Friday 12th July, posted later ….
A later start today at 9.30, as the clouds parted and the sun came out. Once we had left the canalised section the Soar became very wide and meandering for a while. Barrow Deep Lock was not particularly deep at at 9’7”, and the wooden boards round the approach to the lock were being repaired so only one top gate could be used.
We were on our own, but a widebeam was just coming round the bend …. this is its back view of course.
As the river became narrow with tight bends on the approach to Mountsorrel, we came across a narrowboat being towed off one of the tightest bends where they had run aground. We were being hotly pursued by a widebeam which caught up as we were going up Mountsorrel Lock. It belonged to one of the Charitable Trusts in the area which take disadvantaged groups or families caring for a disabled family member for days out. The delightful crew closed up for us as we left. We moored a little later just below Sileby lock which was very quiet apart from the weir – this was taken from the bridge over the weir.
As Debby went to set the lock after lunch she was surprised to see this exotic sunbathing in the water;
it’s a red-eared terrapin. These became popular years ago because of the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many were released when their owners had enough of them. They are not considered a Good Thing by environmental organisations. This one would have comfortably filled a dinner-plate.
There were some brilliant carvings on a private mooring above the lock;
We were recommended the Hope and Anchor bridge moorings for an overnight stop – yuk! The moorings near the pub were noisy from the main road and the happy drinkers, and on the other side of the bridge the coping stones were collapsing into the water, with nettles shooting up where the earth was exposed. The only acceptable area was taken up by CRT barges full of dredgings. So we went on a few hundred yards to discover a long stretch of lovely quiet mooring by the King Lear lake of Watermead Park. A grass snake was swimming across the canal as we moored and the willows were releasing their fluffy seeds.
Dave decided to wash the roof of the accumulated aphid honeydew and other bits from the trees we have been mooring beneath – then we both felt in need of exercise so Dave cycled off towards Leicester and Deb went for a run round the lake. There are various sculptures around the lake, for example a scale model of the dinosaur skeleton which was discovered during gravel extraction, and this sculpture of King Lear mourning the death of Cordelia (shame about the gull on the lord’s head);
Lear was apparently a real king in this area in the distant past and is reputed to be buried in a cavern under the Soar. This is just one of several flooded gravel pits which have been transformed into a fantastic park with cycle tracks and picnic areas stretching right down to Leicester.