After having spent some time on the Grand Union Canal, John, Ali’s Dream and I are back on the top half of our canal map!
When we reached Norton Junction, we might have turned left and gone to Braunston, Napton and the Hatton locks on the Grand Union, where we were a month or so ago. Instead, we turned onto the Leicester length of the Grand Union. There it magically turned back into a narrow canal until we reached Foxton Locks.
Flowers and cattle! A cloudy but warm morning on the Grand Union
Almost immediately, we were out into beautiful unspoiled Leicestershire countryside, with often not a building in sight. Huge fields of very dry arable land. We noticed cracks in the soil in the fields, and maize crops that didn’t seem to be getting much taller. That particular section was closed last autumn due to lack of water, although we were assured that the near continuous rains of February to April had refilled the reservoirs. Despite that, every time we dropped a double wide lock 70 x 14 x8’, in volume, it felt like a lot of water going downhill. We met up with other boats occasionally and shared a few locks, but were alone for the most part.
Along our way, we took every canal side spur that presented itself. We took the Wendover arm: 6 miles up to a dead end, a windy narrow little channel that suddenly took you past a modern working flour mill, and later petered out in a small turning basin in a field.
The next one was the Aylesbury arm: after many narrow locks we reached a turning basin in the middle of the town that appeared to have been bulldozed and rebuilt without any soul. There were visitor moorings and services there, but we felt no inclination to stay. After a quick raid on Waitrose, we were on our way.
the irresistible Hambleton Bakery
Our next detour was to Market Harborough, which was quite a surprise: a lovely basin at the end, beautifully redeveloped but in keeping with the former port and wharves. We found excellent moorings and services, too. John and I took a short walk through town to the wonderful Hambleton bakery, a butcher, fishmonger, hardware and all sorts of excellent small shops.
Halfway down the famous Foxton Locks
Foxton Locks are famous, with two 5-step staircase locks with a small pound between them. There were many gongoozlers milling about. The locks are interesting in that they let any excess water out into a series of side pounds as you go down. This saves water but makes for a more complex operation. Fortunately there are volunteer lock keepers to keep track of both boats and people!
Beautiful sunset on the Grand Union Canal
The weather continues to be extraordinarily dry and hot. I have discovered the delights of dipping my feet, socks and all, into a bucket of canal water. What a relief, especially when they feel that they might catch fire! In the evenings, we endeavour to moor in the shade.
We are headed towards Nottingham now, then the Erewash canal before heading east towards Shardlow.
Happy Canada Day from Ali’s Dream, John and me!
Hoping that summer has found you wherever you are, Happy Canada Day!
This week’s sale pattern:
Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends and Happy Fourth of July to our American ones!
To celebrate, my Zinnia DK Blanket and its accompanying Tutorial are our very special downloads of the week.
The Zinnia is a spectacularly beautiful double-layer blanket; something lovely to knit on, whenever you need it. Knit a smaller Zinnia and create a lovely chair pad or coaster!
The Zinnia DK Blanket and its accompanying Tutorial are both half-price until July 5,
Happy July Stitches!