A short journey

We could have stayed in Barrow for a few more days, just soaking up the peace.

The meandering Soar at Barrow

Until the joy riders arrived on their bikes. Yes, Barrow Boating brings new meaning to travelling by water.

That looks more like hard work than fun.

There were several of these bike boats and swan shaped pedaloes, and once the frost had melted happy families joined the emerald drakes adding to the rich colours. The ducks seem to have disappeared, I can only assume they are now sitting on their nests and we’ll be rewarded with fluffy ducklings soon.

Where have all the ladies gone

But Barrow wasn’t always fun and frolicks as this poem pinned up at Barrow deep lock reminds us.

Barrow Deep lock is the deepest lock in the East Midlands region having a fall of 2.9m (9.7′) but it didn’t faze us, the deepest canal lock in this country is Tuel Lane on the Rochdale canal at 6m

The Barrow Deep lock

The rest of our day saw more wide open river sections.

The navigable Soar between Barrow and Pilling Lock

Although we didn’t plan to cruise far, just beyond Pillings Marina under Woodthorpe Bridge

Woodthorpe bridge

And onto Loughborough Moors, a journey which took us all of an hour to do of just over 2 miles. We are easing ourselves into the sort of boating we love.

More tranquility on Loughbourough Moor

Promises of spring, blown in on the North wind

So much for our cruising plans, there was no way we could get through this obstacle that had come down overnight. The north wind doth blow.

Glad we weren’t moored next to this one

We joined the others waiting patiently at Blue Banks for CRT to leap into action – which they did with great efficiency.

Mooring below Blue Banks lock

It turned out to be such a lovely mooring that we stayed for a whole week.

This is a mooring spot to mark on the map

Walking and exploring the nature reserve and country park adjacent to the canal. The old train line has been developed into a cycle/foot path right into the city centre. The river Soar meanders the meadows here so I suspect it’s land that floods regularly. Unsuitable for residential development, there is a huge retail park nearby, and for any boater needing to stock up on non essential fashions and sports gear, this really is worth marking on the map.

Everards meadows and Fosse retail park

Admittedly we didn’t feel any desire to wander around a deserted retail park, and won’t be going anywhere near it in the next few weeks when it opens up, but it was nice to be able to buy some M&S hot cross buns. I had a go at making my own simnel cake, but took my eye off the grill for a mini second and the poor apostles got slightly singed.

“Well” baked but still tasted good

And with it being a bank holiday weekend we got a merry mix of English weather, beautiful blue skies one minute and biting cold north winds with snow the next.

Is that blossom or snow

But on the whole it feels like spring has well and truely sprung.

Is that a 6 legged frog

Second Christmas

If the hobbits can have second breakfast we can have second Christmas. This time we were celebrating on board Firecrest on 25th December. Sadly it is the first time I can remember that we haven’t been able to go to church, but that wasn’t going to dampen our spirits, we knew who’s name we’d be singing a happy birthday to as we washed our hands that day.

I’d decorated the corner of the saloon with a miniature Christmas tree, that had been delivered by post complete with lights and decorations (thankyou Carole) and added the gifts we had been given last week. Everything looked perfect.

Firecrest’s Christmas corner

I won’t go into all our little traditions but as you can see we had a good time.

Goodness knows where we’ll put it all

Lunch was a prepped turkey roast intended for four, but hey we need leftovers to last the week.

Turkey roast from our favourite Suffolk butcher

But the effort was worth it.

Mmm not sure the cook is supposed to wash up as well

More presents in the afternoon, usually Eric gives me a jigsaw.

Easily pleased, he’s already drunk the whisky

but I turned tables this year and had this one printed from what we consider to be our best photo of the year. There is a confident kingfisher, who’s territory is the Market Harborough Union Wharf. And his favourite perch – no pun intended, just happened to be right opposite where we were moored. We saw him so often we became rather blasè about “our” kingfisher. Eric was able to snap away with his digital SLR most days.

What a poser

Try as we might, didn’t quite capture the moment he dived for his dinner, even though we saw it happen several times.

Preened and proud

So as we wrap up our Christmas cheer, I want to say thankyou to all our friends and family who found a way to send cards, gifts and good cheer. Thankyou, we love and appreciate you all. And to our friends and family who have not been able to celebrate this Christmas, particularly the families of Connell, Chris and Angie you are in our hearts and prayers.

Golden days

The stretch of canal between Husbands Bosworth and Foxton is a favourite of ours. I think it’s the hills on one side,

bridge 51, Laughton

and the vistas on the other.

Looking towards Lubenham

But in October it’s the golden trees glowing, that adds an extra joy to cruising in the autumn.

Somewhere around Lubenham

We love being rural, but it takes some planning to make sure we don’t run out of fresh food. There isn’t a supermarket on every street corner and sadly you can’t rely upon there being a village store anymore. But today, Google maps had revealed a potential opportunity in Husbands Bosworth. And having checked the tortuous route of the canal we reckoned I could walk the 2 miles inland and do the shopping by the time Eric had cruised the 3 miles to the next easy access.

