Friday 20th July; Yelvertoft bridge 21 to Welford
Apart from the occasional distant bellow from a cow the night was quiet. As we finished breakfast we were lucky to catch a glimpse of a hare in the field opposite; she sat up straight in front of the far hedge before lolloping casually across the field and disappearing.
We set off at about 9.30 in hot sunshine through beautiful undulating countryside with patches of cool woodland and shade.
A mere photo can’t express the utter peace of the morning and the gentle caress of warm air on bare skin, or the coolness under the trees. Neither can it capture the perfume of the meadowsweet wafting through the warm air.
There is some sort of camp across the fields, with a group of tents around a marquee. (I thought I'd give you the poetic bit before the prosaic).
We only saw 3 or 4 boats all morning. We moored in the shade at bridge 37 and set off for the reservoir and nature reserve shown on the map. As we walked, Dave got the feeling he had been here before ….. he had, probably with our old dog. And the parking area shown in Nicholson’s was still gated off with a large ‘Private’ sign. Disgruntled, we returned to the boat, entirely forgetting to take a photo of the water mocking us through the trees. Our Nicholson’s is now updated.
After lunch, as we were still in the shade, Dave prepped the port gunwale and applied a coat of red-ox paint. After a pleasant chat with the chap on the boat moored nearby we set off again later in the afternoon to Welford Junction. The junction creeps up on you – it is quite a surprise if you are not expecting it – but it is a very wide turn into the Welford Arm.
The signpost says it is still 7½ miles to Foxton. Yesterday in Crick I met a share boat crew ‘doing’ the Leicester Ring in 2 weeks. They had just come the 15 miles from the top of the locks without a break, were stopping at Crick for a beer, then cracking on to get down the Watford locks during the afternoon. Rather them than me, though I do remember those days (quite fondly too).
The Welford Arm winds peacefully through the trees with abundant wild flowers.
There is only one lock, with a rise of just 3’6”.
We didn’t need to go up to the facilities at the very end of the arm, so we turned in the winding hole by the little marina and tied up on the end of the 14-day moorings. It’s shady, and as it was clouding over was rather dark too, but quiet; the towpath stops at the marina entrance so no-one passes except by water.
We walked up to the village for some supplies. The towpath runs around the little marina which is home to some very large fish, though we didn’t see any today.
We walked through the Pocket Park to the shop. Last time we were here we thought the shop was on its last legs – and it still looks like that from the outside – but inside it seems to have been spruced up and has a good range of items.
On the way back I snapped Postman Pat (and Jess), carved from a tree stump some years ago. They are now looking rather the worse for wear. Poor Pat’s head is rotting, and Jess has a band round his tummy to the back of the original stump, so they don’t fall over.
The Pocket Park is a strip of land fenced off from the busy road with trees and shrubs planted, and some flowers too, with paths, seats and a little pond. It provides a pleasant way to avoid walking down the busy road and comes out at the Wharf Inn.
We thought it would be rude not to stop for a beer. We sat in the garden with an excellent pint of Fox’s Paw till it started to rain, then we moved under an enormous umbrella. The rain stopped as we left, and though it was half-heartedly trying to soak us as we walked back it didn’t really succeed. There was just enough of it to make us close the cratch up but we left the side hatch open as it was still so hot, with a towel to protect the interior woodwork. The land needs the rain, but this really wasn’t more than a spit in the dust.
8½ miles 1 lock 1 junction