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!
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.
We travelled to Braunston yesterday and spent the night in the marina, ready for the start of our holiday. We awoke just after six and had an early morning cup of coffee before I nipped off to the shop to pick up some last minute necessary items. Returning at half past seven, we made our final preparations including having a light breakfast before untying Phoenix III from her mooring.
The wind was still blowing across the marina as it had been last night but we used it to good effect as we nosed gently out from between the pontoons and then let mother nature steer us in the direction of the locks. We chugged slowly through the marina before emerging on to the canal and again the wind helped us as we began our journey proper. There wasn’t much happening as we passed the hire fleet at the bottom lock and so we ascended the first lock on our own. It was the same at the second lock but as the water raised Phoenix III in the chamber, another boat approached from above. Leaving that lock, we caught up with a hire boat as we neared lock number three at the Admiral Nelson pub. The crew of Canal Club “The Mad Hatter” were friendly enough if a little inexperienced and we soon found ourselves in the top lock and it wasn’t even ten o’clock. As we reached the northern portal of Braunston tunnel we met two boats emerging from the darkness that we were about to plunge into. We met another two shortly before we left the other end of the tunnel where we found ourselves under blue skies and high white clouds.
We reached Norton junction and turned left on to the Leicester section of the Grand Union about half an hour after leaving Braunston tunnel. Another half an hour or so brought us to the bottom of the flight of locks at Watford and after consulting with the lock keeper there, we knew that we were in for a bit of a wait. The first part of that wait was soon over and we entered the bottom lock after the first of the oncoming boats finished their descent. We had to wait between locks for another four narrowboats to pass through before we were able to start our climb up the hill properly. Once in the staircase, the ascent was fairly quick but as we left the last lock it started to rain. The rain turned to hail and it was all driven by a very fierce wind but we ploughed on and soon reached Crick tunnel. It had actually stopped by the time we reached the mouth of the tunnel but nevertheless it was comforting to be in there and sheltered from the elements for a while. By the time we left the tunnel behind it was back to blue skies again and within a few minutes were moored near Crick marina.
After all of the usual things that need to be done after tying the boat up, we left Phoenix III and walked into Crick itself. It was 2.30 and The Red Lion was just closing as we passed by on our way to the Wheatsheaf where we had fish and chips for lunch – very nice. There is a beer and music festival on there over the bank holiday weekend and so after we had eaten we spent a short while listening to the music of the band, “Indian Joe”.
We left the Wheatsheaf and returned to the canal and then decided to move on a bit further. The Leicester summit is a pretty desolate place but our journey was not without incident, we managed to re-float Braidbar No. 62 with our bow wave as we passed after she had become grounded in the shallows and we encountered a “learner” who ended up at 45 degrees across the canal because he thought there wasn’t enough room between us and some moored boats.
An hour after leaving Crick we moored beyond bridge 20 near Yelvertoft. It was still very windy but it was a nice place to stay for the evening.