Saturday 25 October 2014

Great Haywood Junction to Foxton Locks... the final chapter 21.10.14

Great Haywood junction to Foxton, Leicestershire

Our final destination 21.10.14

We continued the next couple of miles until we got to the junction at Great Haywood where the Trent & Mersey canal meets with the Staffs & Worcs and turned a sharp right turn to head southwards down the Trent & Mersey canal.
The sign on the junction points the way... we're heading towards the Trent
Leaving the Staffs & Worcs from this bridge we turned right onto the Trent & Mersey canal
It's a popular spot here, there's plenty of boats moored up but we only had to wait for one other boat to go down the lock and we were soon down.
Leaving the first lock at Great Haywood on the T & M
We cruised past the 48hr moorings, under the old bridge and moored up on the 14 day moorings, one side of us was beautiful meadows, the river Trent and Shrugborough Hall in the distance and old woodland the other side.
Moored up at Great Haywood, opposite the mighty Shrugborough Hall
These kids are having so much fun falling out of their canoes on the river Trent
We knew we had lovely walks here, Jack had a nice time but was still covered in lumps and bites and was scratching furiously at any chance he got. He still wasn't eating and was being sick too, so we took it gently with him.
A cold and misty morning on the canal
It was cold and foggy on Monday 22nd September when we woke up. Jacks still not well, lethargic, itchy, scabby, he's scratched his face so much it's now bald on one side with raw lumps too. He ate a tiny bit of breakfast but threw it up straight away, I was really worried about him so after he reluctantly went for his walk I phoned the vets up to explain the problems were much worse than on Friday.
The vets in Rugeley, our next stop, were partners of the vets in Penkeridge so we made an appointment for the afternoon as it was a couple of hours cruise away.
Leaving our spot pretty swiftly to get to Rugeley for the vets, Shrugborough Hall in the distance
And these were the lovely views we had from our little spot on the towpath
The mist and fog had cleared and the sun was now shining warm and bright when we set off for Rugeley. Paul stayed in the boat with Jack and I cruised on to the first and only lock of the day.
Our first and only lock of the day...
After Paul set the lock we were on our way through lovely countryside till we got to the aqueduct over the river Trent, round a sharp 90 degree turn and past the houses on the high embankment overlooking the canal.
The sun came out and it was a beautiful day for cruising
'Grub's up' and all the animals followed two by two... the second alpaca is hiding behind the lady in blue!
Rugeley power station on the horizon, you can see this for miles around
We cruise over the aqueduct of the River Trent...
.... and round the sharp left hand corner, high houses up front
We pulled over opposite the houses, about a mile outside Rugeley, we had our lunch and walked into the town to find the vets in the high street.
After an injection of steroids and another of antibiotics, the vet was concerned about the sickness and loss of hunger. So he said to starve him for another 24 hours to clear anything out of his system (he hadn't eaten for three days already) and just to let him have a little water. We were to take him back the following day at the same time. We walked back to the boat with a very poorly Jack, he had no energy at all.
We pulled over here for the night, but it was so noisy we decided to move the next day
Leaving the first mooring in Rugeley, see the 'pretend' speed camera on the post in one of the gardens!
We could hear the noise of the busy road from the boat and the train line was also quite noisy too. But we thought it would be fine until a couple of dogs continuously barked and howled into the evening and well into the night! So we were really disturbed most of the night and decided we would move further into town in the morning.
Coming under Rugeley road bridge... 
After a short walk with Jack on Monday 23rd September we moved the boat to the 14 day moorings in town, busy but with one space left just the right size for us to get in. 
This is our new spot for a few days, much more peaceful here!
It was actually much quieter here, although we did have some kids the other side of the hedge lob something 'rock like' at the boat! Paul shouted at them and they ran off just as I'd got through the hedge!
We took Jack for his appointment with the vet, result was two more injections and a pile of tablets to take home! But he'd got the ok to eat and he was so hungry by then he ate his dinner up and kept it all down!
