Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A foxton trip

But not by boat - we decided to drive up to Market Harborough to do a bit of shopping and slumming in the estate agent windows, with a thought to purchasing a property in the district.

It certainly is an attractive town; bustling and looking well heeled. The old Jacobean market building which has also been a grammar school was originally constructed in 1618, and now the schoolroom has been converted to a function room for nefarious purposes. St Dionysius Church is also a splendid architectural feature in the town centre. Anyway, lovely pub lunch at the Three Swans, one of John Fothergills establishments that he has written about in his book Three inns. It was also known to Robert Aikman and LTC Rolt, since the arm was one of the earliest re-opening accomplishments of the IWA.

Since we intend to take Gleemaiden into these waters early this year, we thought that it might be an idea to visit the Foxton Locks. And so we did arriving mid-afternoon.

If BW are going to charge £2.00 for a parking ticket in their pay and display, that is fine, and probably good for revenue, but when the machine refused me a ticket and still took my £2.00 coin, I left a note in the windscreen rather that waste more money - it certainly did not give the coin back again.

Another £2.50 would have admitted us to the museum/shop half way up the flight between the inclined plane and the lock reservoirs. But we continued up the path to the lock keepers cottage the top lock. Why didn't we bring our BW key - there is a box there which dispenses free information brochures to passing boaters.

Anyway there was plenty of information about the lock keeper's house and the inclined plane (or boat lift as they put it) as well as about the locks themselves - we got some pictures, but they are not as good as those in the canal books and magazines. So, I don't suppose we really needed them. I have to say that the visitor facilities, plaques and look-out points do give a spectacular aspect to this famous piece of industrial archaeology; the view of the rolling countryside is also absolutely smashing.

Can't wait to take the boat up there. Have to get everything right though, it really is a gongoozler magnet!!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Over under and through in one day

This was supposed to have been written yesterday, but by the end of it all I was so knackered I fell asleep after mooring up at Newbold. What a glorious day it was!

Forecast by the Met at Church Lawford to be sunny if a little bit chilly, we set off at 11:00 heading for Easenhall crossing bridge 38 and heading north according to OS map 222. Anyway, we missed the footpath to Easenhall and saw it on our port side as we passed on the bridleway. So a revision of the route had us passing through Harborough Magna and striking across the fields toward Cosford Hall Farm.

It was after we crossed a style making a turn to the south that we decided to stop in have a bit of a rest on the edge of a ploughed field. Very pleasant it was too, the sun was shining and birds chirruping in the hedge. But what were those chaps doing on the other side of the field? Were they farmers? Hmm. Then Audrone said:

'Here comes farmer Joe' and sure enough a quad bike was puttering toward us. When level he stopped and I said:

'Lovely day'
'Yes it is, but this is not a good place to sit and enjoy it given that this is a clay pigeon firing range.'
'Oh' said Audrone, 'I thought it was a public footpath'.
'It is, but you are sitting in the fall-out area and likely to be showered with spent pellets - but they have stopped shooting since you have been here, but would you please carry on with your walk so that the club members can carry on with their shooting?'

Of course we did! Then past the hedge to the next field was a warning sign saying that shooter would stop while walkers passed through - not knowing this, we passed ourselves off as sitting ducks.

Following the path along and veering off to the north, we walked over the Newbold Tunnel - the eastern entrance being clearly defined where the twin line of trees ends. Then finding ourselves on Rugby road, we retired to the Crown for a cider and got out the OS map for the route home.

The choice was the towpath, being the most direct and hopefully not muddy. Moored next to bridge 50 and washing his boat while taking on water was Andrew Denning with Granny Buttons who had quite a bit to say about the new BW water points - here is Andy Denning's site:

Just before entering Newbold Tunnel (and not for the last time this day), the sound of a single cylinder diesel made itself heard popping along the cut under the bridge coming up behind us. 'I'll bet that is a Bolinder' said I in know-all fashion. And as the boat Pelican entered the tunnel, this was confirmed by the steerer, who told me that it was an eleven horsepower single. I must say, it sounded very distinctive in the echoing chamber of the tunnel and indeed accompanied us all the way back to bridge 38 where we left the towpath to get back to the marina.

Very sore feet after such a long walk, but no rest, for exercise builds the appetite and we were longing to try out the new barbecue (see blogs passim). This we did very successfully in the evening sunshine, even though it was chilly enough to warrant a scarf as well as a windproof jacket. Still it was very enjoyable and the barbecue worked perfectly sitting on the stern locker.

The day was not yet finished - still plenty of sunshine so we decided on the spur of the moment to take the boat for a run up to Newbold, tying up just as the sun was setting. Just the way to end the first day of summer time.

So we went over under and through the Newbold Tunnel all in one day!