Monday, 22 August 2016

Gongoozlers ahoy!

Sunday 21st August; bridge 37 to the Market Harborough arm

Our grand plan was to get to Foxton locks to have lunch in the queue, and along the way to get the paper and some supplies in Husband’s Bosworth.  And it more or less fell out as we’d hoped.  It was a quiet mooring last night, out of the wind.

1 mooring at bridge 37

We were away soon after 9, passing long stretches of lovely quiet mooring spots, with only a couple of boats all the way to the Welford Arm, where there were half a dozen all crammed together on the rings at the junction.  Why would you want to do that when such lovely quiet moorings are just round the bend?

Soon after the junction we passed a boat with a most unusual Morse control.  Not the best picture but I think you can see someone doesn’t like to waste interesting bits of stuff!

3 interesting morse control

On the other side of the Husband’s Bosworth tunnel we were expecting to see some visitor moorings but no such luck.  A timeshare boat was moored on the grotty bit of bank which seems to serve as such, so we went on a bit and tied up where some gabions (wire cages filled with stones) had been used to fix the bank.  I went up to the village alone as Dave felt he should stay with the boat on such a horrible mooring.  We’ve not been here before.  I walked up a farm track leading to the village back streets and then the main road.  The shop promised much – shiny automatic doors and wide aisles with smart shelves – but not with as wide a selection of stock as you might expect.  And no 2-pint milk of any kind and no semi-skimmed unless you wanted a 4-pinter which doesn’t fit well in our fridge.  So it’s full-cream milk for breakfast tomorrow – not so good in tea though.  But I did get the Sunday paper so we can read all about Team GB’s medal haul in the Olympics.

We cracked on again, through the pretty Laughton Hills.

4 cattle on the laughton hills

5 laughton hills

On the way to Foxton we passed this very floriferous boat.  So much more impressive than mine!

6 better than mine  7 and hanging baskets too

Even hanging baskets at the back!  We were nearly at the locks when I finally got a snap of a mile marker – they don’t seem to be at every mile – I imagine the missing ones have been lost over the years.

9 mile marker

We arrived at Foxton locks just before one, confidently expecting to have a relaxed lunch, which duly came to pass.  The last of four boats was just going down, and a projected wait of an hour and a half for us while a batch came up.  So a lazy lunch it was, followed by filling of the water tank, and a stroll down to the bottom with some rubbish, and still time for an ice-cream (Morello cherry, yum) before it was down to work.

As at Watford, there is a system of side ponds to save water, and again it is ‘red paddle before white, you’ll be all right, white before red we’ll knock you on the head.’  The lockie said there was a rude version too but went all coy and wouldn’t say what it was.  It’s less fun for the steerer going downhill as the slope of the lock walls stops you even seeing people let alone have a conversation.

11 foxton locks so many gongoozlersThe place was heaving with gongoozlers, some getting in the way but apologetic when you asked them to move, and with varying degrees of interest in what was going on.  There was certainly no shortage of willing hands of all ages to deal with the gates.  There were 3 or 4 lockies, one of whom was concerned about some of the parents and their lack of control over their children – safety issues, not bad behaviour.  At the half-way point a boat was tucked in waiting for the descending group to pass.  It made it slightly awkward to get into the first of the bottom flight, with the breeze and outflow from the right not helping.

13 slight kink between the two staircases

We had a straightforward descent though and in just over an hour were turning onto the Market Harborough arm through the swing bridge.  New waters for us now – only 5 miles but we’ve never been up here before.

15 swing bridge onto MH arm

There was plenty of mooring as far as bridge 6 then it became a bit like the Monty – all reeds and overgrown edges.  Finally on the long stretch between bridges 8 and 9 there was a good length of edge where we pulled in at the start with a long gap before a couple of boats up the far end.  Dave replaced the foot pads on the bow gunwales, one of which had vanished without trace earlier in the year, while I took Meg off for a run before tea.

It rained quite heavily during the evening.  Glad it wasn’t like that this afternoon!

11 and a half miles, 10 locks (Foxton), 2 swing bridges.

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