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Kilby Bridge to Foxton Locks (9 miles, 12 locks)

We resumed our journey, intending on bringing the boats up the remaining 12 locks for a couple of days mooring outside the village of Fleckney.

Spinney lock on the edge of Newton Harcourt

Richard approaching Spinney Lock

Unfortunately I didn't have my phone with me, when a young girl walked past with 2 miniature ponies on leads and a terrier.  One of those surreal moments.....  All I could think of was she'd need a big bag to clean that lot up!

One side base colours applied to the new stern of Echoes

We quite enjoy stopping at Fleckney, as the towpath is quiet and it is a nice walk across the field to the High Street, which has a much needed Co-op and above all a much missed chippy!

Approaching Saddington Tunnel ~ a shortish one for us at 881yards

After a rest for a couple of days, painting and walking the dogs around the wood and the village, we decided that we ought to get to Foxton in good time for the weekend before Easter.

Beautiful scenery as we wind our way along the contour between Foxton bottom and Kibworth top

Debdale Wharf Marina

The boys wait patiently whilst we top up on the water point just outside Foxton basin

Before we knew it, we had arrived at Foxton, where we filled the watertank and debated where to moor for a few days.

Richard brings the boats through the swingbridge

I jumped off at the bridge before the basin and ran on ahead to open the swingbridge leading onto the Market Harborough arm.  We thought we may go all the way into Harborough as it only about 5 miles, but decided to stop just outside Foxton Village, allowing us to walk back into the basin to empty cassettes, rubbish etc.

Next to the church stands the Old Grammar School, a small timber building dating from 1614. The ground floor is open, creating a covered market area and there is a single room on the first floor. It has become a symbol of the town. (Wikipedia)

We like to jump on a bus and explore the local towns and Market Harborough is no exception. Richard grabbed his rucksack and we caught the bus for a 10 minute ride into the lovely town.  A little more expensive than we are used to, but we found everything on our shopping list.

Reilly (greyhound) and Lister (black lurcher) test driving the new bunk in the butty for size.

Our work continues on getting the shop in the butty and the backcabin ready for use, as our aim is to open up on the run up to Easter and including Easter for the Foxton Locks Easter Festival.   It is all very exciting, but there still is a huge amount of work to do.  Ok back to it..........

Sileby to Kilby Bridge (17 miles, 20 locks)

As soon as the fog lifted a bit, we resumed our journey through Leicester.

Waiting patiently before the lock

We knew it would be a long day, so the delay with the fog hadn't helped.

Large warehouse converted into posh offices on the way into Leicester

At this point, Richard discovered the prop was full of rubbish, so some emergency reversing and forward manoeuvring with a cross-strapped butty was required!  Interesting trying to keep the butty straight onto the rear fenders on the motor boat, whilst this happens, as the prop wash pushes the butty all over the place!

Turning into the mile straight, this is the view in our wake

Leicester Rowing Club - may dad was a member many years ago....

Leicester City Football ground opposite this large weir

During the day, we ended up being the subject of working canal boat and lock education for a party of nursery school children and later in the day, older children being given an 'outward bound' type lesson about their canal and it's history.

Richard towing the butty whilst I close gates and then run to the next lock, before he gets there.  Quite knackering, but great exercise!

Getting late in the day, but now on the Leicester section of the Grand Union canal, we moored up for the night above South Wigston lock.

Mooring up for a couple of days at Kilby Bridge and a chance to get some painting and more woodwork done

The next morning we quickly finished the journey to Kilby Bridge, where we could fill up with water, empty cassettes and dump the rubbish.   It gave us a chance to recharge our own batteries after the strenuous past few days....

Zouch to Sileby (9 miles, 5 locks)

Our journey continues with the push to get through Leicester before any bad weather hampers our progress....

Lovely moorings on the 'cut' at Zouch

We set off the following morning with the intention to get to Sileby Mill by the end of the day.

Beautiful church at Normanton-on-Soar

The river was serene and we were soon passing up through the locks to Loughborough cut.

The new elum made the 90 degree bend at Loughborough a piece of cake!

Gardens down to the river at Barrow

The impressive railway bridge at Mountsorrel

We moored for the night at Sileby and arranged a visit from my mum, as she now lives not far from the river.

Oh dear, won't be going anywhere for a while!

