Friday, 8 August 2014

Welford to Foxton

Now that Welford Marina is Patience's new home (and very pleased she is with it!), we have planned several trips to explore our new patch. So Duncan and Jenny set out to head north up the Leicester Arm for the short but delightful 9 miles up to Foxton. It was from Foxton that we set off on our very first family narrow boat holiday in 1994.
With only one lock (that on the Welford arm) between the marina and Foxton Top Lock we had an easy time of it with only the Husband's Bosworth tunnel to negotiate and the rest beautiful calm green countryside and harvested fields, the sun beaming down on us all the way to Foxton for about 4 hours.

We approached the Foxton top lock, turned in the side arm that once lead to the inclined plane and came back under Bridge 60 to moor.

Moorings directly above the Top Lock are best kept for those waiting to go down the locks, or filling up with water.
Above Bridge 60 there were ample moorings, including one Candy Boat supplying sweets.

On arrival we explored the locks and ended up in the Foxton Locks Inn - good grub, good selection of beers, delightful sitting out in sunshine by the waterfront.

Next day we returned to the locks as gongoozlers and admired the way the locks are planned with side ponds to hold the water and direct it to the next lock in the staircase.
The trick, as a boater, is to open the red paddle followed by the white paddle. This fills one lock and empties the next, while directing the water into the pond for re-use. Much more detail here.
Looking up from just below the central pound which divides the two lock staircases so boats can pass each other half way through the flight.
Again looking up the flight, from a vantage point on top of the museum which was the engine house for the inclined plane. The lock keeper's house is the white building at the top.
Looking down from near the top of the flight. This is gongoozler heaven! The museum is the red brick building on the right
The museum is excellent and well worth seeing. It explains the working of locks and this system in particular, the history and significance of Foxton locks and would be of interest to all ages.
The mechanism for the Inclined Plane, which from 1900 to 1911 moved boats speedily up a steep gradient, avoiding the slow and tiring locks and saving water, was sold off for scrap in the 1920's but enough remains to visualise the engineering achievement and envy the system.
 The Inclined Plane in 1900
One of the pulley wheels around which the cables turned, holding the caissons in which the boats sat for their journey up or down the plane.
See The Anderton Lift and The Falkirk Wheel amongst other remarkable boat lifts for ways of moving a boat up or down between water levels.

How wonderful it is that people come from far and wide to be awestruck by engineering ingenuity!

Our return trip (another 9 miles with the Welford lock and the Husbands Bosworth tunnel, was equally attractive and enjoyable. Welford to Foxton - a good trip of two short days with overnight stay. And our new fridge worked brilliantly!

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