Tuesday, 29 September 2015

South Wigston (a pleasant stay in Leicester)

On Monday morning we paid a quick visit to Leicester’s (famous) food market to stock up on fruit and veg.  We said goodbye to our neighbours John and Jane, whom we’d moored against on Sunday night, and set off southwards in the mist.

The stretch of water in the picture above is known as the Straight Mile and is used for rowing.  When Matthew was at uni here he belonged to the uni boat club so rowed this section many times.  This is the end of the straight where the rowers turn – we’re moored up waiting for the lock to be set.

Opposite the lock is Leicester City’s football ground.  I’ve forgotten how many premiership grounds we’ve cruised past but there are a surprising number.  From memory we have seen Reading, both Manchesters and Coventry but I’m sure there have been others.

After four locks we passed Maffi coming in the opposite direction on his narrowboat Milly.  We hadn’t seen him since being iced in at Fradley in the winter and played boat leapfrog for a while as we cruised North up the Trent & Mersey.  After lunch we met up with a guy who was going in our direction so we went up the next six locks with him.  He has been out on his boat since April and has cruised much of the same routes as us but our paths never crossed.  It’s always nice to share locks with people and swap stories. 

This dye works is one of several alongside the river south of Leicester.  The river used to be inky black for many miles through Leicester from the factory effluents until legislation was brought in to make the companies remove all colour from their discharges.

For the first few miles we were still on the river which looked lovely, if narrow, in the sunshine.  As usual, it was good to get out into the country again but we both felt that Leicester has been misaligned.  We had been led to believe that it was rough and that you mustn't stop anywhere or the boat's windows would be smashed and we would get mugged. The city centre itself is much cleaned up and far more presentable than I remember it when I last visited 25 years ago. We definitely liked Leicester and would recommend people stop there.

The exit to one lock seemed dangerously close to an unprotected section of weir.  It must be pretty hair-raising when the river is flowing faster – it is very gentle at present.

Five miles south of Leicester the navigation turned into the Grand Union (Leicester Section) marked by this milestone.

We moored at South Wigston after covering eight miles and ten locks.  I rang Stuart who lives nearby to arrange when he and Cheryl can join us.  When I mentioned South Wigston Cheryl said, “Oh dear, that’s a bit grim”.  Fortunately we were out in the country well away from the town.

 Here are the ten locks we went up today.


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