After spending our third night in and around the vicinity of Foxton locks, it was time to start heading back across the Leicester summit. It was still windy when we awoke but the sun was out and the sky was bright blue so we got up and made an early start by pulling the boat back around on to the water point so that we could top the tank up. In the few minutes that had passed since we climbed out of bed the sky had turned dark grey and the odd spot of rain had started to fall. I made a quick trip down to the CRT facilities and had a final farewell chat with the ever friendly lock keeper before returning to the boat where Sue had sorted out the water and was cooking us up a super breakfast.
Despite all of our activities it was still only a few minutes after nine when we pulled away from the bank and into the drizzly morning. The first boat for the locks arrived as we left and we didn’t meet any more until we passed one an hour and a half later in Husband’s Bosworth tunnel of all places! The rain gradually faded but the dull skies and fierce winds persisted but with so few boats around we made good progress and had no difficulties in steering at all.
It is well reported that this stretch of the Leicester summit is quite desolate but on a sunny summer’s day it is a pleasure to cruise along it. This was not a sunny summer’s day however and the cruise became a bit of a chore so we were quite glad to tie up near Yelvertoft at half past one.
In the time it took to secure the boat, the weather changed as quickly as it had in the morning and we were suddenly presented with blue skies again. After a shower and a change of clothes we were ready to walk down to Yelvertoft village roughly half a mile away. Still as windy but warmed by the sun, the day had suddenly become very pleasant for us as we explored the main street of this picturesque little village. I did my usual research at the local pub, The Knightley Arms and Sue got her fix with a walk round the local graveyard, so with a short stop at the village shop in between, our village tour was complete.
We were back on board Phoenix III by half past four and with the sun now warming the boat and the wind still blowing a gale, we settled down and found ourselves drifting into a sort of boater’s siesta!
We enjoyed a peaceful night tied up outside the Foxton Locks Inn and awoke to blue skies just after six o’clock this morning. We had a light breakfast before going to find the lock keeper so that we could register our position in the queue. As it turned out there were no boats waiting to come down and we were to be third in line to ascend the staircase. The first boat entered the flight just after eight o’clock and within twenty minutes we were closing the gates behind us in the bottom lock. The wind increased in speed as we took the ‘stairs’ one at a time but it presented no difficulties to us and we left the top lock just an hour after entering the bottom chamber. We didn’t go much further, we had never intended to but the high winds only convinced us that mooring here was the right thing to do.
After lazing around for a couple of hours we wandered down to the pub at the bottom of the hill, hoping to see some fun and games as descending boats leaving the locks fought against the wind as they turned towards Market Harborough. The first boat didn’t disappoint us as it drifted sideward towards Leicester before managing to get itself under control before it completely blocked the canal. After that there was nothing to see with each of the following boats managing to negotiate the turn without incident. It’s a known fact in boating that you will only make a mess of a manoeuvre when there is an audience, clearly the lack of gongoozlers had ensured a safe passage for all concerned today.
Nevertheless we whiled away another hour or so at the pub before walking back to Phoenix III where we ate dinner, lit the fire and settled down for the rest of the day. The wind soon brought squally showers but it was too cosy inside for us to be concerned about the elements.
After a full day tied up just outside the basin at Market Harborough we turned around, did our chores and headed back towards Foxton. We tied up near the bottom lock at around seven o’clock for the night and after a shower each we settled down for the evening. We reflected on our time in Market Harborough where we had shopped and eaten as well as strolled through the streets with the occasional stop for a libation or two. Our final few hours saw us having an impromptu lunch at Pizza Express, Sue’s birthday treat for me and very nice it was too!
After lunch we made a final trip to Sainsbury’s where we picked up some essentials before walking back to the Union Wharf. And that was it, our holiday to Market Harborough had reached its zenith and now we would be heading back to Braunston even though we were in no hurry to get there.
We awoke to blue skies just after six o’clock and after a cup of coffee and some discussion about the day’s cruising plan got up, dressed and ready to go. We decided to take the less complex way of getting to Market Harborough and instead of reversing to the bottom lock, untied and made our way to Debdale wharf and turned there. Of course this added about forty minutes to our journey but we didn’t care and anyway it helped to heat the water up for our daily showers. We passed the odd boat leaving the arm but with the exception of operating the two swing bridges at Foxton, the journey was peaceful and uneventful. The route is about twice as long by water as it is in a straight line but on a sunny day it was a pleasure to cruise this way, even the rendering plant didn’t seem to be operating so we had a smell free trip into the basin.
We didn’t actually reach the basin because the hire fleet that resides there was having a changeover day so we backed up and tied on the visitor moorings just outside it. After emptying the toilet we got changed and made our way into Market Harborough where we met up with Amy and Louise and had some lunch in the local Weatherspoons, The Sugar Loaf. After spending a few hours laughing and generally enjoying the craic, we parted company and did some shopping before making our way back up the hill to the Union Wharf where Phoenix III was moored. We stopped along the way to enjoy a coffee and some carrot cake at a small bistro tucked away from the main street before completing our journey.
Arriving back at our mooring we sat on the back deck and shared a bottle of cold white wine, the perfect accompaniment to a hot sunny afternoon. As the sun moved around we moved our chairs until eventually we were grabbing the last few rays on the towpath near the front of the boat.
And that was it, the last rays of direct sunlight gone, we retreated inside and lit the fire to keep the chill off for the evening. A quick check of the forecast tells us that tomorrow will be similar to today and that the day of our departure, Wednesday will be cloudy but dry – perfect for the start of our journey back to Braunston.
After a peaceful night just outside Yelvertoft we awoke around eight o’clock and had a cup of coffee. We did all of the usual morning checks before setting off just after half past nine and made our way across the Leicester summit. As usual there was little to see except the countryside as it rolled from northamptonshire into leicestershire but we did meet quite a number of boats and encountered many that were tied up.
A hire boat from Gayton shot out from the Welford arm and harassed nb Woodsey for a few miles before overtaking it just before the tunnel at Husbands Bosworth. We followed Woodsey into the tunnel and met two boats at the far end before emerging into blue skies and sunshine.
The final leg of our journey from Husbands Bosworth to Foxton was lovely in the warm sunshine and we were soon tied up waiting to take our place in the queue to descend the locks. We took on water and waited for an hour until two boats already in the flight emerged from the top lock. I drove and Sue locked assisted by a young girl, Sophie and so we made our way to the bottom in what seemed like no time at all. We tied up just under the bridge on the main line to Leicester with the intention of reversing to the junction and turning into the Market Harborough arm in the morning.
After we secured the boat, we walked up to the Foxton Locks pub and had our evening meal before returning to Phoenix III where we picked up our bin bag, walked to the designated area and dumped our rubbish. Along the way we called into the other pub at the locks, Bridge 61 and had a drink as we listened to the live music that was on. It was nine o’clock by the time we made it back to our berth on Phoenix III where we turned in for the night, ready for our trip into Market Harborough in the morning.