Head On Wind. 13th January

Barrow-Upon-Soar to Zouch Lock

A lie in and a long look at the Saturday newspaper before we pushed off this morning.

Barrow Deep Lock

Last night a boat had come up Barrow Deep Lock ahead of us, so it was all set for us this morning. This lock leads you down onto a stretch of the river and above there is a set of traffic lights that let you know if it is safe to proceed. Today the lights weren’t working and I couldn’t see a colour river levels board, have to admit I didn’t look too hard as all the boards we came past yesterday were very much in the green and it hadn’t rained that much yesterday. Another sign along side the lock inferred that the navigation was open, so we dropped down. and carried on our way northwards.

KEEP LEFT!But where is the red light?Along this stretch is a weir with a radial gate that is used to manage flood waters. Big new signs are everywhere instructing you to stay left away from the weir. Between October and March Pillings Flood Lock (named after William Pillings the Lock Keeper for at least 45 years) is kept closed.

Pillings Flood Lock

A red paddle at either end of the lock is meant to be left up to help maintain the level on the cut into Loughborough, similar to those at Beeston Lock on the River Trent. The level in the cut today was a few inches lower than the river, so paddles had to be wound up and down at both ends to get us through and then the red ones left up as we exited. There are more signs on the approach from Loughborough which say not to proceed if the red light is flashing. We looked for the light, but it was nowhere to be seen, maybe it’s not been installed yet.

No water today

The next three miles of cut skirts it’s way round the eastern side of Loughborough. New housing is going up along the canal by bridge 35 where a scrap yard used to be. Being a more unban area there were more boats on the move today, three in quick succession. NB Marmite (a familiar boat from the Grand Union near Yardley Gobion) was tied up outside The Boat Inn, a sign above the water point here saying it was not in use, good job we didn’t want to top up today.

We reached the Loughborough Branch Junction, sounded the horn and turned to the north. The forecast had been for stronger winds than yesterday and as we made the turn we suddenly knew about it. We’d turned straight into a head wind, elsewhere we’d been sheltered today, but now there was no avoiding it.

For Sale

The Lock Cottage at Bishop Meadows Lock is for sale. It has always stood out sitting at the end of a lane past a line of moored boats, views across the canal and fields towards the railway. The owners have a telephone box and a red Post Box in their garden which is filled with other interesting bits and bobs. ‘Situated upon the canal banks of Loughborough this outstanding character property offers the benefits of easy access to local amenities but also the feeling of a rural lifestyle.’ We wonder if this is referring to the local sewage works being both local amenities and having a rural aroma!

Normanton on Soar

Down the lock and the river soon joins again, passing by all the wooden houses on stilts at Normanton on Soar with it’s lovely church. Here the river floods, there are more warning lights (these exist), when they flash you need to moor up against emergency dolphins in the channel, certainly heading down stream you wouldn’t want to continue as the weir would have far too much pull. Luckily today we had no need for them we just had to battle against the strong wind that was building. The pram cover needed weighing down on the roof and the river was decidedly choppy, our progress being made in a diagonal fashion.

Diagonal progress

Under Zouch Road Bridge and through the flood gates we were on a cut again. Once past the houses there was little shelter from the wind. Here was where we’ planned to moor, the wind made this a touch troublesome as it appeared to have changed direction. So instead of it assisting us by pushing us in, it was doing it’s best to get us to the other side. Luckily there are bollards so mooring was a lot easier than it could have been.

Why do they insist on coming here when it’s a weekend? Far too many walkers, even more woofers! Just a pounce away there are big holes that need investigating, they are big enough to get inside, but those bloomin woofers just kept coming! She said I had to make the most of it here, so I tried my best despite the conditions.

3 locks, 1 flood lock, 6.91 miles, 0 red lights, 1 love it or hate it boat, 0 view of the canal, 1 right, 2 boaters with tears in their eyes, 2 windy, £350k (phone box and post box included?), 2 directional wind, 6 holes, 3 bunnies, 0 Roger still, 1 Sunday roast about to go in the oven, 93rd and 94th panto performance the last for this year.