Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Foxton Trip

A bit of a monster blog for me this is. Should have taken more photo’s but was just too busy chilling out. Despite a few mishaps and problems it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
Sunday 22/09  Pillings - Watermead Country Park
Set off about 2 o’clock at a leisurely pace as it should only be a short run of about 3 hours, sharing locks all the way. Mostly with two couples on ‘Lock by Lock’. After the long lay off their experience was a great help to get back into the swing. Passed ‘Seyella’ but saw no one to say hello, shame that, Its one of the blogs I like to follow. The weather is looking good and the forecast is looking promising.
Now moored beside Watermead Country Park enjoying some well earned bacon cobs. Nothing but healthy eating on this trip J
7 miles / 6 locks
Total 7 miles / 6 locks
Monday 23/09  Watermead Country Park – Kings Lock
A good day again for sharing locks, started with a couple on ‘Elysium’ who went as far as Leicester Castle Park with us and then it was only three more locks to stop just short of Kings Lock.  Some of the locks are very heavy and it’s a shame there is so much rubbish floating about. At least we managed to get through without picking anything up.
8 miles / 8 locks
Total 15 miles / 14 locks
Tuesday 24/09  Kings Lock – Kilby Bridge
Disturbed night as some saddo went down the moored boats banging on the hulls about 03.45.
Dogs went ballistic so we were wide awake for the next hour. Had a bit of lie in and a late start but managed  to  wear the dogs out in Aylestone Meadows. Then a bit of a scare when the heating started playing up but just needed a drop more coolant in the header tank. Hopefully the last of the air is now out of the system.
Shared the first  six locks with Neil on ‘Ruby Too’ before we stopped for a lunch break and to let the dogs out.
We have now passed Whetstone winding hole the furthest south we have been so far. Now we are alone Karen agreed to steer the boat on her own whilst I lock wheeled. It all went very well so now I’m worried I may have to work for a living. J 
Now moored just south of Kilby Bridge enjoying a stew from the slow cooker.
6 miles / 9 locks
Total 21 miles / 23 locks
Wednesday 25/09 Kilby Bridge – Foxton Locks
A day of problems most of which were over come. Last night the black water gauge suddenly decided to show full and it became difficult to flush the toilet, so first thing in the morning we reversed the three hundred yards to Kilby Bridge to use the pump out facilities. Problem, the pump out is CRT card but none of the staff around have authority to sell cards or know how to get hold of one. Now what do we do? We are up black water creek without a pumpout! We decided to bite the bullet and head for Debdale marina but that is a long way away. By lunchtime we had done 7 locks and were going well. Karen had started taking the helm into the locks and we were getting into a good routine taking it in turns to go ahead and lockwheel. . The pound between Spinney Lock (24) and Newton Top Lock (23) was very low and we grounded a few times. Sounds of something round the prop after that – looks like a trip down the weed hatch when we reach Foxton. Got to keep going if we are to make Debdale before closing time.
After that it was stop for lunch before tackling the last 5 locks before Saddington tunnel. Things were going well until just after bridge 79 the engine came to an abrupt stop. Restarted the engine but as soon as forward or reverse was engaged the engine stalled. Down the weed hatch I go with Karen holding on to the centre line from the tow path. About an hour of faffing about with various cutting implements saw ropes, fishing line, plastic and part of a sari removed, this has put us back at least an hour and Karen doesn’t want her bread knife back for some reason.
Romped through the next five locks but managed to loose a windlass in our haste.  Had a good clear run through Saddington tunnel but still arrived at Debdale too late for a pump out. Carried on to Foxton and winded before watering. Now moored just north of Foxton ready for a dash to Debdale first thing. Final calamity was one of the wheelhouse hinges breaking as we put it up for the night. Shower and a hot meal order of the day.
Too cream crackered to go to the pub so it’s a quiet drink and an audio book to relax with.
9 miles / 12 locks / 1 tunnel
Total 30 miles / 35 locks / 1 tunnel
Thursday 26/09 Foxton  - Debdale & back
A leisurely breakfast before dropping down to Debdale for a pump out and then back to Foxton. On our return we managed to get the two day mooring right by bridge 62. A quiet day just mooching about and exploring with the odd pint in the bridge 61 pub.  Arranged to meet up old with friends Tony and Les  (Who said less of the old) on the following day.  ‘Elysium’, who we had shared locks with came through moored up on the Harborough Arm along with ‘4Evermoore’ which we had looked round when choosing our ‘builder’ – at least she still looks good and I hope the people who have bought have a good time in her. I really must start and get to know peoples names, I must know dozens of people to speak to but haven’t a clue what their names are – but then does it matter so much?
1 mile
Total 31 miles / 35 locks  / 1 tunnel
Friday 27/09 Foxton  - Bottom Half Mile Lock (Kilby)
Another leisurely start and winded below the locks to be ready for the off that afternoon.
Met up with Tony and Les for a very pleasant chinwag and lunch at the Waterfront  pub. Ordered  4 ‘Light bites’ ploughman’s which were huge, so a recommendation to meet there again.
Set off, back the way we had come, just on two o’clock and kept going until stopped by lack of light by Bottom Half Mile Lock landing. Had intended to moor in the pound but the edges were so overgrown.
8 miles / 8 locks / 1 tunnel
Total 39 miles / 43 locks / 2 tunnels
Saturday 28/09 Bottom Half Mile Lock – Kings Lock
Very early start for us 07:30 to clear the lock landing and stopped for breakfast at Kilby Bridge. From Kilby  we paired up with a couple on ‘Mrs D’ which made for an enjoyable journey to Kings Lock where we stopped below the lock for the dash through Leicester on Sunday. 'Mrs D' opted to carry on into Leicester.  We are starting to get the hang of this boating lark, the slower the better. The dogs were a bit stressed during the first couple of days but have now settled down and accepted T-A as their second home, which in turn is making life more pleasant for us. Putting the wheelhouse up after mooring and the second hinge broke on the windscreen so now it is just held in place by its catches.  Both hinges have broken through the first screw hole which is obviously a weak spot.
7miles / 13 locks
Total 46 miles / 56 locks / 2 tunnels

