Friday 26th August; Watermead to Loughborough outskirts
Off we went in bright sunshine at about 9.30. We were soon past the Hope and Anchor, where the moorings seem so very noisy because of the road, and past the point where the river Wreake joins the navigation, just past the Old Junction boatyard.
Once the Wreake confluence was the junction with the Melton Mowbray Navigation, long gone. There were few other boats on the move this morning. We met one just coming out of Cossington Lock. There is a little path through the hedge going down to the weir and its pool, very pretty.
The Soar is very attractive round here. Although we came in the other direction a few years ago we found we hardly remembered a lot of it. It’s nothing like the Thames where we were only a couple of months ago – far more in the way of water meadows, for example.
All quiet at Sileby lock. We stopped here for a while last time and saw a large terrapin sunning itself below the lock. It was very hot this morning - in a variation on cows cooling off in the water, we found a field full of mares and foals.
We didn’t remember Barrow-on-Soar at all. Lots of properties of various kinds making different uses of their river frontage. We were amused by this! the dark shapes in the crenellated wall appear to be cannons!
We pulled in just before the little basin at Barrow-on-Soar to have some lunch. The water was busy with people hiring the various water-craft available from Barrow Boats. These looked fun!
Barrow Deep lock is indeed deep, and the gates are heavy, but there were willing helpers and a boat coming up. We carried on and moored on the outskirts of Loughborough, shortly before the Peter le Marchant Charitable Trust base between bridges 34 and 35. They have two trip boats and a hire boat specially adapted for disabled passengers. It was still before 3 when we stopped, so we left Meg with a Bonio (which she knows means she will be on her own for a while) and went off to walk into town. We thought we would be able to cut through from bridge 35, but found the railway blocked the route, so it was a bit of a trek in the end. We passed Taylor’s Bell Foundry, but the museum is closed for two months in the summer and even the office was shut so no chance of a tour of the works. We finally found our way to the town centre, where we failed to realise we could have visited the Carillon in the park. (Maybe next time). Though we did spot this statue. We couldn’t think why he is pointing his toe in that assertive way until we looked at this website, which says
“The Sock is a statue in the town centre of Loughborough in Leicestershire. It can be found in the Market Place of this thriving market town, outside the Town Hall. The Sock was created by the sculptress Shona Kinloch, having been commissioned by Charnwood Borough Council "to provide an attractive feature and focus of public interest". It was unveiled in 1998. The statue is of a man seated on a bollard, wearing only a sycamore leaf and a sock, which he is looking down at admiringly. His sock is symbolic of Loughborough's hosiery industry, and the rest of the sculpture contains images from the town's history. As is not unusual in these cases, The Sock was far from universally admired when unveiled but, as predicted, hearts have warmed to it and it is now a well loved feature of the Loughborough scene. Images significant to the town, such as a bell, are engraved around the base.”
I have to confess we didn’t spot the sock. (The tent behind it is part of a display from an outdoor shop).
Instead we found ourselves disappointed with the shops (on the whole we are not keen on the retail experience as a leisure activity) but M&S were doing their £10 dine in offer so, loaded down with steak, profiteroles and basically free wine we picked up the canal at the basin and walked back the long way round.
We do like profiteroles.
And wine. Well I do anyway.
9 miles, 6 locks including Pilling’s Flood Lock