Monday morning dawned bright and pleasant after a pretty wet and windy night, and although past the impending closure, we still had a “mountain” to climb (i.e. lots of locks) to Foxton & Market Harborough. The Quartermaster also needed to stock up on some provisions, so the plan was to carry on up another seven locks (quite enough broad locks in a day) and visit a well regarded farm shop. But first we needed some water, so we moved just across the canal to fill up.
Just as we were leaving Kilby Bridge, we noticed another boat Labyrinth looked as though they were getting ready to depart; they said they were almost ready, so we said we’d wait at the next lock for them. (It really is much easier with two crews). They were originally only going to go up three locks, but as we pootled on they obviously found Song & Dance as amenable a locking companion as we did them, and they decided they would stay with us up to Wistow. A pleasant – if busy – cruise.
No longer a problem for us, the overnight rain had put the Soar on red boards/flood alert, which was clearly going to be a problem for the several boats heading downhill trying to get to Leicester before the Wednesday afternoon deadline. Let’s hope the river went down as quickly as it went up!
We were somewhat surprised to see three Red Kites passing over- didn’t know they were in Leicestershire, but apparently they are. Finding a nice mooring spot relatively close to the Rural Centre cum Farm Shop, we headed off over the fields. The various shopping emporia and garden centre were all open, and full of all those things you never knew you didn’t need, apart from the delicatessen, which was closed due to someone having a hospital appointment. Ah well. At least the café was open, and we walked back across some different fields, a nice circular walk.
Labyrinth had moored just behind us, and on establishing that they kept similar “gentleman’s” hours to us and were going nearly as far as us, we agreed to set off uphill together again on the Tuesday morning.
During breakfast we were treated to a fine view of a sparrow hawk sitting on a fence post just across the canal; unfortunately Labyrinth’s crew missed it.
And so we put another five locks under our belt before waving them goodbye: we tied up and walked across the fields to Fleckney for milk and other supplies. Although full of cows, you could still see the remains of the mediaeval Ridge and Furrow cultivation system. After lunch we navigated through Saddington Tunnel, waved to Labyrinth who were tucked up for the day just the other side, and made our way a little further to Debdale Wharf Marina. We’d arranged an overnight stay to catch up on some more laundry – it’s never ending!
We didn’t altogether take to Debdale Marina: the boats are packed in on long, thin, metal pontoons. It certainly maximises the number of boats per square inch, but getting your boat in and out of mooring at the far end is a serious challenge. Good job we’re not claustrophobic.
Still, the Chief Otter Spotter did manage to add one to her tally.