All posts by Chris

Big & Small Rivers now it’s back to the Canal

Monday  14th August

This morning we patronised the Rose & Crown for breakfast, good value with Sausage, Bacon, Hash brown, Egg, Beans, Tomatoes, Mushrooms & toast £3.95 per person for their Regular Breakfast .

Feeling well fed we stepped outside to the bus stop and caught the ‘Skylink’ to Nottingham (via East Midlands Airport) and spent the day exploring the city shops but didn’t find a lot to excite us, however Joy bought a new top and a jacket at Primark.

We made our way up to the Castle area and called into  Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England, dating back to 1189AD. We were delighted to find that they had Wren’s Nest bitter on tap, from Howard Town Brewery in Glossop, so naturally we were obliged to sample it and can report that it was most enjoyable. We had been told of it’s existence about 3 years ago (previous blog post) but this was our first chance to sample it.

Ye Olde Trip & Ye Olde Bloke

From Ye Olde Trip website.

Many people believe the pub is named ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’ because people made a trip to Jerusalem from here. In fact the word “trip” does not mean a journey in this case.

An old meaning for ‘trip’ is a stop on a journey, like being tripped up, so the inn’s name means a stop or rest on the way to Jerusalem.

The pub is famous for its caves, carved out of the soft sandstone rock against which the building is set. The larger ground level caverns are now used as the pub’s rear drinking rooms.

Nottingham Canalside

Before catching the bus back we walked along the canal area quite well presented but we thought it wasn’t somewhere we would like to stop overnight.

Tuesday  15th August

After two nights at Zouch we departed at 9am today headed for Trent Junction, five more locks if you include two more open Flood Locks stopping at Kegworth Marine to fill up with diesel at the excellent price of 61p/litre before duty.

Just before Trent Junction, we rounded the corner and saw a boat on the ‘wrong’ side headed into  Redhill Marine, wait… I know those faces, it was Cookie and Russell  from our home mooring arriving to collect Russell’s latest acquisition, a little Springer Waterbug.

Cookie & Russ

We made the turn onto the scarily wide Trent and had hoped to moor on the pontoon moorings there but they were all full so we pressed on to Sawley Lock which is manned, duplicated and automated and we were soon through without having to get off the boat.

Sawley Lock

Sawley moorings were full too so it was off to Dewent Mouth where we joined the Trent & Mersey canal, back onto ‘muddy ditches’!

Derwent Mouth Lock

At  Derwent Mouth Lock we caught up with Katie-Marie, a hire boat crewed by a German couple who we had shared a few locks with on the Soar. Fifteen minutes later we were in Shardlow, and hurrah, an empty mooring, right outside The New Inn and The Malt Shovel.

We hadn’t been there but a couple of hours and around the corner came Cookie & Russ with the Waterbug in tow.

Springer Waterbug

Wednesday  16th August

Today we caught the bus into Derby which we enjoyed visiting, we enjoyed sausage/saveloy and chips in the food court of the intu shopping centre, later I got myself a haircut at a Turkish barbers.

Big Yellow Taxis
Artist at work

On getting back to Shardlow, we saw an artist painting opposite the pubs, wonder if she included our boat?

This evening we took part in the quiz at The New Inn and distinguished ourselves by coming last, well it was only the two of us and some teams had up to eight members.

 

Thursday  17th August

We left Shardlow this morning and watered up opposite the iconic Clock Warehouse, now another pub.

Shardlow Clock Warehouse

Shardlow is considered Britains most complete surviving example of a canal village, with over 50 Grade II listed buildings and a large number of surviving public houses within the designated Shardlow Wharf Conservation Area. Wikipedia

5.80 miles, 4h26m & 4 Locks today ending up at Swarkestone Visitor Moorings a pleasant enough spot, once the freight trains stopped rattling by!

