Monday, 2 August 2010

Day Eleven: Soar Point

Kilby Bridge - Castle Gardens, Leicester
8 miles, 12 locks 6 hours

We set off earlier today, and planned to go all the way through Leicester. Having wished for a boat to share the locks with yesterday, we headed off just after a hire boat this morning, aiming to share the wide locks with them. So, at the first lock, we went in one at a time. The hireboat was nearly in, with just the stern still to go, when the chap at the helm decided to speed up a little and put some throttle on. At this point, the boat sped suddenly backwards! It seems that the gearbox had developed a fault. So, we ensured that they had been in contact with the hire base, and went on our way again, with no boat to share the locks. It was hard going again, and we were beginning to get despondent. Then I realised we'd not yet had tea this morning! So, with the kettle on and the sun beginning to shine, things started to look up. Still no boat to share the lock with but we made better progress and I took over the steering, which was good practice and gave me a break from heavy lock-work!

The approach into Leicester is lovely. It feels rural up until pretty much the centre of the city, We had no trouble at all. A couple of kids came down to one lock, but they weren't trouble makers and they did help. James chatted to them for a bit and explained how the lock worked.

One of few non-rural locks

After King's Lock, the River Soar joins the canal. This gave the waterway a different feel: the water looks clearer but it is weedier. At one point, a huge unguarded weir takes over one side of the river. In a flood it must be hair-raising!

The massive weir

Once in Leicester, we had planned to stop briefly before carrying on out of the city. But we found a fantastic mooring in Castle Gardens which is on a floating pontoon behind a high fence, which in turn is on accessible from within a park that is locked at 8pm. Boaters can enter via a BW key operated gate at the side of the gardens, making it very secure. We went for a wander around the city centre, did some shopping (for more delicious local sausages and some Red Leicester cheese), and shared a chocolate frappacino whilst reading the paper. We liked the place and the mooring enough to decide that we'd stay the night here, go and see a film while we were in a 'proper' town, and carry on in the morning.

So, while we only travelled a shorter distance today, we are still 2 days ahead of our schedule, and planning to do a longer trip tomorrow.

Castle Gardens mooring

Bridge over the River Soar. I love that reflection!

Riverside tiles designed by local kids

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