A4304 to Husbands Bosworth

And we’d got our timing right. I arrived back on the Towpath just in time to see Eric and Firecrest emerge from the Bosworth Tunnel

North portal of husbands Bosworth tunnel

Fully stocked up again we were able to enjoy a few days quiet mooring

In the middle of nowhere

With some profitable walks, as we found several generous apple trees with enough windfalls to gather

I see Apple pie

So I made pie for tea

Pie day

And again it would be quicker to walk, 3 miles to Market Harborough or 8 via canal

Looking towards Leicestershire

Towards Market Harborough

Whist yesterday’s wander into Welford had been a joy to be out cruising in autumn,  today it was cold and harsh.
At least as we made our way through Husband Bosworths tunnel it was dry.And although it wasn’t sunny, the canal cut through an avenue of beech trees. And out into some open hilly Leicestershire countryside.  To help warm me up I got out and walked.
Until we got to our overnight mooring at the top of Foxton Locks. This has to be one of my top ten views from the canals, sadly the camera doesn’t do it justice.


We spent Remembrance day in Yelevetoft, the next village beyond Crick. It’s little more than a main street but there was a good turn out at the cenotaphWe spent a few days in the village, it has a Deli butcher who is enthusiastic about local produce. So we indulged in some good food. And I took advantage of the local footpaths to burn off some of that indulgence. I set out walking in the sunshine,but got drenched on my way back. Although that Oak tree made a good shelter.

Climbing Crack’s Hill

Crick is fortunate to have a lot of footpaths crying out to be walked, so setting out from our mooring we happily scaled the local Everest, Crack’s Hill. Ok it’s only a mere 25 m above the tow path, but it is the highest point locally and gives stunning views. That’s the DRIFT distribution centre you can see in the distance. 7.8 million sq feet of logistics.  Amongst other things, it’s where several supermarkets gather their goodies before sending them onwards to fill the shelves. That’s progress for you. Many millennia ago, Crack’s Hill arrived when the ice age deposited debris as the glacier melted, which is how this landscape became what it is. There have been Neolithic bronze and iron age settlements discoverd here and the Romans also took advantage of this hill as it overlooked their Wattling Street route march. The names Crack and Crick are derived from the Celtic word Cruk which means hill. Crick village got a mention  in the doomsday book.I don’t know if this modern adornment will still be standing next millennia but the current community marked the start of the 21st century by erecting this beacon. I would have liked to have seen it lit. There’s an active community in Crick that has raises money to create and maintain the local woodlands and public spaces. This year they have added a memorial commemorating 100 years of the end of WW1, I quite like that the area behind Tommy is rough ground.

Crick in November

I think most boaters have been to Crick at some point on their canal adventure, not always by boat, and usually over the May bank Holiday weekend when the annual Crick Boat show takes place. The Marina and surrounding fields are ideal for hosting this inland waterways festival, we spent many an hour, and a pound, meandering around show boats and accessory stalls dreaming of what life could be like afloat.However this time we emerged from the Crick tunnel and made straight for the Moorings pub for a pie and a pint. (Or in my case a rather tasty mediteranian fish stew)We had plenty of time to explore this pretty area, while we took a few days to use of the Poste Restante mail service offered by the post office. The young farmers put on their annual bonfire and fireworks display for us. I harvested some crab apples from the millennium woods and made some jelly. And we met up with our new “best friend” the fuel man Mark on Calisto. Hopefully he’ll be keeping our tanks topped up over the few months. And finally here are our neighbours for the week.




Locks Stock and Tunnel

Not quite lock, stock and barrel, but leaving Braunston meant
stockand tunnels. (This is Crick tunnel, nice and straight, if a bit drippy)

Our plan was to cruise on to the Leicester Line. A stretch of canal we haven’t done before. Usually the Braunston double locks are fairly heavy but usually busy enough to meet someone share with and to meet boaters travelling in the opposite direction so at least some of the locks as set to our favour. This time was no exception and we got through in no time. Even the Braunston tunnel didn’t cause us any problems. And we moored up in the woods on the Daventry side so I could walk down to Tescos for supplies.Back out into the open again,
under the pretty bridge by the cottage, to turn onto the Leicester Line,  enjoying the autumnal sunshine as we went. The next day we cruised at 3 miles an hour alongside the M1 going at at least 70mph, we passed the Watford Gap service station, (not worthy of a photo) a few miles before arriving at the Watford Flight. CRT is closing this flight for essential repair for 6 weeks before Christmas so we had to make our ascent before then. Unlike individual locks the Watford flight has 4 staircase locks, where each lock empties or fills from the adjacent lock, so if you dont open the paddles innthe right order you could end up flooded or stranded. Consequently there are volunteer lockies on duty to help you through. Its quite straight forward if you rememeber the rhyme

Red before white and you’ll be alright, white before red and you’ll soon be dead.
We both took our turn and enjoyed the day