My short trip aboard "Sunshine" ended last Monday at the bottom of Foxton Locks. We'd arrived at the top just before dark last night and after the locks had closed. We planned to go down the flight first thing in the morning so felt it would be OK to tie up on the lock moorings and be first in the queue.
You have to see the lock-keeper before you can go through these locks and so just after eight, when the flight opens, we walked down to the office to make ourselves known. It's important to do this: Bernard once saw a boater publicly upbraided and sent to the back of the queue for failing to tell the lockie he wanted to come through.
Today's (volunteer) 'keeper was nothing like that and, as there were no other boats waiting to come through, told us we could go whenever we liked! He did warn us that the first boat of the day always brings more water down with it than any other - and no one really knows why. It sounded a bit unlikely but, sure enough, at the halfway point, where the two five-lock staircases are separated by a short pound, water was pouring over the top and bottom gates of the lower top lock and the 'keeper had to open top and bottom paddles to control it.
The descent took 50 minutes - with a slight hold up whilst the water was balanced - after which we tied up for a quick breakfast before I walked into Foxton village for the bus to Market Harborough. From there I caught the X7 to Northampton (which was running 25 minutes late) which put me on the main line for a train to Crewe. From Crewe station I caught a bus to the Trent & Mersey and called in on Starcross, where I lit the fire, ran the engine for a while to charge the batteries, called in at the pub for a pint and then the chippie to collect my tea.
The Trust has arranged assisted passages of the Manchester Ship Canal via Ellesmere Port and the Weaver to allow boats to get back to - or away from - the Anderton area cut off by the breaches on the Trent & Mersey and it's been very tempting to take advantage of them. Unfortunately, though, the dates they've offered aren't suitable for me so I'll be sitting it out here a little longer.