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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

2012 Cruise starts

Monday 23rd April and at 3pm we cast off and leave Debdale Wharf Marina for our cruise, but given the water situation we wonder how long we will be out. We want to go to Liverpool again as we so loved it last year but with the reduced lock working hours already in force we are worried that a notification of a closure on the Leicester Summit could see us stuck far from home. We returned from last year's cruise earlier than we had planned because we were so worried about lock restrictions, and we had wondered whether we should return via the Soar waiting at Sileby until levels from Leicester to Kibworth became navigable. Thank heavens we didn't as we would have been there still as BW say that at 2ft 7" we have too deep a draft to pass.

Our first day we got as far as Foxton, because of course lock working hours are significantly restricted, but we were set to go up the next morning. Many hire boats from Market Harborough were ready to ascend on Tuesday too and as they only had a week or two to cruise, we let them up first. Out of top lock at 11.30 we decided to stop for a coffee at top lock Coffee Stop......which extended to a bacon roll too. Then we thought we'd go to the museum to see their new display and we spent an enjoyable hour and a half looking at it and nattering to Mike, Anne and Val. Returning to Lily via the Coffee Stop to get an ice cream, it started to rain so we decided to stay put. Two days, one and a half miles and ten locks, we're working hard.
The lad walking the horse at the top of Foxton,
but sadly rust is showing through already

The view across Leicestershire from the
viewing platform above the Inclined Plane

Foxton Top Lock cottage seen over the side pond

Last year's bullrushes can look attractive

Now Wednesday was a gem of a day, but I had remembered I had forgotten to take my tax disc out of my car to get a refund, so I walked back to Debdale........and came back with the car. It was sluicing it down & forecast to do so all day, so we went into Harborough for a coffee fix & a few bits.

Before we set off on Sunday Carol replanted the flower troughs on the roof, four of these were new replacements as the originals were 8 years old and with areas of rotten wood. I hope that the new ones made using tanalised timber will last longer. Carol's floral displays always receive approving comments from people who see them but if you look at this other photo of her old garden you will see that she always had high standards.
Carol's troughs give her a bit of gardening fix
her heart races when in a garden centre

Carol's old garden, just a few flowers

Another flowery garden view

Thursday forecast was better than Wednesday so we were going to set off, but not before returning the car plus the morning essential coffee. Having eaten lunch the weather had turned but we set off getting somewhat wet but enjoying our run to just past the Welford Arm. It is a good spot to stop & I was wet and cold, having sent Carol below when it got really wet as it is pointless us both getting wet. Just under 3 hours saw us covering just over 7 miles, but I can't think why it took so long! My apologies to the moored boat who got very upset at the speed Lily was moving at when passing during a heavy squall whilst I was also fighting with the brolly, though looking at our progress I think I hardly deserved the invective yelled or the animated Churchillian gestures.

I lit the stove for a couple of hours until we were too hot and left it to the boiler, the showers carried on through the evening.

Friday and it was another wet if slightly less breezy day, but it was brightened by the sighting of 3 or 4 kingfishers in the first hour. Last year we only saw our first kingfisher as we arrived in Castlefields in Manchester on August 25th! I wore better waterproofs than yesterday and stayed dry but was glad to stop for hot soup at Yelvertoft for lunch. We continued on, initially thinking we'd stop at Crick to get a few bits we found we were short of, but decided to carry on. We got to the top of Watford Locks too late to descend but got rid of rubbish & loo contents. We then walked to Watford Gap M1 service area for... you guessed a Costa & newspapers before reversing back about half a mile to a location where we were away from the noise of the motorway and could get the satellite TV to work. The showers kept on falling intermittently. Spoke to a couple coming up Watford, she had one of the snazzy ratcheting, geared windlasses. I asked how much they cost as I had never seen a price in the adverts, I understand why the price is not shown, it would be an awful lot to throw into the canal, I shall not be getting one until after I win the Lottery!

Saturday was supposed to be the best day for weather over the weekend so we were at the top lock betimes and had a good natter with the lock keeper and his two volunteers before we were first down,crossing three boats ascending. The weather was threatening and cool, but another visit to the coffee outlet on the motorway service area warmed us before we carried on. A skipper from Braunston had been heading for Buckby, until she was told at the last minute she had to turn for Watford locks, into our path as we came out of the Leicester Line! Fortunately our bow thruster did its stuff & no damage done.

Easy run then into Braunston tunnel, meeting one boat shortly after we entered, unlike the boat that followed us who collided with it! They joined us to descend the locks into Braunston, they are shared owners of an ex-Ownerships boat & keen Leicester Tigers supporters who had started out on a 2 week cruise but needed to get somewhere for next Saturday in order to get to Welford Road for the first of the Championship playoffs. I recommended they should go up the Ashby Canal & then take a bus or train to Leicester.

At the bottom of the locks we found a mooring close to the entrance to Braunston Marina & tied up tight as the forecast for Sunday was foul.

Sunday high winds, heavy showers through till early evening. Walked to the shop to get my weekly Sunday Times fix, but sadly for Carol no C..... for coffee. Very few boats moved and just in front of us a small tree fell down across the tow path. But in the evening the sky cleared, the sun shone and apart from the quagmire of the towpath you would have thought it was lovely!

Sunday evening in Braunston, note the wet boat cabin side
So in our first week we covered the impressive distance of 27 miles and worked through 23 locks, my we worked hard!

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