Friday, 4 June 2010

Are You Experienced?

The X7 from Northampton stops outside Market Harborough police station, which is just down the road from the canal basin where I was due to join Bernard aboard Sunshine at two o' clock. The first sight on entering the basin was of  Hadar, which normally plies its trade selling coal and diesel on the local canals but which is currently out of service at Market Harborough due to Keith and Jo's medical problems.
Bernard was anxious to get away quickly to ensure that we could get through Foxton locks before they closed - anticipating long queues due to it being half-term and the weekend of the boat show at Crick. It's an easy run from Market Harborough; lock free and with the only obstacles being the two swing bridges on the approach to Foxton.
Sunshine negotiating the first swing bridge on the approach to Foxton
On arrival at the locks we were mildly surprised to find no one else waiting to ascend. Its essential at Foxton to find the lock-keeper and inform him of your arrival otherwise you risk losing your place in the queue and not being allowed to negotiate the flight, so I set off to find him, eventually tracking him down leaning out of the upstairs window of the cottage at the top lock. "We're at the bottom waiting to come up", I said. "OK, Have you been up before?"  "Yes", said I (well three years ago I did go down, but I suppose its all the same). "Right then, you can come through - wait halfway to pass three downhill boats" Just like that!
There are ten locks at Foxton, arranged as two five-rise staircases, and the only passing place is halfway up. I think the two flights must be slightly mis-aligned - or perhaps it was the presence of Sunshine waiting to proceed - but all three of the downhill boats hit the wall of the top lock in the lower staircase with a resounding bang. The lockie, however, had obviously seen it all before and made no comment to any of the steerers concerned.
We were at the top lock and through the flight just before six o' clock so carried on to Husbands Bosworth, where we tied up with difficulty just north of the tunnel. Either the residents of Husbands Bosworth or British Waterways don't want any visitors to the village as the moorings here need a lot of improvement to make the village accessible to passing boaters. Despite the lack of welcome we did walk up into the village later on and had a pint at the village pub. The beer was OK but the pub itself was more like a cafe in terms of decor and the fact that just about everyone in the bar was eating. I did notice however that most customers stayed on after their meal for a few pints - unlike Herefordshire where rural pubs are often deserted after about 9.30pm, even at weekends.

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