Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Foxton facilities

We both walked 6 miles there and back to Foxton. It was a sunny Saturday and when we got there were surprised to find it so busy. “Well it is half term and all the hire boats are coming out of Market Harborough”. Most of them joining the queue to go up the locks. Two lock keepers were on hand to offer advice and assist. One dressed with a bowler hat. We got there at midday and enjoyed a snack from the cafe by the top lock. Boaters tended to stop at the top for a rest by occupying both water points! There is also a pub and a boater’s cafe at the bottom. There is a car park at the top and bottom as well. That Saturday was a wonderful start for their holiday but what did they think when waking up to frost n ice in the morning?

The site of the Inclined Plane has been cleared of trees and undergrowth so can be seen for what it is, a derelict area. Much of the equipment has been lost or destroyed many years ago. It was operating in 1900 to bypass the locks. Powered by steam proved very uneconomical so was soon closed. The planned widening of the Watford locks never took place so the link between the wide north and south Grand Union canals remained narrow to this day.

We took our boat down a few days later. Ice had formed over night but was nearly gone when we moved. Got water at the top lock and waited a while for one boat to come up. Then it was our turn to go down the ‘stair case’ locks. By now it was a sunny warm day and many ‘gongoozlers’ were watching and helping as we went down. Each lock has a foot bridge across it and our biminy only just went under most of them but had to lower it a few inches for one bridge. At the bottom we turned right and opened that new swing bridge to head towards Market Harborough. But then stopped before a bridge where ‘Balmaha’ was waiting with Mo n Vanessa.

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