|Early morning temptation, this Simon Wain seventy footer|
Two hours later we had nearly bought it!
The boat belonged to our mate from the Tollhouse. Tony buys and sells boats so anything he owns is up for sale. At the right price. Tony is also a delightful, patrician charmer who knows plenty about boats and even more about selling them. His patter is so smooth it melts in your brain. Not for nothing do we call him 'Swiss Tony' after the legendary Fast Show character.
"Everyone should own a 70ft boat at some time in their lives," he enthused. "And this one is proper. You won't find one like it these days. Simon (Wain) built it and hardly builds these days, Roger (Fuller) has given up, so has Graham (Edgson). It's too expensive; there's no money in it." You'll notice that Tony calls everyone by their christian names.
Trouble was, it was hard to disagree with anything he said. The boat was great: acres of space, handsome lines, a lovely JP2M engine, a fine back cabin ("look at that scumbly-wumbly"). We wanted it but we didn't want it. Why did we need a 70ft boat? We didn't. Tony agreed: we didn't need it. Which only made us want it more.
|Sense prevails and we head in Watford locks in Harry|
When we were last here the villagers of Yelvertoft were up in arms about plans for a big new marina and, worse, applications for several windfarms in the area – all cunningly put in my different developers to different councils. The marina is now built and doesn't seem to have impacted on life and there's at least one windfarm, which is probably one too many for the locals.
We moored and walked down the short Welford Arm, like everywhere busier than I recall it, and then headed via the three-quarter mile Husbands Bosworth tunnel to Foxton. The Leicester is certainly a cure for tunnel-phobia – there are three, the longest being the 1500 yarder of Crick. Fortunately all are two-way so they lack the smokey claustrophobia of narrower ones.
|And down the Foxton locks in the rain|
|The remains of the Inclined Plane from above|
|And from the old feeder canal at the base|
Unfortunately it wasn't reliable, cost a lot to run and the queues just re-formed at the Watford Locks which weren't improved so the Plane was abandoned and sold for scrap. Its remains can still be seen. What a tourist attraction a new one would be, they say. Hmmm. I'm inclined to think there are enough visitors there already and coachloads of trippers might just spoil the charm of this quiet country canal.