Monday, February 23, 2009

A Winter Excursion

Jeremy had a week off at the end of December and the weather forecast was reasonable, so we thought we would take a short trip.
Taking the boat out of the marina for the first time in several weeks, we turned left and headed northwest through Buckby Locks towards Norton Junction. Then right onto the Leicester Section and up the Watford Locks, a flight of 7 narrow locks, including a 'staircase' of 4, rapidly climbing the hill next to Watford Gap services on the M1. Then the canal turned under the motorway and away from it. By the time we had emerged from Crick Tunnel, we were in quiet countryside and enjoying the winter scenery.
We had arranged to meet Adam and Rachel at North Kilworth but got there a bit early. All the same, we had a reception committee waiting for us. No sooner had we stopped and moored up than the local swans spotted our open hatch and decided that we really needed to feed them! Perhaps due to the general lack of visiting boats, but we have never had swans quite THIS insistent!
We wondered whether we would be able to make it down Foxton Locks that day, but the evening was drawing in and we had to moor above them. A walk down to the pub at the bottom disappointed us, as they were not serving evening meals on Boxing Day, so we went back and ate on board instead.
A fairly early start the next morning, as we wanted to go down the locks, turn around nearby and then come straight back up! In the busy summer season, this would be frowned on by the overworked lock-keepers, but there was no problem this time! There were a few other boats around but boaters were easily outnumbered by sightseers. We always enjoy this dramatic flight of ten locks (2 'staircases' of 5) and were soon into the rhythm of working them!
We dropped Adam and Rachel off back at North Kilworth, headed on to Welford Junction and turned down the Welford Arm, just getting to the moorings and turning round before it got too dark. Welford's village shop proved very useful, especially with its very early opening hours and tasty local bread, and we set off again the next day after filling up with water.

Retracing our route back to Blisworth via Watford and Buckby Locks, we found that quite a few other boats were out on the canal – we shared locks down Buckby and even found ourselves in a 'queue' as we headed south! We decided to get right back to the marina on 30th afternoon, only just having enough light to moor up, but were glad to have done so – the next morning the canal was frozen over!