Friday  18th August

Just five miles and one lock today, Stenson Lock were we were met by a Volunteer lock-keeper who asked if we would mind waiting a few minutes as there were eight boats waiting to come down (perhaps due to the upcoming IWA Festival at Ilkeston?) and he could fill the lock quicker if it was empty.

By the time they had brought the two boats down a hire boat had joined us and we went up together, there were 3 Vo-lockies so we could all stay on board. The hire-boaters were first timers and asked for advice as they had never turned a boat round before and they had to return it to Sawley Marina the next day. There’s a winding hole marked in the guide before  the lock but it is now clearly signed No Turning. I think they turned in Mercia Marina’s entrance as it’s good and wide.

We carried on to Willington, a nice little town with pubs, Indian restaurant, chippy, a Co-op and even closer to the railway line! We arrived at the same time as a sudden heavy rain-shower which of course stopped as soon as we had tied up.

Saturday  19th August

We turned around this morning and headed back to Mercia Marina as we wanted to use their facilities. We have the luxury of electricity and water on the pontoon, a laundry room and shower block nearby.

It’s a huge marina with a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, shops and chandlery and currently being further expanded to include another restaurant and six more retail units.

This afternoon we enjoyed a visit from Dave & Maureen from Nottingham, friends who  share our love for the Greek island of Skiathos whom we haven’t seen for many years. We had a good time catching up with each others news and they brought us a gift of some veggies from their allotment which we had with our evening meal.

Chris, Dave & Maureen

Loughborough, Trains & ‘Zotch’

Thursday  10th August

This morning the river level had dropped by about an inch and two other boats came up the lock so we decided to go while the lock was ready for us.  8½ miles and 5 locks today (6 if you count Pillings Flood Lock) which was open, quite a weird sensation cruising through.

Pillings Flood Lock
Sileby Lock
Sileby Weir Stream

We stopped outside the Boat Inn at Loughborough for lunch, but decided to move on a bit closer to the town as we were right opposite a kids playground and some pre-teen boys and girls were screaming and shouting at each other. In fact we found a nice spot just before the junction to Loughborough Basin with easy access to the nearby Aldi through the industrial estate.

My look out post

Friday 11th August

Today was a ‘rest’ day and Joy & Iona went down town for some girly-time at the shops and a visit to Creations Pottery where Iona produced a Penguin!

When they returned I cooked a  not-very chilli con carne as Iona had found the Indian food too hot for her taste, however this meal had sweet chilli sauce added at the table to ‘adjust to taste’.

Saturday  12th August

This morning we packed a picnic and set off for a day at the Great Central Railway and travelled to Leicester and back, we were hauled by a diesel but there were lots of steam photo opportunities.

When we returned to Loughborough we were able to have a tour around the locomotive repair workshop where they are repairing several locos, including Boscastle. Our guide was very kind and even let Iona & Grandpa up on the footplate of Witherslack Hall.

Witherslack Hall

Jeremy arrived later in the afternoon to take Iona back to his boat to do Tardebigge Locks tomorrow, she should sleep for a week after doing them!

Sunday  13th August

After another trip to Aldi we left at about half past eleven this morning, and had help at both Loughborough and Bishop Meadow Lock, I must be looking old as a family on a cruiser insisted on working us through  the first one and a young lass closed the gate for me at Bishop Meadow.

Normanton Church

This next part of our journey was reminiscent of the Thames, with impressive riverside properties, both homes and holiday chalets. Normanton Church was snapped as we passed and at Zouch (apparently pronounced Zotch) we entered another canal section and have moored just before Zouch Lock.

Normanton Flood Moorings

Leicester to Syston

As mentioned in the last episode we had planned to spend a few days in Leicester Marina, a novel experience for us.

Saturday 5th August

Today we  took the bus down Melton Road and Belgrave Road  to the city centre, these roads are known as the Golden Mile and it is renowned for its authentic Indian restaurants, sari shops, and jewellers, and has been described as “the closest that Britain comes to an Indian bazaar”. [Wikipedia]

In the evening we went to a surprise 70th birthday celebration for our friend Carol, her daughter drove over to collect us and we enjoyed a Chinese meal with them all.

