Leicester arm, spring 1994
Approaching Foxton staircase
A 1-week trip from the Wyvern Shipping Company at Linslade to Blaby via
the Grand Union Canal and the Grand Union Leicester Arm, including the
branches to Market Harborough and Welford. Total 168 miles and 112 locks.
- Sat 1994-04-23
- Start of canal trip. To the Globe for lunch, then to boatyard. The
remaining crew member will join us later if her job situation gets sorted
out. Boat is "Sovereign", about 63ft, 3-cyl Lister. 240V TV (but 5A 12V
alongside for RF pre-amp, fortunately). Start 15h15, moor beyond Three Locks
at 17h. Eve briefly to the pub, which was packed for a jazz festival, then
on the boat. 3.25mi and 4 locks.
- Sun 1994-04-24
- Sunshine nearly all day but windy. Start 08h, lunch 11h40..13h15 at
Giffard Park, inc water. End at br 57 at 16h20. 19.25mi and 3 locks. Eve
walk to White Hart in Grafton Regis. Good "Old Speckled Hen" (they had
Directors as well) but almost deserted. Barmaid talking to a customer about
horsey things all eve, but reasonably pleasant nevertheless.
- Mon 1994-04-25
- Sunshine and cold to start with, later overcast but mild. Strong wind.
Start 08h05, water for 10 mins below Stoke Bruerne flight, and pause for
10h00..10h55 at the top of the flight. Shopping, coffee. Managed to get
through the lock before the first gongoozlers arrived. Then through the
tunnel, passing one boat, stopping for lunch 12h15..15h05 on boat at br 47.
Short run aft to Weedon, by aqueduct before br 24 at 15h25. Afternoon mostly
plodding behind 3 70-footers with lots of children on board and 'Pearl' from
our boatyard, all of which seemed liable to run aground at any bend or
bridge. We finally lost 'Pearl' when they stopped dead in front of us, in a
bridgehole, waiting for a water point. 13.5mi, 7l, 5.4h.
- Tue 1994-04-26
- Sunny all day and hot in the afternoon. Slight breeze. Start 08h10, after
buying papers, stopping 11h10 at the New Inn at Norton Junction. Up Buckby
locks with 'Pearl' - who turned round at the top. Water here during lunch.
Away again 13h00, stopping at Yelvertoft, br19, at 16h15. Today 11.75mi,
14l, 6.25h. The new pub that appeared alongside Buckby flight last time
("The Locks") has disappeared - the building's now a carpet warehouse.
Noticed that 'Pearl' soon copied our trick of handing up the rope with the
boat-hook for those who cannot throw. Eve to "Knightly Arms", Bass and 6X,
in the village. Plan now is to drop my parents-in-law at Buckby flight on
the way back, 2km or so from Long Buckby station, on Tue next week, and the
2 (or 3) of us to work the boat back from there.
- Wed 1994-04-27
- Morning taken non-stop as nowhere to moor in winding, shallow, overgrown
section to Foxton. Even where a village could be reached, there seemed no
suitable moorings. Hot and sunny again later, lots of gongoozlers at Foxton.
In 3 hours between our arrival and the flight's closing we saw ourselves
going down and nothing else. One had just come up as we arrived. Visited
inclined-plane museum, now housed in re-constructed engine house. Stores
purchased. Water at top of Foxton during lunch. Start 08h00, moor at top
of Foxton at 13h15. Down the flight and moor at bottom, about 14h10..15h05.
Decide to stay here the night. Today 16mi, 10l, 6.17h. Eve to "Bridge 61",
- Thu 1994-04-28
- Mostly sunny and hot again. Down the Leicester section, saw no other
moving boat all day. Some sections low, others overflowing; BW man suspects
someone tampering but we saw no locks not closed properly. Hard work, so
we've decided not to go right into the city, but turn back to Foxton tomorrow.