Sunday 29/09  Kings Lock  - Watermead Country Park
A quiet  cruise on our own today, not much traffic about. Stopped off at Tesco Express by Mill Lane Bridge on the mile straight, for some more dog food. Passed Mrs. D still at Castle Gardens moorings.
Leicester may be trying for the city of culture banner but it wouldn’t hurt to clear some of the rubbish floating around the river. North Lock seems to be in a sorry state with badly fitting gates and rotten woodwork. In fact we have passed through several locks that will require remedial action over the winter. Moored up beside Watermead Country Park about 3:30, with the intention of giving the dogs a good walk. Could probably have made it to Pillings – but what’s the rush J.
We are well ahead of schedule having factored in at least two days where we would not move owing to poor weather, but it has been fine throughout the trip.
8 miles / 8 locks
Total 54 miles / 64 locks / 2 tunnels.
Monday 30/09 Watermead Country Park – Pillings Marina.
Another gentle cruise back to the marina just taking our time, arriving back about lunch time.
The natives en-route seemed very friendly.
Needed a bit of help to get back into our berth as the breeze was getting up and we have to reverse in to get the dogs off as the pontoons are fairly short. That’s my excuse anyway. Feeling bone idle, once the wheelhouse was up and the boat secure it was a case of load the dogs, food and dirty washing before heading for home.
It may not be much but it was our longest trip in Trudy-Ann so far and it bodes well for the future.
7 miles / 6 locks
Total 61 miles / 70 locks / 2 tunnels (Or should that be 35 locks / 1 tunnel twice)
On Tuesday we were back down to T-A to clear the rest of our bits and pieces and while Karen cleaned up I replaced all the wheelhouse hinges. Rather than use filler the old screw holes have been plugged with stainless steel grub screws.

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