Sunday, August 07, 2016

Two short days

In fact one short and one very short!

A fine sunset on Friday night.

We left Birstall yesterday morning after making a last trip to the Co-op. Russ and Elaine helped us down the lock, They may well catch up with us at some point in the next week or so.

Leaving Birstall Lock, Russ and Elaine just visible through the bridge.IMG_1197
I meant to take a photo while we were working the lock, but was too busy chatting!

There’s a winding, overgrown section of river below Birstall, ending at the bend where the entrance to Leicester Marina is located.

Heron posing in the treetops
For a big, ungainly looking bird they balance remarkably well. It still doesn’t seem quite right though, somehow…

We met a party on one of Sileby Mill’s day boats coming up Thurmaston Lock. Enthusiastic learners, I guess you could call them, as they wove to and fro towards Birstall.
There are what appear to be good moorings on the island just above the lock, but beware, the ground is thick with goose poo.IMG_1203

The natives seem to be friendly, or at least indifferent.IMG_1205

The river runs parallel and a few hundred yards away from Thurmaston’s Main Street, so you don’t really see anything of the village from the water.

The Soar disappears under the low Johnson’s (Jonno’s) Bridge.IMG_1206
We’ll not rejoin it till Cossington Lock.

This canal section runs between several worked-out gravel pits. Those on the left, west, side are now part of Watermeade Park.

I remember canoeing on here when gravel-carrying narrowboats where still using this entrance…

Ooh look, a snake!

We pulled in just before Wanlip Road Bridge.
Shady and a bit shallow, it’s not ideal on a fine summer’s afternoon, but we were meeting my brother Andy, his partner Donna and son Luke in the evening. They came bearing gifts, mostly of the liquid kind, and we had a great evening chatting.

Mags decided it was high time there was a picture of me on here, so here we go…

A much better one of Meg.

Today we’ve just toddled on a short distance to find a sunny spot with fewer people passing.

Under the bridge, outside the Hope and Anchor pub, is a popular spot for “lurkers”.IMG_1221

There used to be a water tap here, but the pub was paying for the supply and they finally got fed up.

Old Junction Boatyard has been here for some time

The “Old Junction” is of course the connection between the Leicester Navigation (this bit of the Grand Union Leicester Section) and the River Wreake Navigation.IMG_1225

The River Wreake Navigation, or Melton Mowbray Navigation, was authorised in 1791 and was completed to Melton in 1797. Using the bed of the River Wreake for much of it’s length, the main cargo uphill was coal, downhill agricultural produce (maybe pork pies?).
An extension to Oakham, an all-artificial waterway was opened in 1803, and both canals prospered… for a while.
By 1840 the railways were the new thing, and a proposal to build a line linking Syston, Melton Mowbray and Oakham made the Oakham Canal Company see the writing on the wall. They sold out to the Syston to Peterborough Railway in October 1847, and the canal was infilled and used to carry the new permanent way.
Almost overnight trade on the Meton Mowbray Canal was halved, leaving the proprietors with a lame duck which no-one wanted to take off their hands. Cutting back on maintenance to save costs only made the always-difficult navigation even harder. The company threw their hands up in defeat in 1877, and an Act of Abandonment was secured on 1st August of that year.

It’s believed that recovery of the waterway is possible; all but one of the 12 lock chambers still exist, and the river channel is still open although shallow and badly silted up. It would be challenge…

We pulled in on piling about halfway between the old junction and Junction Lock. It pleasantly sunny here, although the recent towpath upgrade does encourage some cyclists to go a little faster than prudence would suggest…

Still, it is Sunday.

Locks 2, miles 3

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