Friday, June 27, 2014

Well, the gardeners and farmers need it…

That’s what I kept saying to myself as I worked Mags up Barrow Deep Lock in a torrential shower, water running down my neck, soaking my shorts and running into my boots.
But no matter how loud I said it, it didn’t quite block out the insistent little voice in my mind saying, “But you’re not a gardener or a farmer!”

Yes, we woke up to drizzly rain after a showery night, set off in drizzly rain from Loughborough and got wet through at Barrow. But it did dry up a bit on the way to Mountsorrel, and it’s a fine sunny evening now.

Leaving Loughborough moorings
The boat in front is one of the Peter Le Marchant charity trip boats, Serenade. He’d just set off ahead of us when the shout went up from below – “We’re one short!” One of the passengers had wandered off into town first thing and not returned. A search party was despatched…

The River Soar Navigation, running from Freeman’s Meadow Lock in Leicester to the Trent, was built in two separate sections. The Loughborough Navigation was completed first, running north from Loughborough Wharf, the Leicester Navigation connecting with the earlier waterway and linking Leicester was 15 years later, in 1791. Both are based on the river, improvements to the depth, lock cuts and weirs making it navigable. They were built to take broad craft, so Trent barges could trade from the larger river right into Leicester.
To take boats further south the Leicestershire and Northampton Union Canal continued on from Freeman’s Meadow to terminate at Market Harborough. This opened in 1809.
It only remained for the Old Grand Union Canal, 23 miles from Market Harborough (Foxton) to Norton Junction, to be built and the north-south route would be complete. The dream of constructing a wide-beam transport route from the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire coalfields to London was dashed though, when construction economies meant that this stretch was built to narrow gauge in 1814.
The four sections are now collectively known as the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal. 

With the weather as it was I only took a few photos, and those are poorly framed and often wonky.

Leaving Loughborough, now on the Leicester Canal. IMG_0306

Pillings Lock is used in winter and during high water levels any other time, protecting the artificial section through Loughborough from flooding.IMG_0308

The river from Pillings to Barrow Bridge is short but attractive – when it’s not raining!IMG_0310
We’re following another of the Peter Le Marchant boats, this one is Symphony.

Barrow Bridge can be interesting if the river is up; the weir stream comes in just the other side of the bridge, and the lock cut needs a sharp left turn.

And the navigation arch is well marked…
IMG_0312 Crop

It was when we were in Barrow Deep Lock that the heavens opened, so there’s not a lot you can do.
Even the ducks were less than impressed.

Mum trying to keep the brood dry and warm

It did ease a bit as we filled with water and emptied the loo and rubbish at Barrow Boating, but even so we did consider mooring near the weir. We decided to push on to Mountsorrel, though, the right decision as it turned out.

Looking across the fields to the 1860 Bridge.IMG_0316
That’s the War Memorial on the hill above the village.

The brick-built bridge is an architectural gem, but it only ever carried a single track mineral line from the quarries to the main line. Now there’s only a conveyor.IMG_0317

Approaching Mountsorrel LockIMG_0318

The weir stream

We managed to get on the end of the moorings above the lock, just a couple of feet of the counter overhanging the lock landing.IMG_0323

I said yesterday that the river can be fickle; it had risen several inches during the day, at 12:50 getting close to the amber zone on the marker below the lock.

Five and a half hours and a heavy shower later…IMG_0325
No green to be seen. The level was up about 5 inches.

Oh well. We’re not going anywhere tomorrow anyway. Maybe not Sunday, either!

Hi Adam, Thanks for the comment about the Avon Belle at the Rose and Crown. A bit more info gleaned from a local today. Apparently she came under Zouch Cut bridge to get to her current mooring, but only after they stripped everything off the roof and weighed her down with barrels of water. It’ll be all right if they only run cruises with a full complement of passengers – large ones!

Locks 2, miles 5

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