Sunday 6th August

Ron the heron fishing

This afternoon our son Jeremy arrived with his children to drop off our granddaughter for a week with us, this time we went out for an Indian meal what else?) at The Owl and the Pussycat.

Quite the unique experience, authentic Indian food in a typical large city pub!

 

Monday  7th August

 

We took another trip to the city centre today with Iona, and had wraps and sandwiches for lunch at Pret a Manger, and visited the covered market for fruit and veg.

 

Tuesday  8th August

We had intended to leave the marina today but the rain persisted all day so we stayed put, Joy & Iona did arty stuff and we watched the ‘Sound of Music’ on DVD in the evening, something I’ve avoided for the last 50 years!

Now we’ve got a ‘Lonely Goatherd’ earworm!

 

Wednesday  9th August

Swan Feeding

The rain stopped (!!!) so at midday we cast off and left the marina after filling our water tank, in just a few minutes we arrived at Thurmaston Lock which was negotiated without any problem despite the river being on yellow boards.

We stopped for lunch near The Hope & Anchor and debated whether to continue onwards so we went on the canalised section, past L R Harris’ Old Junction Boatyard where we spotted nb Rainbows End again.

When we arrived at Junction Lock we found the river below here to be on ‘Red Boards’ so we are moored on the rings opposite the weir to see if the level drops tomorrow.

 

Foxton to Leicester

Tuesday 1st August

Oh My Goodness, it’s August already! We took another short trip today, this was new territory for us and were able to enjoy the views on this stretch.  We found a lovely spot to moor, just short of Saddington Tunnel, and spent the afternoon and night there in splendid isolation and although there was a minor road nearby it was very peaceful.

A bit cloudy but we stayed dry

Wednesday 2nd August

We were off at 9:30 this morning and passed through the die-straight Saddington Tunnel and soon found ourself at Kibworth Top Lock where a C&RT man was ‘letting water down’ to restore water levels further down the flight. We had to wait a few minutes but he told us there was a lady boater a couple of locks ahead who would appreciate sharing locks with us (these are wide locks) and sure enough she was waiting for us with the lock prepared for us to go straight in and we introduced ourselves to Wenna & Molly the dog.

We made good progress  and we soon got into a routine where she would go ahead in her smaller and nippier boat and prepare the next lock while I closed up after us.

We reached our destination of  Kilby Bridge 12 locks later at quarter to four and Joy and I rewarded ourselves with a drink at The Navigation where they have a reasonably priced menu  but we opted to cook a veggie Penang curry on board and put our feet up for the evening.

The Navigation

Thursday 3rd August

Up and away at 10:00 this morning in the company of nb Rainbows End again and at the second lock (Double Rail Lock) we found another C&RT employee adjusting the water levels, he had a trio of gongoozling horses here who he said usually tried to bite him although they were friendly enough to me!

Horsey Gongoozlers

Another dozen locks today through varying rural and townscapes, we had rain showers at lunchtime and stopped below Gees Lock to share some jacket potatoes which Joy had cooked as we travelled along.

Leicester City Football Ground

You can view lots more photos of our trip by clicking here.

We joined the River Soar for part of the journey and finished our journey at Castle Gardens Moorings which are secured by gated access into the park.  The city centre moorings were a far cry from our usual spots with traffic noise, motorbike on the towpath and sirens through the night but we were snug aboard our boat.

Friday 4th August

Another 9:30 start this morning, just 4 locks today as we alternated between river and canal, one stretch of canal was really black and polluted and we picked up rubbish on our propeller but there was no way I was putting my hand in that water so it had to wait, I got some of it off by going into reverse and trying to ‘chuck it off’.

We had booked a few nights in Leicester Marina on the recommendation of Jan Pickles Price who is a licensed canal Roving Trader selling crochet goodies as “Nancy May Crochet” from her boat Drifter, so we bade farewell to Wenna & Molly at Birstall lock, we have enjoyed their company and hope to meet up again.

