Fleckney, where there’s a handy Co-op around 10 minutes from the canal. We’re stopping here tonight, shopping in the morning then heading for Kilby Bridge.

Hi, Steve (NB Just Heaven). Our ETA York is about the same, so we should rendezvous at some point. Keep in touch!

Locks 10, miles 5


Adam said...

Looking forward to reading about the next stretch, as we'll planning on doing it next month. It's so long since we last went north of Foxton, we can't remember much at all.

nb Celebration came past us near Weedon at 8.30pm this evening (Sat)!

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Adam,
the best is yet to come... through Leicester tomorrow!
The crew of Celebration must have been trying to make up time after being stuck for so long half way up Foxton...;-}