Into Blaby for papers, later again for fish and chips. The job situation is
sorted, the absent crew member is able to take her holiday and is planning
to join us tomorrow eve or Sat morn. Start 08h, stopping for lunch at
'Navigation' Kilby br (87) at 13h05. Water here, the re-start at 14h05,
mooring at br 98 at 16h15. Today 12.5mi, 17l, 7.25h.
- Fri 1994-04-29
- Hot and sunny all day, warm evening sitting outside. Shopping in Blaby,
inc major re-stock at Waitrose, then turn in abandoned boatyard just beyond
br 98 and head back. Hard work in the sun, including one 2.5km walk from lock
29 to lock 23. My mother-in-law surprised to find that a girl walking along
the towpath in heavy boots, shorts, tiny top, tattoos, and waist-length
dreadlocks, was actually "nice", her prejudices shattered. Full crew member
arrived at the evening mooring at Foxton, given a lift by her sister. Start
09h30, stop for water 11h35..11h45 at Kilby bridge (87). Lunch stop in the
country between brs 80 and 79 13h35..14h35. Moor before br 62 at Foxton at
17h40. Today 12.75mi, 17l, 7.0h. After a morning of seeing no boats moving,
pass 3 in the afternoon.
- Sat 1994-04-30
- Again hot and sunny all day. Water at Foxton before departure, then to
Market Harborough. Shopping here (inc second-hand bookshop) and enquiries
about trains for Tuesday. Lunch on the boat. Boatyard here now closed, or
at least the hire-boat base has gone. Turned in basin. One swing-bridge,
hand swung but power for jacks and operated by BWB key. Up Foxton locks
after return, sneaking in when we shouldn't and having to wait at the
central passing basin. Moor at the top of the flight. Start 08h15 (after
water), moor 10h20..13h35, moor for eve 17h05. Today 11.5mi, 10l, 2 swing
br. Changed to second gas bottle. Eve to 'Bridge 61'.
- Sun 1994-05-01
- Yet again hot and sunny. Roped back for water at Foxton, then on. Stop
at North Kilworth Narrow Boats (br 45) for 2 pump outs (17GBP), then onto
the Welford Arm, turn before the basin and moor. Wharf Inn, nearest, would
do full lunch only, Swan, no food, the furthest, the Shoulder of Mutton,
finally came up with the bar food we wanted. Spent the afternoon on the same
spot, watching lots of other boats coming and going on this quiet(-looking)
arm. Today 9mi 1 lock, 3.42h. Start 08h35 (after water), pump out 30 mins,
- Mon 1994-05-02
- Bank holiday. End of phase 2 of the canal trip, with 5 crew and 2 dogs.
Sunny all day. Away early, but still waiting turns at the shallow lock on
the Welford Arm. Less traffic at first going S on the main arm, but later
building up. Aground three times on this narrow, shallow section, through
cutting corners and giving too much ground to approaching boats. Lunch on the
boat, at Yelvertoft, after a quick visit to the shop. Watford flight busy,
and had been all day, according to the keeper and his girlfriend. Passed
boats at every possible place on the flight. Water below the flight, before
mooring just before the junction. Eve to the New Inn. Departing crew packing,
ready for tomorrow. Today 16.25mi, 8l, 7.33h. Start 08h15, br19 12h10..13h20;
water 15h55..16h05, moor before br 1 16h55.
- Tue 1994-05-03
- Hot again but a fairly strong wind. Dawdled round the corner for water,
father-in-law off on foot to Long Buckby station, thence to Leighton Buzzard
for the car. The rest of us down the flight and ambling to br 21 to await the
car. Then kit unloaded, they departed, and the three of us left had lunch
before carrying on to Blisworth, between brs 50 and 51. Went aground at br
50 waiting for another boat to come through - they gave us a tow off - very
effective. Rest of afternoon shopping, reading, dog walking. Start 08h15
(after water), moor br 21 10h05..12h30, moor br 51 at 15h40. Today 12.5mi,
7l, 5h. This afternoon, was 9.5mi in 3.17h = 3mi/h average. Eve to Royal Oak,
Blisworth. Directors. Now seems to be a real pub - wasn't it a Chef and
Brewer or some other silly chain last time.
