Sunday, 2 July 2017

Down from the hills

Those big locks were hard work today
We have left the gently rolling hills of lovely Leicestershire at last and dropped down thirteen locks into the flat river valley that is taking us through the busy suburbs and soon into the city of Leicester itself.
It's been lovely weather but, boy, the locks have been hard work. I've known heavier and I've known stiffer but these are still plain awkward.
They're quite slow to fill – the last inch or two takes forever and the darned things often just won't stay shut. Try to drive in or out through one gate and the other is guaranteed to drift open. Worse, often as not when you try to shut the bottom gates behind the departing boat one simply swings open again and you have to run round the lock and pull it shut. Whereupon the other one starts to drift open...
I could have buzzed forever round the gates of Bumblebee Lock. The gates of that one resolutely refused to stay shut. Which is probably why the pound above it was so low we were scraping through the mud to reach the lock.
The canal was still quiet – we met only one other boat in the morning; a Norwegian couple on a four week canal holiday. They've come every year for seven years and done different parts of the network. I've met so many overseas regulars on the canals. Sometimes I think we don't realise just how highly our system is regarded by others.
Though we did get a bit of help through this one
All changed after Kilby Bridge; boats started appearing and we paired up with Nb Aylestone for the last half dozen locks of the day. They'd been going for even longer than us and were even more glad of some help with the locks – a lockwheeler either side to stop those blasted gates swinging.
By now we were right on the southern edge of Leicester and not much of it looked suitable for overnight mooring. Especially not after Mrs B hooked a shopping trolley out of the cut. A large gaggle of kids drifted out of the bushes at the next lock where they'd been hanging about as kids do and vaguely helped us through in a haphazard, teenager-ish way.
We plodded on looking for somewhere away from trolleys and teenagers and suddenly found it as the canal swung through ninety degrees and entered the pretty water meadows of the River Soar and, at least for one night, we were back in the country.

Rescued from the cut and above to go in a rubbish hopper




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