After we had remained at Foxton for a couple of days ‘Futurest’ and I moved down the quiet arm to Market Harborough and I booked two nights with British Waterways to moor in the beautifully redesigned Union Wharf Basin. The basic layout remains as it was fifty years ago, when it was a dirty but busy commercial centre. However the whole area has now been redeveloped and the old warehouses turned into modern flats and a restaurant.
The Union Wharf Basin as it used to look in its heyday
I was awaiting the arrival of a couple of letters that I had arranged to be delivered to and then collected by me from the local post office and I didn’t know how many days I would need to stay there, so I comfortably booked in at £8 a night including a 240 volt electric hook up. This meant that I didn’t need to run ‘JP2’ every day, which meant I could get away from the ship for longer periods if I wanted to.
The town was pleasant enough without being outstanding in its architecture or appearance but it had a good indoor market and lots of different shops including supermarkets about twenty minutes walk from the mooring. The oldest relatively untouched building was the Seventeenth Century old Grammar School.
But by last weekend I had collected all my mail and on Sunday morning I was ready to leave. We had a very pleasant journey back to Foxton Locks, where we arrived in the early afternoon. So with time on my hands and feeling for some reason in a celebratory mood I went to the ‘Foxton Locks Inn’, later in the evening to enjoy a meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
The 17th Century Grammar School
Today ‘Futurest’ and I find ourselves on the edge of the sprawling City of Leicester.
Kilby Bridge Wharf though very rural is within half a mile of the built up area that is the suburbs of the city and this built up area stretches, on and off, for the next sixteen miles, according to my maps and guides.
I have heard many stories from boaters that Leicester has an unsociable element of the population that doesn’t encourage one to want to moor overnight there, so I am trying to plan things so that I pass through the city centre during the daylight hours. With this in mind I shall have to plan one more overnight stay somewhere and the suburb of Aylestone looks quite promising. It belongs to a heavy built up area on the right hand side of the canal but on the opposite side, behind the towpath, it appears that there are the open water meadows of the River Soar and a mooring along here might be quite safe. There are some good shops here too according to the ‘First Mate’ Guide, so we’ll probably go for that.
I am glad at last that, for the first time since joining the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal, I have both an excellent internet and phone signal. For a fortnight or more I have barely been able to send a text. Inside the steel shell of a boat the reception is never very good but by going up on deck or even moving along the towpath a few yards often means that you can get through on the phone satisfactorily. But recently I have not even managed to do that.
The reason for this is that the area has been so beautifully rural and the population is scarce. For miles the canal has meandered through green meadows of cattle and sheep and mounds where once stood medieval villages. Even the more modern villages that we passed on the way are small with marvellously quaint names like Smeeton Westerby and Saddington, Fleckney, Wistow and Newton Harcourt. The canal manages to avoid them all. Mostly the Sun has shone brilliantly and though there has been a bite to the breeze, blowing mostly from the south east, daily life has been most pleasant.
To update my photographs here are a few pictures taken en route to Kilby Bridge Wharf from Yelverton.
Daffodils and reflections at Yelvertoft Bridge
The light at the end of Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1166 yds)
This photo for Martin's benefit in particular
Peace & tranquility at the end of the Welford Arm
Ewe and lambs on the beautiful Welford Arm
From the top of Foxton Staircase Locks
From the bottom of the inclined plane