From Canal to River

Shortly after leaving a very pretty mooring at Kings Lock the Grand Union Leicester Line, merges with the River Soar.

The River Soar merging into the canal

It wasn’t dramatic, no melee of boats rushing into an orderly single file, but subtle differences like having a natural rather than manmade bank. And now we have to be alert to flood warnings.


Getting to the outskirts of the city, the navigation is managed to maintain depth although with this amount of graffiti, we’re always uncertain what else might be lurking under the surface waiting to snare the prop. We came across the CRT crew, who had just pulled a safe out of the channel. That would certainly caused us problems

Donella Too

We were lucky enough to be joined by Donella Too to do our final few locks into the city.

Moored opposite the Leicester City football ground

And couldn’t miss the opportunity to add another football ground to our list of venues visited.

city ground weir and lock

Although there was a significant barrier stopping us getting too close.

Lambs leaves locks and litter

Wandering up the Leicester Line has been quite rural so far. Every day I get to hear the little lambs bleating, but they must all be camera shy because I’ve hardly had a chance to snap any of them. But we’ve had plenty of other things to watch out for on our journey north.
The canal has a fair amount of debris in it. So far it’s been lots of vegetation and branches, hardly surprising considering the strong winds a fortnight ago. But the amount of plastic and domestic rubbish is on the increase. We try where possible to pick up litter and dispose of it in a bin, so we were somewhat nonplussed when we came across about 15 big black bin liners that had obviously been fly tipped off a bridge, they’d be sure to cause a problem to someone’s prop so we dutifully attempted to hook them out as we cruised past.
Anyone who’s tried to lift something out of a canal knows that the laws of physics doesn’t make it easy. I got the first heavy waterlogged bag onto the bank, but the second split and revealed what looked like garden waste. “Thank goodness it’s not body parts” I thought glibly, only to realise that the weed I’d revealed had seven leaves, hmmm a quick Google search confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed cannabis.

The seven fingers

Now believe it or not, we try to be good law abiding citizens, our primary thought was how much could we make out of this haul, then we went back to our more immediate concern that all those bags would be a hazard to other boaters. It being Sunday meant that CRT was only available for emergencies, and I’m not sure where the division for emergency and non emergency lies, so whilst I dithered, I thought I’d let the police know, again, I knew this wasn’t a 999 emergency so I dialled 101. It was an automated answering service which suggested I pressed “hash” for other options, goodness knows what the operator thought cause I’d definitely got the giggles by then. 101 weren’t interested, the council deal with fly tipping. We’d decided not to hang around but saw some CRT guys who said they’d go the next day to remove them.

Mooring below Kings Lock

We were happy to leave our bags behind although we were still on a high having finally got cruising again this week. Fresh air and warm sunshine is enough of a fix for me. But oh boy, am I tired. We are now into double lock territory, and we haven’t had to do a double since the Braunston flight in October. My muscles are stiff and achey. There’s still hardly any boats moving and not only has every lock been set against us, the bottom gates are blowing open of their own accord and wouldn’t stay shut until there was water flow. It really is time I took the helm more. But that’s a challenge for another day.

We’re on our way

Having trundled up and down the A14 far too many times over the past 3 months, I met Eric at Welford so we could relocate the superfluous lengths of copper pipe, redundant DIY tools and pieces of planed oak, and I could return my essentials, the spare knitting needles, spinning wheel and bags of wool.

It was such glorious evening I didn’t want to leave Firecrest, but I needed to return the car to Heather. The next day Eric moved the boat up to Foxton and I returned on the train to Market Harborough. Our good friend Jo collected me from the station and we all went to say our farewells at Bridge 61, the boaters pub.

Soup at pub Bridge 61.
Soup at Bridge 61

We love the community of local folk and boaters, at bridge 61. They welcomed us warmly and we will make a point of returning next time we’re here. We think, that besides me and Jo, they make the best and most interesting soup. Tangy Carrot, and Mushroom and Stilton, to name two.

Approaching Foxton locks

We said our goodbyes to Jo and settled down for a good night’s rest before our journey north began. The Foxton flight is always manned, and as we were first boat of the day, the two volunteers were more than happy to do the majority of the work. Lovely guys and we appreciate your help. We did the flight, all 10 locks in 45 minutes.

Picked up fuel from Debdale marina and set off singing. We were just coming up to Saddington tunnel when we were flagged down because a widebeam was coming through. It was an emergency transit and they had CRTs permission provided they checked the way was clear before they came through. Sod’s law that we were the only boat moving that day. Not to worry though, we called it a lunch break.

Looking down onto the canal from saddlington tunnel
Looking down from Saddington Tunnel

Once we got underway again, I took the opportunity to walk over the top of the tunnel rather cruise through in the dark.

NB Firecrest cruising on Leicester Line Grand Union canal
Coming in to moor

After working through a few heavy double locks, we came to moor up for the night, very happy that we were finally on our way. Its a good feeling to be on the move, enjoying the fresh air, and each others company.

We are heading north, with the intention of enjoying the Leeds and Liverpool canal over the summer, with one or two diversions along the way to visit family in the Chesterfield and Sheffield areas.

I think we’re back

We’re sorry for such a long unexplained absence, we’ve had a few problems. Back in December we had some uninvited guests, unless that is, you wanted to purchase Chinese furniture. We’d been hacked and taken over. Eric spent a lot of time and effort sorting it all out, cleaning up, making it safe and significantly reducing the possibility of it happening again. Now whether as a result of all the work Eric did, or pure coincidence of timing, wordpress has also been doing some work, and consequently I have been unable to save any of the posts I have written, which has meant nothing’s been published for several months. Its been a frustrating and miserable time. I love writing and I’m always touched when people tell me they enjoy reading about our adventures.

Kingfisher near Market Harborough

On the plus side of things, at least we lost the blog over winter when our coddiwompling was seriously curtailed. Apart from winter being the best time to see kingfishers, in reality you have missed very little.

Looking across Crick Marina

We had planned to take 2 months in a marina so that Eric could do some DIY on Firecrest. We chose to use Crick Marina because of its closeness to the A14, the most direct route back to the bricks and mortar. The work took a little longer than expected thanks to us both succumbing to the flu for 3 weeks in January. I won’t go into detail, but Firecrest wasn’t built with maintenance in mind and it’s been a hard slog reaching fuel lines and water ingress points in cramped inaccessible places. And our visitors will be relieved to hear that the back steps now have equal height rises so they dont their dignity is maintained as they tumble into the boat. As will always be the case there is still plenty more to be done but we were all going stir crazy not cruising.

Early morning at Yelevetoft

We moved Firecrest out of Crick Marina at the end of February, sat out Storm Gareth at Yelvetoft Wharf and finally on March 22nd I travelled back to the boat by train and promised Heather I wouldn’t be imposing on her Suffolk hospitality until…. until the next time.

We have now set off on our cruising adventure for this year and hopefully over the next week I shall get back into the swing of sharing some of the joys we experience on a more regular basis.