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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

Weston on Trent

The weather changed a little overnight. We awoke to a rather chilly, misty morning. The spiders had had fun during the night, there were webs everywhere!

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It was so misty that we couldn’t see the cooling towers of Ratcliffe power station that usually dominate the skyline around here. For most of today and part of tomorrow we are repeating part of our 2012 trip on the way back from York. The first part of the Trent & Mersey from Shardlow to Burton has deep,wide locks with heavy gates. We were tired by the time we got to Weston on Trent, so we stopped early and went for a pleasant walk around the village.

Near Kegworth

A great day today. The River Soar is really lovely. We enjoy cruising on rivers, but often (e.g. Trent, Severn & Thames) they are wide with large locks, but the Soar is much more intimate, with ‘normal’ sized locks.

We needed a pumpout so we stopped at Sileby Mill boatyard. The pumpout connection was on the wrong side, so after exiting the lock, Heddi winded in the boatyard entrance and reversed back to the service barge. Whilst I walked round and got ready to grab a rope.But I wasnt needed as she edged up the services perfectly. After doing the pumpout and buying some other bits, I turned the boat round again and we headed off. A short stop in Barrow on Soar to top up the water and a bit of shopping, then on to moor for the night about 1/2 a mile before Kegworth deep lock. It was a warm sunny evening so we sat outside on the topath until almost bedtime.

 

 

Thurmaston lock

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We had been a little apprehensive regarding today’s trip. Various people had warned us about going through Leicester, but actually it was quite enjoyable. We were away by just after 7 o’clock and the first few locks were set in out favour. On arriving in Leicester we had been expecting rubbish strewn water and dereliction, but the water was crystal clear and the environs very pleasant. After the ‘mile straight’ we caught up with another boat, with a scottish family and their friend on board. They were very helpful and did most of the work at the next three locks. We stopped for a late breakfast just below Birstall lock. Then moved only a short distance to below Thurmaston lock. We moored here 9 years ago on Symphony.

It was very busy with people enjoying a Sunday walk/cycle ride around the water park. We went first for a bike ride including an ice cream stop. Then later after most people had gone home, we went for a walk around the lakes.

 

Above Gees Lock

We left Foxton at around 7:30. It was rather cloudy but not too cold. We expected to see the two hire boats with the youngsters on moored up around the corner, but they weren’t there. A very pleastant cruise on to Saddlington Tunnel. As we were entering the tunnel we could see that another boat was ahead of us.on reaching Kibworth top lock we realised that the boat we could see was one of the young people’s hire boats. This was there first lock and the was much activity, but not a lot of progress. But they were keen and soon got into the routine of locking. We had expected that they would have a late lie-in, but they said that they were keen to get to Leicester today. We followed them for the first 5 locks, but then they said we could go ahead, so we locked down Newton top lock with one of their boats and ten carried on while they waited for the other one. We continued on our own until Ervin’s lock where we met another boat who had waited for us. We shared the next three locks with them and then we both moored up just above Gees lock were entering the tunnel we could see that another boat was ahead of us.on reaching Kibworth top lock we realised that the boat we could see was one of the young people’s hire boats. Tis was there first lock and the was much activity, but not a lot of progress. But they were keen and soon got into the routine of locking. We had expected that they would have a late lie-in, but they said that they were keen to get to Leicester today.

We followed them for the first 5 locks, but then they said we could go ahead, so we locked down Newton top lock with one of their boats and ten carried on while they waited for the other one.  We continued on our own until Ervin’s lock where we met another boat who had waited for us. We shared the next three locks with them and then we both moored up just above Gees lock.

We had planned another bike ride, but Heddi’s back tyre had another puncture! We pushed it back to the boat and I repaired it on the towpath.

Lovely warm, sunny evening.

 

Bottom of Foxton locks

A great day today. We re-acquainted ourselves with the ‘Old Union’ summit. We last came this way 12 years ago and strangely couldn’t remember any of it!. Ususally when we re-visit a canal we can recall previous visits even if they were a long time ago, but this time – nothing.

At around 10:30 we arrived at the top of Foxton locks. There were  two other boats ahead of us, but when we went to see the lockie he said that one of them hadn’t booked in,  so we would be second down after the boat already in the staircase came up. I wasn’t too sure how this would go down with the boat in front of us as the guy on there seemed to think that he didnt need to book in. He later went down to see the lock keeper and came back having been put straight and said “When the first ones goes you go round us and we’ll follow”.

Foxton lock are quite impressive, so much so that they are a tourist attraction for Leicestershire folk. The flight consists  of two staircases of five chamberss separayed by a passing place. Unlike some other staircases these have ‘side ponds’ which act as a reservoir for each chamber. The paddles are slightly different from other staircase locks as they let the water in and out of the side ponds, rather than between the chambers. To get the order right the paddles are colour coded. A little ditty to ensure correct operation is “Red before White you’ll be alright, White before Red, you’ll end up dead!”

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Having successfully got down the flight without any mistakes, we moored up and the then cycled into Market Harborough along the towpath.

We ate in the pub in the evening. As we were eating two hire boats full of animated young men and women came round from Market Harborough. They moored up for a while and then moved on. We were to meet them later!

Bridge 36 ‘Old Union’

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A day of contrasts. Energetic locking, long, dark, damp tunnels and tranquil journeys. The morning started out very misty as we chugged through Braunston and up the flight of 6 wide locks. We have been this way before, but it was 13 years ago and we had forgotten how lovey it is. We had to wait about half an hour before we could start the Watford flight. This is  3 single locks with a staircase of four in between. A lock keeper is on hand to give advice and control the flow up and down.

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Both Braunston tunnel and Crick tunnel are fairly long, but high and wide enough for two narrowboats to pass. Once we had left Watford locks we have hardly seen any moving boats, it’s very quiet.

 

Braunston Junction

Now moored just before the junction on “Braunston Puddlebanks”. A beautiful sunny day again today. A great day’s cruising the first 11 miles lock dree then down the Napton flight with every lock set in our favour, or a boat coming up as we approched. Another barbecue!

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Claydon top lock

We are setting out to go to the Cutweb rally at Alvecote, but we are going a long way round, via Liecester.

First we called in at Soverign Wharf to buy a new battery, one of our domestic back is at least 6 years old as it was on the boat when we bought it. Fitting the battery was rather difficult as access is poor and lifting the batteries in and out very difficult. I had the job done by 3:00 and we set off.

It was a fantastic day weatherwise and we sat out in the evening nad hada barbecue.

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Cropredy

There is quite an autumnal air around now. This morning the mists were rising from the canal and it looked really beautiful. We set off just after 7 and had a good run until we hit queues about 10 o’clock. A breakfast  stop was taken opposite “The Pig Place”, a farm shop and camp site by Nell’s lock.

Because of all the queing at locks we didnt reach Cropredy until about 6. Instead of going into the marina we moored just above the lock for the night.

Lower Heyford

I got up at 5:30 to do some more work, then we set off at 8:00. It was sad to say goodbye to the Thames, we had enjoyed it emensely.

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Back on the Oxford canal we headed for Lower Heyford where we had arranged to meet friends Andrew & Shiela who were driving over from their mooring at Berkemstead. They arrived about 5 bearing the evening meal. A good time was had by all.

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