Saturday, 13 September 2014

Foxton to Market Harborough and a bit of the Leicester Arm

Clearing Foxton Locks we turned sharp right into the Market Harborough Arm, having opened the little swing bridge first. As the Foxton Locks are so deep and a staircase, and there are two swing bridges on the Market Harborough Arm, this is not easy territory for single handed boating.
In fact the second swing bridge, Bridge 4, shown here, would seem impossible to use single handedly. You must moor on the left going up, walk across the bridge to the other side, insert your key in the mechanism, go off to close road barriers at both ends, return to the mechanism, release a brake and push with considerable effort so the road swings at 90 degrees. At this point solo boaters would find there was no way to get back to their boat (even assuming they'd separated their engine key from the waterways key used for the bridge mechanism).
Fortunately John and I were able to slip easily across and leave the bridge behind us.

Much of the Market Harborough Arm is in quiet tree-lined countryside with a few views through the trees. That changes from Bridge 13, notable for what seems to be a travellers' site of mobile homes and wrought iron gates. The number on the bridge is actually pockmarked with pellets, which is not promising, and an adjacent house is for sale. Here the canal edges are poorly defined until we are clearly on the outskirts of the town and bungalows with well cut hedges and lawns slope down to the water.

Soon enough there are good moorings and there is the Basin beautifully defined with an old warehouse converted to an up-market restaurant - The Waterfront restaurant here is partnered to The Old Boathouse  at Foxton Locks - some modern flats, architecturally in keeping with the site, and narrow boats moored neatly alongside pontoons. There are fuel and pump-out services. This is where the first Inland Waterways Association Festival was held, by Aickman and Rolt in 1950.
The town centre is just 15 minutes away, with a diverse range of shops and a purposeful atmosphere. Having been impressed by Symington's Corset Factory, home of the liberty bodice and now a museum, we pause for a quiet pint at The Angel and head back to Foxton to moor up by the swing bridge and have another evening meal at The Old Boathouse.
Morning Mist at Foxton Locks
Next day we venture a little up the Leicester Arm, which is the third arm at Foxton junction, as far as the winding hole near Bridge 72, and the Smeeton aqueduct, a little before Saddington Tunnel. From several sources we hear that vandalism in Leicester and immediate surrounds make mooring a dangerous pursuit, as local lads compete to throw stones and smash windows of boats. We did see some broken boat windows near Market Harborough and wondered why there were wooden shutters over some of the windows. We are assured it is safe as far as Kilby Bridge, but north of that Leicester is best passed through without delay.
Here is the view back at Foxton, seen from the end of the Leicester Arm. The Boathouse restaurant is directly ahead, the Bridge 61 café / pub is immediately to the right after the bridge and mooring places for those queuing for the locks are directly to the left and right after the bridge. You must report to the lock keeper before entering the locks so moor up immediately after the bridge where you can.

Our return to Welford pausing at Husband's Bosworth and North Kilworth is noted in the previous blog.

1 comment:

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