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Bank holiday at Foxton Locks and return to Norton Junction (23 miles, 2 tunnels and 7 locks!)

We would both like to say that we had a lovely time at Foxton Locks, over the Easter and bank holiday period and would like to thank everyone for their custom and warm welcome.  We will return!!

People pottering up and down the flight over the weekend

The weather was fairly kind to us and we managed to get the gift shop open a few days in a row, creating a lot of interest especially from those who remembered the tiny version!

Plaque depicting the travelling times and number of locks from Foxton Boat lift, built in 1900

During our stay, we walked around the site of the old Inclined Plane boat lift, marvelling at it's gradient and vastness.

View down from the top of the inclined boat lift site to the canal below

The boat lift was built to raise and lower barges and narrowboats in huge counterbalanced tanks, linking the 2 sections of canal with speed and efficiency, but fell into decline when it was superseded by the railway and ongoing upkeep costs.

View from an old working boat looking across to where it would have travelling into the lift and down the hill

 Different angle of the boat looking across to where the old boiler house used to sit

Towards the end of the day as the last stragglers leave for their cars

A baffling and totally embarrassing event occurred during our stay, when we decided to visit the advertised event of invited speakers at the village hall one evening.  This had been organised by the Historic Narrow Boat Club and was meant to be for members only!  We did not know this and were apparently not the only people privy to the itinerary, who were to be turned away that evening.  Never mind perhaps we will become members in the future, who knows.  The gentleman who enforced the rules, (insurance restrictions) came and apologised a couple of days later, as existing members rallied to our support!  Thanks guys, you know who you are!

Filling up with water before we leave to return to the Welford Arm for the evening

The weather started to turn on Tuesday, as we emptied the cassettes, disposed of rubbish and filled the tank back up, after much needed clothes washing had been done.

Lister stretches his legs, as we moor for a couple of nights at the Welford Arm junction

Passing through the Husbands Bosworth tunnel (1170 yards long), we met 2 oncoming boats and managed to scrape the butty and the 'big boat' on the overhanging arch quite badly.  Nothing a lick of paint couldn't sort!

Nick Wolfe moored in front of us

The first night, we moored next to the Cheese Boat, for the final time as they were to go down the Grand Union towards Milton Keynes. We planned to go to Braunston for the May bank holiday weekend,  so we would not see them for a while.

Passing us to go through the tunnel at Crick, is Biddie and butty Olive (Rod and Tracey)

Catching us up the next evening were Rod and Tracey on their boats.  Thursday morning, an emergency stop for supplies at Crick meant they overtook us and moored up before Watford lock flight later on.

A wet morning and a flight of locks to get done!

We spent a great evening dining in Mcdonalds in Watford Gap services with Nick, Rod and Tracey, before having a late night cap playing guitars and catching up with gossip.  We know how to live!!

View in the 'staircase' lock back at the gates, luckily not too leaky!

Earlyish this morning, we ventured down the flight with the help from the volunteer locky on duty.  I made sausage sandwiches and tea for everyone as I moored up first below the flight.  A much appreciated breakfast for those still in progress down the flight.

Rod steering Biddie past us at Crick with their butty Olive

Grateful thanks go to Rod and Tracey for assisting us down the locks first.  We returned the favour, as is canal etiquette!

Richard is now on the train collecting our car from Sawley, where it has had a break for a couple of months.  This will enable us to go to the wholesalers and explore a new venture on Monday.........

The Gift Shop Opens!!! Norton Junction to Foxton Locks (23 miles, 7 locks)

All winter we have been preparing for this moment!  The new gift shop on our recently stretched butty boat has been open this weekend!

The first effort at a display in the new gift shop.  More sprucing required!

A week ago we set off from Norton Junction to travel up the Leicester section of the Grand Union Canal.

Norton Junction looking from Braunston direction.  Left is Leicester, straight on is London!

The weather behaved as we slowly approached the junction anticipating the tight left hand bend with the butty cross-strapped to the stern of the 'big boat'.

Signpost at the junction

Under the bridge before the left hand bend

90 degrees and time to put the tiller over on the opposite lock

Straightening the tiller, we make progress under the wooden bridge and onto the Leicester section

Scooby and me on the butty doing a 'selfie' !  Look up Scoob!

Someone is having some work done!

Leaving Watford locks behind us, we head for Crick and the tunnel

Jams and preserves for sale at the side of the canal for boaters

Crick tunnel entrance and wow was it wet and dark and even wetter at the other end!

Mooring in Crick, we stayed for a couple of nights, visiting the shop and the garden centre, before setting off again with full watertank etc

Crack Hill outside Crick

Yelvertoft Marina, still looking half empty and windswept

We had to stop after a couple of hours because the going was hard work on this section.  It seemed very shallow and progress was slow.

Lots of calves around now

I steered the 'big boat' the next day reaching Welford Junction by around 10.30 in the morning and a warm welcome from Geraldine and Michael off the Cheese Boat.  They were waiting to go up the Welford Arm for their boat blacking that weekend.

Beautiful roses and lettering on this narrowboat

This time we were going to get to Foxton locks with the intention of opening the new gift shop for the weekend.

Richard having perhaps too much fun doing my job on the butty.  Suppose I ought to have dropped him on the long line and see how he coped then!  Not so easy!

Rolly hills just outside Foxton

Foxton was empty as we moored up above the locks.  We had a walk down the flight and the bottom was dead as well.  Canal and River Trust really have done a proper job scaring boaters away from this historic tourist attraction with their mooring restrictions and overstaying charges.  Well done!!!!!

The flight in a hauntingly underused state!  No boats, no tourists, come on CRT, you are killing businesses. It doesn't take a genius to work out what needs doing!

A quite but lovely weekend at Foxton with the gift shop open

Sunday seemed to attract a few boaters to moor up, but mostly on the 14 day mooring back before the bridge.  We moved this morning as we were on the restricted part, but our friends Gail and Trevor, on The Candy Boat planned to stay on the 14 day for a bit longer and we would meet up again next weekend when we return.  

Hopefully more boats will pass up through the locks and more people will come and we will be busy!