Friday, February 15, 2019

There and back again… and back again!

We moved down to Loughborough again on Wednesday, picking up a locking companion at Barrow Deep Lock.
There was a work crew tidying up around the lock, so the top gates were open, and we were able to leave the bottom open, too.

County Road Bridge below the lock.

Heading towards Pillings Lock.

The plan was to pull in below Pillings Lock at that pile of logs we’d attacked before, and top up the roof again. But we’d been beaten to it…

So we continued on into Loughborough, mooring in our regular spot near Chain Bridge.

After a day off yesterday I’d decided to head back to Pillings Lock and the wood pile today, hoping that the chap and his chainsaw had had his fill and toddled off.

The work on converting the old hosiery mill carries on apace.

Blue skies and silver birches

We were out of luck, there was still the boat moored up taking advantage of all that free fuel. So we winded just before the marina entrance, retraced our steps for a couple of hundred yards and pulled in. I’d actually managed to collect some logs elsewhere on our perambulations, and the towpath along there was wide enough to slice and dice them. Job done and a week’s worth of wood stacked up in the cratch, we had lunch then headed back into town.

The Peter Le Marchant Trust base on the edge of Loughborough.
They run two wide-beam trip boats from here, Symphony and Serenade, taking groups of disabled and seriously ill people of all ages on day or 4-day trips. They also have a specially equipped self-drive 65 foot narrowboat available for weekly hire by a family or group with a disabled member.

Instead of mooring in out usual spot in town we went through Chain Bridge, turned right and moored near The Albion pub.

Chain Bridge

The bridge is at the junction between the original Loughborough and Leicester Navigations, before they were combined into the Leicester Line of the Grand Union network. As such, it’s likely that a barrier would have been in place to prevent unauthorised boats from passing from one to the other without paying an appropriate toll. The barrier, I would guess, would have been a padlocked chain.

After a bit of shopping tomorrow we’ll head off north, looking to moor the other side of Zouch for a day or two.

Locks 2, miles 9½   

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Back to Barrow

The river level peaked on Sunday evening, starting to drop by yesterday morning. It rose enough for the flood warning lights to be lit and the navigation closed further downstream at Redhill, though. By this morning it was down to almost where it was when we arrived at Sileby, but running a bit faster.

Dropping down Sileby Lock this morning

Just onto the amber now, “Proceed with Caution”

With the strong stream, care had to be taken on the bends not to oversteer, as the stern tends to be pushed across to the outside. Especially if there’s a weir there too!

A fine morning

Approaching Mountsorrel Lock

Below the lock we had a quick chat with Mike and Jo, of NB Sarah-Kate. Not boating but doing voluntary tidying up around “their” lock. Good to see you again.
It was Mike who left the anonymous comment, along with Stevefree, correcting my mis-identification of Bobby the Black-Headed Gull as Timothy the Tern on Sunday.

On firmer ground with this one, a Little Egret mooching about the shoreline as we came into Barrow.

We pulled in just past the weir again, same place as last time just pointing the other way. The weir is running a bit stronger today…

We’re heading into Loughborough again tomorrow. Two stops on the way, the first to fill the water tank and dispose of rubbish at the services here, the second to raid that cache of wood just above Pillings Lock again. If there’s any left…

Locks 2, miles 2½

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The river’s up…

We weathered yesterday’s attempts by Storm Erik to blow us across the navigation, and by mid-afternoon the wind had dropped and the sun came out.

Timothy the tern was enjoying the sunshine on a half-submerged log across from us…

…but this afternoon his perch has disappeared below the waves.

Rain overnight and this morning has pushed the river up about 6”, but I expect it’ll go back down soon. The Soar is like that, up and down like a yo-yo.

We’ll leave it till Tuesday before we head off back downstream.

Locks 0, miles 0.

Friday, February 08, 2019


That’s the sound we had to put up with last night. Every couple of minutes it happened. Mags and I awake in anticipation of the next one… Meg, on the other hand, was dead to the world!
We called them whale farts, in fact it was air, carried along in the churned-up water, collecting under the base-plate then emerging in a stream of bubbles.

Rather than have another disturbed night I moved the boat up to above the lock, where it’s a little windier but considerably quieter!

Here’s a fact for you. A blue whale’s fart bubble is big enough to hold a horse!

Locks 1, miles, just a little bit…

Thursday, February 07, 2019

To Sileby to top up the tanks.

We had a pleasant day at Barrow, enjoying the sunshine.

Barrow upon Soar Weir

Meg likes it here, just across the weir bridge are open fields where, in the past, we’ve had good, long walks. Those days are gone now, but she still enjoys a mooch about, a roll in the grass and a stick to chew.

She’s doing really well now. For the last couple of weeks she’s been on cannabis oil, also known as CBD. Chatter on the web has been very positive so I thought we’d give it a go. And it’s been well worth it. She seems a lot brighter, is more mobile and agile.