Wenna & Molly

By mid-day we negotiated our way into Leicester Marina where we were welcomed and allocated a berth at the very reasonable rate of £6 per night.

Foxton to Market Harborough & Back

Friday 28th July

This morning we moved just a few hundred yards down towards Black Horse Bridge as we had arranged to meet our good friends Ted and Carol for lunch and we had arranged to rendezvous opposite the Black Horse pub.

They drove us to The Roebuck, just a 10 minute car journey, where we enjoyed a really good value lunch for £5 per head with pudding for just another £2… well it would have been rude not to!
Couldn’t fault the food or the cheerful service.

Saturday 29th July

Foxton Swingbridge

Well, today is our 45th wedding anniversary so as a treat we made an early start to reach Market Harborough by noon to make sure we got ourselves a mooring.
Our plans were nearly thwarted by the next swing-bridge, which we got through all right, but found we couldn’t remove the (BW) operating key afterwards and we had to open & close the barriers several times before it was released.

 

Hedges and vegetation out of control

It’s four years since we last came this way but the views of the Leicestershire countryside have been lost by C&RT (or their contractors) failing to control the height of the hedges, as you can see they have only been cut back to whatever height they can reach. It made for a couple of boring hours cruising and would certainly discourage me from making the trip again, which is a shame because Market Harborough  is a nice town to visit.

All Aboard!

Very nice as it happened as we had more visitors, my nephew, Richard, his wife Penny, daughter Sarah and partner Daniel not to mention my newest great-great nephew Logan came aboard and later whisked us off, this time to The Langton Inn where we had an anniversary meal.

 

Not really got the hang of this ‘selfie’ thing!

Earlier in the afternoon we went down the town for some provisions and Joy bought a new dress then caught a bus back up the hill, again the driver went out off his way to drop us back near Union Wharf where we revived ourselves with a drink at the Waterfront (more a restaurant really)

Sunday 30th July

No visitors today, but we walked down the town again where the town centre streets were closed and a Classic Car Show was taking place. Some of the cars were a bit new to be classics in my estimation (Mazda MX5s, I ask you?) but there were enough to get the nostalgia going with a collection of Fiat 500s (the first car I drove) & a HA Vauxhall Viva like the one I had my driving lessons in, a Austin A35 van (the only vehicle in which I have ever been carsick) an 1950s Austin A40 Countryman like friends of my mum owned.

Joy wasn’t so impressed with the ‘classics’ but rather liked this red VW ‘day van’ complete with bar and sound system.

Today it was my turn to buy myself something, Clarks had a sale on and I scored a pair of slip-on shoes for £20 and after lunch in the indoor market café we walked back to the boat.

Monday 31th July

This morning after visiting the local convenience store we set off at about 10:15 and retraced our way back to Foxton.

Following my comments about the high hedges I managed to snap a  glimpse of the view which we could have had.

 Wiv a ladder and some glasses,You could see the ‘Ackney Marshes If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses ‘edges in between.

As it nearly says in the old music hall song.

At Foxton swing-bridge the following boat kindly opened the bridge for us and let us through. We moored shortly after Black Horse bridge , currently Jade is exploring the hedgerow and Joy has the washing machine on.

Dawdling through Foxton

Café
Top Lock Cottage Café Foxton Locks

We spent a couple of days on the 14 day moorings but on returning to the boat after having lunch at the café in the old lock-keeper’s house at the top lock we found the top of our boat covered with flies so decided to move down to the 48 hour moorings. Catty was well pleased as there was a stream of people to show off to instead of going hunting.

Tuesday 25th July

Local Celebrities

After spending Sunday and Monday night here this morning we moved down to the water-point to fill up and wait our turn to descend the locks.
As this is a double staircase (2 sets of 5 locks) it’s only possible to pass another boat between the 2 staircases. We had to wait for 5 boats to reach the top before it was our turn.