We got up early to set off at 6am in order to get through Leicester, but thick fog stopped us in our tracks.  Time for breakfast and wait it out for now.....

Sheetstores (Erewash Canal) to Zouch (Grand Union Leicester Section) 6 miles, 5 locks)

The butty is now complete and we are now on our way to our first festival at Foxton at Easter!

The butty stern, complete with new steel elum (ignore the wood box and paint brushes!)

All week, Richard has been working on getting the bare bones of the back cabin in place, to free up the hold area where the shop will be again.
Unfortunately, he wishes his work to remain underwraps until he is completely happy with it....

Launching the butty from the rollers, slowly does it...

PJ Barber has truly performed a miracle on our butty boat, recreating her back cabin out of steel and fabricating a new stern which correctly 'swims', unlike our old rounded, vertical sided one.
Thank you Paul, Dave and Barry for all your hard work on the butty and fabulous new elum (rudder), apparently a first for Paul!  On budget and very professional yard to deal with, recommended.

Approaching Trent Lock above the River Trent at the bottom of the Erewash Canal

I walked the dogs down to the lock, whilst Richard took the boats, breasted up, out of the yard and the short distance to the bottom lock on the Erewash Canal.  The butty, in Richard's words, 'swims like a fish', so he is happy.

Entering the lock

A lower roof on the back cabin, makes the butty look more traditional and when it is painted, it should look beautiful.  We are delighted with it.

Out on the Trent, with the River Soar to the right and the Thrumpton Weir to the left

So the plan is that we get to Foxton via the River Soar, depending on weather and river levels, but the forecast is good, so here goes!

Passing all the moored boats at Redhill

The Otter at Kegworth

The new elum sitting pretty

Beautiful river

After a few locks, we moored for the night on the cut at Zouch, hoping to progress our journey in the morning....

Butty Reconstruction Part 4

Just a very quick update on our butty reconstruction to date.....

Plenty of wood to make a start on the interior

Last week we began by laying a floor in the new cabin with spruce hardboard and then panelling the walls with ply concealing rockwool insulation, recycled from the old cabin.

Richard touching up the blacking

I  repainted the bow decoration on both boats to freshen them up and today we went around and gave the butty yet another coat of bitumen.  We have had a delay owing to our request to make a steel elum (decorated rudder) for the butty, instead of reinstating our old wooden rudder and tiller.

The new elum in situe

The boat is looking proper now, proudly modelling it's new elum.  The butty itself is finished, leaving the final painting of the elum with bitumen and etch primer and some ironmongery on the sides of the butty to enable linking both boats together.

You give us beds, we prefer to sleep in the gangway, because we can and you can step around us...

Meanwhile Lister and Reilly as usual have been very good, sleeping most of the day (after a super bazooker walk each morning to tire them out of course!

So next, is a weekend of waiting for the paint to harder off on the new elum and the much awaited launch on Monday........

Butty Reconstruction Part 3

The motor boat is now back in the water, meanwhile PJ Barber's work on the butty continues with skill and competence.

The stern starts to take shape

The new stern has been attached with a proper 'swim' (the after (back) underwater part of the hull that goes to a point to allow a cleaner flow of water over the rudder) , ergo better handling and hopefully less conflict when breasted up to the motor.

Cabin sides have now gone on attached to the roof section

The old wooden cab has been taken off and the new steel version created.  The dimensions are lower than the old cab, as it was about 4inches too high, but the length will be slightly longer to use more of the stern area, previously wasted.

Starting to look like a boat again

All the external weld seams have been ground down ready for paint and a new transom (the normally rounded after (back) part of the boat above the water where the steerer stands) has been put in.

Painting of some parts has now been possible

The interior of the new back Cabin (originally the after cabin on working boats which provided the crews living and bedroom accommodation) as will be,  is now larger than the old version, and will need painting, floor putting in, insulation and eventually fitting out.  This we will do ourselves.

Richard begins etch primering the exterior steelwork

Etch primering the bulkhead through to the workshop/shop area

The new bulkhead (the upright wall within the hull.  This is a structural wall with a wooden door) has been put in and just needs the door reattaching to complete the entry into the hold (area beyond the cabin where my workshop and gift shop are).

Work on the entry doors and lockers and remaining floor supports is happening now, whilst we order the wood for the floor and prepare to bitumin the new stern area....