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Leicester arm, spring 1994

approaching Foxton
Approaching Foxton staircase

A 2-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.

Diary extracts:

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", Featherstones, excellent.
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, moor 12h30.
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 for 3.
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	-				-

©nib 2003-03-22..2023-06-02

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