 

Nearly at the bottom

We had to pass a brand new boat at the middle which exercised Joy’s concentration but she passed it in textbook style and we were surprised to find that had only taken us 45 minutes to complete the entire flight.

The volunteer lock-keepers were helpful without being intrusive and a little girl of 3 or 4 was keen to help with opening and closing the gates for us.

On reaching the bottom we found the moorings outside the Foxton Locks Inn were empty so we tied up there as we had arranged to meet my sister, great-niece & great-great nephew for lunch.

After a good lunch we moved the boat through the swingbridge and had a brew and a chat before walking back to the car with Courtney and Noah and bringing it down the the pub to pick up Jan. Later we moved the boat again down to a spot near Black Horse bridge.

Three generations together for lunch

Wednesday 26th July

Today we dodged the rain and caught a bus into Market Harborough and did some shopping, the driver on the return trip was really kind and dropped us off at the Black Horse which saved us the slog back up the hill to the canal.

 

 

Thursday 27th July

A few days ago  Joy looked out of the side-hatch and saw what looked a bit like a black swan taking off, it had a flat fan shaped tail so we think it may have been a cormorant.

Another drizzly day today so a chance for blogging, so here’s a few of animal piccys.

Welford and Foxton

We spent a pleasant couple of days at Yelvertoft, on Tuesday we walked down to the village to post a letter and rested our legs at the village pub, The Knightley Arms where we received a friendly welcome. The pub only does food at the weekends but they offered a couple looking for food a range of takeaway menus and said they were welcome to order and eat it in the bar, great idea and good PR.

Wednesday 19th July

This morning we reversed back to the waterpoint and disposed of our rubbish then at 10:20 we left, headed for the Welford Arm. On the way we saw a heron who was determined we shouldn’t take his photo, but eventually we caught him in flight.

We reached Welford Branch Junction at half past two and turned into the arm. It’s a curious piece of canal, tree-lined and somewhat overgrown. Just one lock and three bridges and we were moored on the 48 hour moorings. The Welford Arm, which was originally a navigable feeder, connected to the reservoirs which provided the water supply to the canal, but the wharf exists as a testament it became more than  that although all that remains is the Wharf Inn and a small marina.

Jade wasn’t impressed with the location as the access road to part of the marina runs alongside the mooring and she wasn’t allowed out. It was useful, however as we had arranged a Tesco grocery delivery for the next morning despite an intermittent phone and internet signal.

Real Ale Tasters

We patronised the Wharf Inn, which has a good selection of real ales and offers 3 x 1/3 pint tasters so you can find your favourite without over-indulging.

We had a nice meal here too, I had a mushroom & pepper stroganoff while Joy had ham egg and chips with a very generous portion of ham, some of which went back to the boat on a ‘Catty Bag’.

Thursday 20th July

Tesco Delivery Van (stock photo)

This morning I had a text saying our Tesco delivery would arrive between 9 & 10 am, I always ask the driver to phone so I can meet them, so I was surprised when he knocked on the side of the boat, he couldn’t ring us as he didn’t have a phone signal so came looking for us.

He was able to drive down the service road and deliver straight through our side-hatch. Good service mate! Saved me from sour milk in my tea and we now have our grocery cupboard full again.

We spent our second night here with heavy rain beating on the roof.

Friday 21st July

It was time to leave this morning, fortunately the rain had stopped and the sun was shining but at the first (and only) lock That Cat decided to escape and then got chased by a dog (served her right) and we had to wait until she consented to be captured. We weren’t delayed long and were soon back at the junction and headed for Foxton, 15 minutes later we were going past North Kilworth Wharf.

Another new marina is being built nearby  and some piling work was taking place opposite.

 

 

North Kilworth Marina

Another few minutes and we were going through  Husband’s Bosworth Tunnel and before one o’clock we found a 14 day mooring just short of Foxton Locks which was handy as we have a few days to spare before we want to be in Market Harborough.