Thursday, July 03, 2014

Last of the broad locks

For a while, anyway.

We headed up the last stretch of the canal to Foxton today. Another fine day, a little cooler being overcast for most of the time, but that was a relief.

We were just too late away to share these last five locks, a boat passed as I was taking Meg for a walk. Since we left Birstall on Tuesday morning we’ve not had the opportunity to share any locks, and out of the 27 we’ve ascended, I’ve had to turn 25! Just bad timing, I guess.

Last night’s mooring, a bit too close to the railway, though.IMG_0003

Cranes Lock, our first for todayIMG_0471
After a lock-free interlude around Wistow, we’re back to rising ground and consequently more frequent locks. The five we did today were spread across just a mile of canal.
More walking than riding for Meg and I…

Fine Leicestershire countryside

Mags waiting at Pywells Lock, the second todayIMG_0008

Taylors Turnover Lock is where the towpath crosses sides for a bit, and we were also accosted by a cross Jack Russel who didn’t want us to be there.

Angry terrier (just beside the brick area)IMG_0012
I put Meg back on board to avoid any unnecessary confrontations, so the little bitch had to be content with following me about, barking.

Just over an hour after setting off we were coming up Kibworth Top Lock, our last for the day, and the last of the broad locks on the Leicester Line.

Kibworth Top Lock

As we left the lock two Canaltime boats came around the corner, heading down. As I said, just bad timing.

We pulled over for a hour or so so I could nip up to the Co-op in Fleckney, then pushed on towards Foxton.

Paddling at Fleckney

Saddington Tunnel is the first we’ve encountered since Harecastle.IMG_0024

At only 880 yards it takes about 10 minutes to to through. It’s two-way as well, wide enough for boats to pass but I‘m glad we didn’t meet anyone coming.IMG_0027

Near the far end the camera flash picked out a bat-box fixed to the ceiling. IMG_0032
The tunnel is home to a colony of Daubenton’s bats, but we’ve never seen one in several passages through.

I caught a glimpse of a kingfisher as we came out of the tunnel, but, like the bats, he didn’t hang around for a picture.

There are very pleasant moorings near the feeder from Saddington Reservoir.

NB Owl has a private gardenIMG_0040

South of the tunnel the canal twists and turns as it clings to the contour below Smeeton Hill. At one point it performs a tight hairpin, damage to the concrete copings evidence of the fact that not everyone makes it in one go…

The stretch just before Debdale Wharf is a designated SSSI, with restricted vegetation control.

SSSI at DebdaleIMG_0048
Although this was no worse than some other bits…

I’m glad we didn’t meet this wide-beam in the narrow bits…IMG_0050

After the wharf the canal makes a determined effort to head south, making a beeline for the ridge between the villages of Foxton and Gumley.

Heading south now to FoxtonIMG_0053
This was the slope that was climbed first by the staircase flight of ten narrow locks, then later by the inclined plane alongside. Sadly we’re back to the locks again now. I’d love to ride on the lift… Not in my lifetime, I guess.

I expected it to be busy here, and toyed with the idea of mooring before we got to the little footbridge, the last before the junction. But it seemed quiet beyond, in fact there were only two boats on the moorings there. We joined them.

At the junction…. the original line of the Leicester and Northamptonshire Union Canal to Market Harborough to the left, our route up from Leicester to the right and the locks dead ahead.IMG_0055

The Grand Junction Canal Company (GJC Co, above) bought the whole length down from Leicester when they completed the link from here to Norton Junction in 1814. In 1931 this and the remaining Loughborough Canal up to the Trent was absorbed into the expanding Grand Union Canal network.

Up the locks tomorrow…

Locks 5, miles 6½

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