Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Swapping Counties.

We had another short but fine cruise today, ending up where we intended to be last night, at Welford Junction.

This morning Meg and I walked up the field rising above the canal to the buildings that the nearby bridge were named after.

Mountain Barn, I guess

Looking back at the canal and moored boats.IMG_1517
As you can see, it was a fine morning.

The summit level of the Leicester Line is very under-rated. Although the canal is shallow and often overgrown, the scenery is delightful.

A bit narrow in places…IMG_1520

Although there are plenty of brick bridges crossing the canal, few carry metalled roads. Most were built as farm accommodation bridges. So it’s quiet and remote up here, the only major crossing is the A14.

Under the A14 bridge

This section, from Norton Junction to Foxton, was built by the Grand Junction Canal Company after getting frustrated by the lack of progress being made on this important north-south link.
The Old Grand Union Canal, the bit north of Foxton up to Leicester and including the branch down to Market Harborough, was plagued by lack of money. Their surveyed route was via Market Harborough to join the Grand Junction Canal at Northampton, all built to broad gauge.
But when the GJCC took over the project they took a shorter, cheaper route, south to Norton Junction. They also operated under financial constraints and built the locks at Foxton and Watford to narrow beam standard to save money, but the intention was always to upgrade them in the future, so Husbands Bosworth Tunnel and all the bridges were built wide enough for the hoped for wide-beam barge traffic.
Of course the increase in trade never materialised, even the expensive Foxton Inclined Plane failed to encourage more use, especially as the Watford Locks remained unchanged.

It’s perhaps as well that the navigation was never upgraded; it’s difficult enough when two narrowboats meet, it would be almost impossible for wide-beams to pass in places.IMG_1529

Of course, it was inevitable that we’d meet another boat in one of the overgrown bits…IMG_1527

We pulled over near Welford Junction soon after noon, with the fore-end in Leicestershire and the stern still in Northamptonshire. I’d take a picture of the boundary sign but it’s disappeared in the undergrowth…

We were planning to be at Foxton for the weekend, but there’s no need now. So we might even stay here tomorrow. Or we might move on to a pleasant mooring we know near the Laughton Hills.

Locks 0, miles 5½

No comments: