Sunday, 1 August 2010

Day Ten: Staircase to Heaven

Bridge 51 (North of Husband's Bosworth Tunnel) - Kilby (Wigston)

14 miles, 22 locks (10 staircase), 1 tunnel

7 1/2 hours

Firstly, I just noticed that we've been living afloat for 2 years today!

Today was another late start (getting into the habit!) but it was a productive day. A few miles north of where we spent last night is the top of Foxton staircase locks. Like Watford, these involved getting into a queue. We were lucky to arrive at just the right time: the lockie was assembling a flotilla of 6 boats to descend the staircase imminently. We took our place as boat 5 of 6. Had we turned up any later we'd have had to wait for all 6 boats to come down, and another 6 to come up before we could continue.

The flight was great fun. The boat behind us had a small band, with a tuba, trombone and banjo playing in its welldeck, so we and the many, many gongoozlers were serenaded by cheery tunes from above as we locked down. With so many people around, we had plenty of help. We swapped roles halfway down: I took the tiller, and James was in his element working the locks and providing explanations to all and sundry, eliciting lots of help from small children to move beams. In particular, a couple of large Orthodox Jewish families were very keen to be involved. The parents were interested in learning about how the locks worked, and even the smallest toddlers wanted to help push the beams.

The brass band boat can just be seen at the top of the flight

Gongoozlers galore!

James explains the principle of staircase locks

The whole family gets involved

All too soon we reached the bottom and were on our way again. A peaceful lock free stretch soon gave way to a set of 12 wide locks, quite spread out. They were hard going with just the two of us. Despite the hoards of boats at Foxton, we hardly saw any other boats as we continued north. We longed for a boat to share the locks! Despite only using one gate, the other redundant gates had a habit of swinging open, requiring one of us to go back and close it, to avoid damaging it when the paddles at the bottom were opened. Still, we made it down the 12 in good time, and found an excellent BW station mooring just outside Leicester in Wigston, complete with showers. The setting is also quite open, and so we let Lyra go out for a longer, supervised wander in the field. Now we're off to check out the showers to see if they are as good as we have heard they are!

Leicestershire countryside


  1. Wow, sounds like such fun, all the activity and a banjo!