Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Home Turf

I was born in Syston and spent most of my teenage years in Thurmaston, so this stretch of the navigation is very familiar, initially from the cockpit of a canoe.

This morning was murky and misty as predicted, Meg and I had a walk up to the village for some supplies and had an encounter with horses. They were no trouble, obviously quite used to sharing their paddock with dog-walkers. It was on the way back  thought we might have a spot of bother. Meg doesn’t do large four-legged animals, equine, bovine or even ovine. So when this guy was reluctant to move from his chin-scratching post I thought she might panic.
But with a bit of shoving and pushing I managed to get the gate open, Meg standing alongside completely unflustered.

Through the gate, time for a sniff.DSC_0129

We were ready to move off at around half-ten, but a short shower delayed departure till about 11:15. No rush, two locks and four miles to get to Thurmaston.

The worked out gravel pits at Cossington Meadows are now a wetland nature reserve.SAM_6467

Lots of backwaters to explore by canoe around here, Jill and SueSAM_6469

Narrow wiggly bits lead to wide open reachesSAM_6470

Cossington Lock, half an hour away, was our first for today. If it wasn’t for the traffic noise from the A6 almost alongside it’d be a lovely place to moor.

Turning into Cossington Lock cut. Straight on under the bridge leads around to Cossington MillSAM_6471

Two boats were just leaving the lock as we arrived so we timed that well.

Holding off…..

Not before time, the balance beams on the lower gates have recently been replaced. They were certainly past their sell-by date!

Taken last summer…..
SAM_2473 Cossington Lock[4]

Just above the lock there’s a fork, the navigation taking the left hand branch. The right branch has a short stretch of moorings before becoming un-navigable.SAM_6473

We actually follow the River Wreake for a mile, although it’s still known as the Soar Navigation. The Soar is the water coming in from the right-hand branch, after it meanders around Wanlip.

The navigable bit of the River WreakeSAM_6477
This is like what we’d be able to enjoy if MOWS has it’s way….

Junction Lock lifts the navigation another six feet or so, then there’s a straight section to Turnwater Meadow, where the Melton Mowbray Navigation heads off towards the town, with a branch to Oakham. Or at least it did, but it was abandoned in 1877.

The new bridge across Wreake Junction.SAM_6481
This was built to accommodate the new cycleway from Syston to Cossington. The old one was lower, flatter and had steps at either end, therefore unsuitable for wheeled traffic. This one is now high enough for boats, for when (if) the navigation is ultimately restored. Every cloud, eh.
There’s a boom across the entrance for now, to discourage those with an adventurous spirit…

From here the channel is wholly artificial, passing extensive worked-out gravel pits, those to the west now forming part of Watermead Country Park.

Definitely a canal….SAM_6485

The long straight ends just before Thurmaston, at Johnson’s (we used to call it Jonno’s) Bridge, where the river is rejoined.

Off goes the Soar, under the towpath bridge to CossingtonSAM_6487

I’ve launched many a canoe at Thurmaston Scout HQ… and capsized plenty, too!SAM_6488

Ah, Doug and James must be around here somewhere…SAM_6489

…yes, there’s Chance in the tunnel!SAM_6490

We moored directly opposite MGM, below the lock.

Moored in ThurmastonSAM_6491

Doug and James are joining us this evening for a fish and chip supper. Looking forward to that.

Locks 2, miles 4.

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