Monday, 9 May 2011

Leicester Ring, South Wigston to Market Harborough

Leicester Ring 2011
South Wigston to Market Harborough
19th April 2011

14 miles - 17 locks - 8 hours

We are well out in the rolling Leicestershire countryside now, steadily plodding up the hill at a rate of about two locks a mile - possibly one reason this section is less travelled than most.

Wand'ring Bark's flowers

We stopped off at BW's Kilby depot to fill up with water and used the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Dave Wright who plies a route between Warwick and Shardlow on Callisto, his 1935 GUCC star class working boat which he maintains to a very high standard. The hull is uncannily straight - not something you usually see on a working boat but Dave attributes this to the fact that it spent many years as a Port of London fire boat and the several decades as a houseboat. At the time of our meeting he had loaded up with coal and was waiting for a delivery of gas, so his layover day was being sent with a paint brush in his hand.

nb Callisto

In Narrowboat Rolt wasn't too enamoured with this stretch up to the staircases at Foxton. Nothing much has changed in the last 60 years but I find myself disagreeing with his distain. Above Kilby the canal hugs the 345 ft contour and winds on for miles through endless fields. Sure there are no villages to break it up but there is something delightfully other worldly about this prolonged commune with nature. In some ways I found the area reminiscent of the Oxford summit - less the hoards of boaters of course. In fact we only saw two moving boats all day, ABC's Spotted Eagle who we followed up the locks, and another boat we passed in the Saddington Tunnel. Such is the low profile of this section I had never heard of the Saddington in spite of it being as long as Preston Brook.

Saddington tunnel

Not that there are many marina's in this area. I cant recall a single significant concentration of boats between Pillings Lock and Debdale, which are a good two days cruising apart. Sure the locks are a bit big and stiff but if you like you boating to be remote this is the place to go.

Duck Cowl on nb Beez Neez

We saw a cloud today - but just the one mind you. This hot sunny weather is so unseasonal and make all those fleece lined trousers I packed look a bit stupid. Hot, Hot Hot.

Wistow Hall church
Foxton, by contrast, was heavy with tourists. Drinking, walking, sitting and generally having a look at this wonder of the waterways. With a bit of time in hand we paused and joined the throng with ice creams in our hands exploring the site before continuing on the five mile arm to Market Harborough. This arm winds round Gallows Hill, boxing the compass with the setting sun moving from our backs to our eyes. This reed fringed backwater was well worth the effort and we  turned in Union Wharf mooring on the visitor moorings just outside the basin.

Newborn lambkins

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