I got her supply from Simply CBD.

The weather changed later in the day, wind and rain moving in. We waited till the rain eased before getting off today, but it was still windy and grey.

Good to see that Barrow Fort is still protecting the village from river pirates…

The river takes a long loop between Barrow and Mountsorrel, the narrow sections flowing quite fast after last night’s rain.

Approaching Mountsorrel, the weir and moorings to the right, and the lock under the bridge ahead.

The bottom gates of the lock were invitingly open, so we were able to cruise straight in. Mags stayed inside while I worked us up, that wind was quite chilly. Another wiggly mile and we were at Sileby Mill, pulling onto the fuel barge.

We took on diesel, four bags of solid fuel, and filled the water tank from the slow hose. While the water was filling I walked around the basin, thinking we might go up the lock to moor above if there was space.

Sileby Mill Basin, below the lock. We’re tied against the fuel barge in the centre of the picture. The water below is coming over the bywash weir.

After we’d finished we pushed across and moored behind the boat on the towpath side. I decided not to go up the lock after all, even though there was plenty of room up there.

View from the side hatch

There are two weirs dropping into the basin. On the right is the bywash carrying water around the lock, to the left is the overflow from the old mill stream. The mill itself is just out of shot to the left.

Sileby was first recorded as a Viking settlement, part of the Danelaw. But following the Norman Conquest it became part of the manor awarded to Hugh de Grandmesnil, one of William I’s lieutenants. He was a favourite, having supported the new king in the capture of Leicester in 1068, and was rewarded with 100 manors, 65 of them in Leicestershire, including Sileby.
The Domesday Book records there being two flour mills associated with the village, and it’s likely that the current building is on the same site. Although it started out as a flour mill, by the end of the 19th century it had been converted to produce leatherboard, a composite material using shredded leather offcuts bonded together and used for boot soles. There were a couple of footwear factories in the village. The mill was bought in the 1980s and is now a private dwelling.

We’ll be here for the weekend now, the weather is supposed to be “interesting”…

Locks 1, miles 2½

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Hanging around Loughborough.

Since Mag’s unfortunate episode the other day we’ve been hanging around the Loughborough area, avoiding locks and anything that looked at all tricky. She’s doing well, thanks for all your concern. The bruises are starting to fade.

We reversed out of the marina; being moored stern out directly opposite the entrance made it easier to do this than turn around in the thin but unbroken ice. Out onto the canal we turned to head towards the flood lock, and spotted a great pile of wood left after the felling of a dangerous tree.
Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth I pulled in, set up the chain saw and pretty much filled the roof with free fuel. We reversed some more, almost up to the flood lock, and I got a fair proportion of the slices chopped ready for drying.
We’d come out of the marina on Wednesday, on Friday we headed back into town.

There’s still plenty of wood left…

Back in Loughborough we moored in our regular spot, up from Chain Bridge.

The weather has been fine, with frosty nights and sunny days, with overnight ice on the canal usually melted again by noon. One of my shopping trips involved picking up a new walking stick for Mags. Her old one is now lurking in the depths near F Pontoon in Pillings Lock Marina…

The last couple have seen a change though, with cloudy overcast days and milder overnight, though after the skies cleared yesterday afternoon, we did have a thin skim of ice left by a sharp frost.

A pretty little female mandarin duck, keeping company with the more common mallards.

No sign of hubby, though.

We’d decided to move on today, not too far, maybe only back to below Pillings Lock. So we turned left under Chain Bridge, heading to the old terminal basin for water and rubbish disposal.

Moored on the pontoons there were Mick and Sue on Mercury, with whom we came up off the Trent a couple of weeks ago. Mick came across to enquire which way we were going, and we agreed to share locks, at least until Barrow Cut.

We filled with water and set off, they pulled across to do the same and followed us.

Waiting for our lock companions at Pillings Lock.

The warning signs have all be recently replaced. We only had time to make a mug of soup before they arrived.

In the lock with Mick and Sue.

A fine but short stretch of river up to Barrow.

County Road Bridge straddles the navigation just below Barrow Deep Lock, and can be awkward if there’s a lot of water coming down the river channel. It enters almost opposite the bridge, the lock is through the centre arch and to the left.

We parted company once again with Mick and Sue at the lock. They were pressing on to Sileby while we had decided to stop here at Barrow. It’s further than we’d planned, but the chance to share the locks, especially Barrow Deep, was too good to pass up.

We pulled in on the moorings in the cut, and I walked up to see if the rather better moorings just above Barrow Boating were free. There was one space so we moved up to there instead.

In front of us is the weir that takes the river around the lock cut.

We’ll stay here tomorrow, then head up to Sileby on Thursday. We need diesel and a couple of bags of solid fuel to keep the stove in overnight. Through the day the wood keeps the boat warm.

Locks 2, miles 7