Saturday 9th August 2008
Mountsorrel to Kilby Bridge.
A miserable rainy and windy day. We set off from Mountsorrel and at the first lock a miserable bloke who didn't like the order that I wanted to do the paddles in lectured me while the lock was filling - would he have been so rude to a man I wonder? This put a cloud over the first part of my morning, but I decided that I wasn't going to let him ruin my day long after he'd passed by, so decided that he was just a stupid old fart, and felt much better.
We didn't want to stop early at the secure moorings in the centre of Leicester, and had been told that some parts of Leicester were not great for mooring. We needed to press on and get right through Leicester before the evening - a lot of miles and a lot of locks.
No power to the prop - The first problem we encountered was at about 10 o'clock, when we were approaching a lock. As Alan put the boat into reverse to slow the boat as he approached the landing for the lock nothing happened - it was if the propellor had dropped off (boats don't have brakes - you stop or slow down by going into reverse). So we hit the side hard.
Trousers - Once we were moored Alan opened the weed hatch (which allows you to look at the prop). In our boat this is not an easy thing to do as there is very little room and means lying on your stomach in a very restricted space next to the engine (which was of course, hot). We avoid this if it is at all possible, but with nothing happening there was no alternative.
It turned out that there was some kind of cloth wrapped very tightly around the prop and the prop shaft. David, being very much skinnier and more flexible than either of us crawled into the narrow space with a pair of scissors, and hacked and ripped at the cloth until he emerged triumphant with a pair of jogging bottoms (so what scenario gets a pair of jogging bottoms into the canal?). This took about 40 minutes out of our schedule.
On through Leicester passing various landmarks dimly glimpsed through the persistent rain. The National Space Centre - I long to visit, but doing so would have meant mooring up in Leicester, and another day later home - by this point we really felt that we had pushed leaving an 18 year old (however sensible) on his own far too long.
The roar of a crowd told us that this building was something to do with football. Much of the southern area of Leicester is very attractive, but we found the anti-vandal locks still in use well into the countryside beyond the town. We were surprised at the vigour and energy of anyone who wants to walk that far to leave graffiti or empty locks.
No vandals - It must be said that despite approaching a number of towns with some trepidation as 'bandit towns' we met nothing but courtesy and friendliness from the young people on the towpath.
The weather eased a bit towards the evening, but with the possibility of a shower at any time.
We eventually moored at Kilby Bridge, I was far too tired to head for the pub, so we prepared a quick meal, and went off to bed.
Daily Total: 18.66 miles and 21 locks
Running Total: 257. 3 miles, 296 locks, 15 tunnels (still)
Archaeology of a road
4 days ago