Monday, 15 July 2013

Birstall to Kilby Bridge

Sunday 14th July, posted much later.

We were awoken at 6 by a boat going up the lock, so we got up to take advantage of the coolness.  We set off at 7.30, locking up to Leicester with another early starter who was moored a short way behind us last night.  The bottom gates at Birstall needed 2 people each side, too soon after breakfast for the crew!  The locks up to Leicester were extremely heavy and when we spotted a space at Castle Park we grabbed it.  We had some toast and tea, while the Cathedral bells were ringing for morning service.  Excellent method ringing, for those who are interested!  Then we walked up to the shops for some food for the evening and some Belgian Macaroons from a street stall “the best in the world”.  As we returned the sun broke through the clouds and it suddenly became scorching hot again.  This statue of Richard III was in the gardens;

RIII statue castle park gardens

We set off after lunch down the Mile Straight between West Bridge and Freeman’s Lock.  There is only room for 3 or 4 boats at Castle Park moorings – a pretty poor show we thought! There are rings on the towpath side but no-one wants to stop there for long.  Here is West Bridge seen as we left the moorings;

leaving castle park moorings

This stretch is kept tidy and clean, unlike the scruffy approach from the north, which is full of litter and rubbish in the canal. Looking back along the Mile Straight, you would think Leicester is a good place to moor …….

  on the leicester straight mile

The approach to Freeman’s Lock has been sown with a mix of wild flowers and looks very attractive.  The lock, as well as being another heavy one, also had a large chunk of tree in it – 10 or 15 feet long.  It was enough to prevent us holding Chuffed in to the edge of the lock.  Once the lock had filled, Dave got the boathook, and with the help of the crew from a cruiser coming down, and a delightful young Polish chap who had helped with the bottom gate, between the four of us we managed to haul it out.

After Freemans’s lock it got rather grotty again, and the locks kept coming, heavy and difficult.  Here is one of the dye works which used to cause dreadful pollution of the Soar;

dye works

We had hoped to stop at King’s Lock in Aylestone, but although there was plenty of space to moor, the towpath was very narrow and there was no room to put the chairs out without blocking the (busy) towpath, so on we went.  We couldn’t find a place nice enough to stop until Double Rails lock just short of Kilby Bridge.  This was a super spot, quiet countryside, shady and pretty.  We were hot and tired and thankful we had opted to cheat and buy a ready meal for tonight!

18 heavy and horrible double locks, 13 miles.  We are so looking forward to Foxton!

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