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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

Thurmaston lock

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We had been a little apprehensive regarding today’s trip. Variuos 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 ben 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 peoplehad 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!”

redandwhitelookupfoxton

 

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.

warford

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!

puddlebanks

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.

claydon

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.

back-on-oxford

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.

Swinford Bridge

Last night with spend at Radcot Bridge. The campers all left about 3 o’clock as the weather looked ominous. We just chugged on down river for a couple of hours.

A late start today. I had a work problem to sort out which took up some time. We stopped for lunch about 1:00, but the was no Internet connection so we carried on so I could do some work. We found a nice mooring against a farmer’s field and went for a short walk in the evening.

Lechlade

Another lovely morning so we set off just before eight o’clock. You tend to think of the Thames as big river, but this far upstream it’s quite small and narrow in places and very winding and twisting.

I knew that Rob, a business acquaintance, was on the river in his boat somewhere nearby. I got a text to say they had spent the night moored at Radcot. As we approached we could see them moored just below the bridge. Luckily there was just about room for us to get to the bank next to them. So we pulled in and moored up for a while.Rob came on board and had a look around. He hadn’t been on a narrowboat before (his is a GRP cruiser). After a natter we left and carried on to Lechlade.

We had thought that mooring space would be limited, but we easily found a good spot within reasonable walking distance to the campsite. Our daughters and most of our grandchildren  are coming camping for the weekend.

Two of the Thames lockies on the way up had warned us that the cows in the field next to the river will eat the flowers on the roof of the boat. What they didnt tell us is that the cows alsolike licking the sides of the boats!!

Not long after we had arrived I saw a small GRP cruiser coming up behind and seeming to head striaght for us. As I looked out the side hatch I could hear someone calling. It turned out to be Ian & Nikki Potts with daughter Amilie. They had hired the boat for the day to celebrate Ian’s birthday. They came on board and had tea, and birthday cake. Meanwhile Nikki had arrived with her girls.

We have spent the last two days here, mostly in the campsite with the others, going for walks, playing pooh sticks and generally chilling.

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