- Wed 1994-05-04
- Straight into the tunnel, passing 2 boats in it this time. Moored for a
while just beyond, for shopping at the museum shop, then water - stacked 3
deep with 2 other Wyvern boats. Then down the flight with a party in a short
day-boat from Blisworth Tunnel Boats. Stopped for lunch on the boat between
brs 57 and 58, finally mooring at the Navigation, br 64. Rained a little in
the flight, hailed hard while I was steering in the afternoon; sunshine,
mostly, in the intervals. Many fewer boats about now that the weather has
changed and the bank holiday is over. We're pottering back, so there's plenty
of time for reading. Today 8.5mi, 7 locks, 4.08h. Eve to 'Navigation' to
eat - which was good. Malt to finish the evening. Pub quite well filled for
a mid-week on a grotty day.
- Thu 1994-05-05
- Steady rain all day. Later start, water at Cosgrove, Giffard Park for
lunch, and end by the back of the 'Plough' in Simpson. Featureless day
canalwise, just one steering and the other 2 reading. Today 11.5mi, 1l,
3.67h. Start 09h20, water 10 min, lunch 11h40..13h35, moor (brs 91..92)
15h10. Eve, briefly, to the Plough.
- Fri 1994-05-06
- Starting mild and ending hot. Lunch pizzas at the Three Locks, turn at
Leighton Buzzard wharf, and back onto mooring on the 'wrong' side of the
bridge. Managing OK on our first ascent of proper locks with only 3 of us
- mostly 2 on boat and 1 ashore. Start 08h50, lunch above flight
11h20..14h00, moor 15h25. No water stop. Clean up boat as usual in the
afternoon. Today 9mi, 6l, 3.92h. Eve to Dragon Inn Chinese in LB, for feast
- Sat 1994-05-07
- Chug back to the boatyard 08h15..08h30.
Day Date Hours Miles Locks Sw. Br. Water
Sat 940423 1.7 3.25 4 -
Sun 940424 6.7 19.25 3 - Giffard Park
Mon 940425 5.4 13.5 7 - (bott) Stoke flight
Tue 940426 6.2 11.75 14 - Norton Junction
Wed 940427 6.2 16 10 - (top) Foxton
Thu 940428 7.2 12.5 17 - Kilby Bridge
Fri 940429 7.0 12.75 17 - Kilby Bridge
Sat 940430 5.4 11.5 10 2 (bott) Foxton
Sun 940501 3.4 9 1 - (top) Foxton
Mon 940502 7.3 16.25 8 - (bott) Watford
Tue 940503 5.0 12.5 7 - Norton Junction
Wed 940504 4.1 8.5 7 - Stoke Bruerne
Thu 940505 3.7 11.5 1 - Cosgrove
Fri 940506 3.9 9 6 - -
Sat 940507 0.2 0.5 - - -
Totals 73.4 168 112 2
Day Lunch Evening
Sat - Soulbury 'Three Locks'
Sun MK 'Giffard Park' Grafton Regis 'White Hart'
Mon br 47 (on boat) Weedon (on boat)
Tue Norton Junc 'New Inn' Yelvertoft 'Knightly Arms'
Wed top of Foxton (on boat) Foxton 'Bridge 61'
Thu Kilby Bridge 'Navigation' Blaby (fish & chips, on boat)
Fri br 80 (on boat) Foxton (on boat)
Sat Market Harborough (on boat) Foxton 'Bridge 61'
Sun Welford 'Shoulder of Mutton' Welford (on boat)
Mon Yelvertoft (on boat) Norton Junction 'New Inn'
Tue br 21 (on boat) Blisworth 'Royal Oak'
Wed br 57 (on boat) Castlethorpe 'Navigation'
Thu MK 'Giffard Park' Simpson 'Plough'
Fri Soulbury 'Three Locks' Leighton Buzzard 'Dragon Inn'
Sat - -