We didn't have many decent dog walks here, but we found this bit of waste land by the power station...Jack was happy!
We went shopping too at Morrisons and I wandered the streets of Rugeley window shopping, it's a lovely town full of interesting individual shops. On Thursday Paul caught the train for his second interview in Corby, said it went well. he was back by 6pm confident that he'd done his best.
Leaving Rugeley under the big railway bridge
These are somehow quite beautiful with the right colour sky in the background!
Who's this watching from the banks as we pass... Old Father Time?
Friday 27th September we left Rugeley. It was a sunny day and after Jacks walk we set off on our way. We stopped off at the water point to fill up with water and headed on to the cutting in the rocks.
We make our way through the 'once' complete tunnel....
.... narrow and rocky, with a corner at the light end!
This bit has a new(ish) bridge built on the top where the tunnel roof would have once been
This used to be a tunnel until it became too unstable and it was converted to a bridge, but the steep sides and narrow channel were still there. Paul had to get off the boat and go ahead to check nothing was coming through the other end, but all was clear and we made our way to the toilet factory at Armatige.
The woodland looks lovely with the sun shining through the trees
The toilet factory at Armitage
Onwards we went through Handsacre, the sun dancing through the trees on to the canal as we disturbed the still waters.
The canal's like glass here...
We then came to our first lock, Woodend Lock. 
Leaving the bridge after the lock...
It was very pretty here with woodland all around us. 
Heading down the long straight towards Fradley junction
Down the straight canal to Fradley, it's normally too busy here at the visitor moorings to stop off but there was a space just big enough for us to get in! So we decided there and then to stop here for the night.
And we pull over for the night, first time we've stopped here!
We set off for our walk mainly to dump rubbish in the Biffa bins at the sanitary station but also to take Jack's mind off scratching himself.
Walking round the lake at Fradley we see this picnic spot on an island....
.... and this giant dragon fly made from wood
We found a lake and some woodlands to walk round, and Paul got an email on his phone .... he'd got the job in Corby!! 
We had a celebrationary drink at the Swan when we heard Paul had got the job!
So on the way back to the boat we stopped off at The Swan and had a beer to celebrate! Later we walked Jack round some huge stubble fields and back home he ate his dinner like a goodun'.
It got pretty chilly in the evening so we lit a small fire for a couple of hours and settled in for a peaceful night.
The sign says no limit on mooring so thats why there's never a space to be had!
We woke early on Saturday 27th September, it was a cold misty morning when we went for our walk. 
Leaving the second of the two locks at Fradley
We set off down the two Fradley locks and turned sharp right onto the Coventry canal, through the swing footbridge and away we went. 
We turned right here and headed towards Coventry on the Coventry Canal
The foot swingbridge at Fradley, the Swan pub in the background
Today it seemed all the boats were out cruising the Coventry canal!
Just LOVE the colour of this boat!!
We met so many boats at such tricky bends and bridge holes, in the narrowest parts with trees overgrown onto the canal blocking our sight. 
We met loads of boats on the narrowest bits of the canal
Reeds grew high on both sides, obviously not been chopped down this year! The sun came out hot and bright, but in the shade of the trees it was chilly.
Reeds grow so high they obscure the bridge holes
Onwards we went past Streehay Wharf and a boat that had obviously been filling with diesel decided to pull out right in front of us! Full revs in reverse we escaped a clash by inches! Today is manic boat day!
We got past this silly woman after nearly hitting into her boat when she pulled out in front of us!
Onwards we went through Huddlesford, past the Lichfield Arm and through the lovely town of Whittington.
Boats moored everywhere, including this one on the left, moored stupidly opposite the row of permanent moorers!
The houses and gardens are all lovely here in Whittington, still would prefer what we've got tho!
Leaving Whittington, the canal gets narrow again
Through narrow reedy canal until we got to the beautiful Hopwas Hill Woods, straight and tree lined, this is where signs tell you that it's a military firing range and not to enter the woods.
Coming into Hopwas Hill Woods
Keep Out signs everywhere, but it's no longer used as a firing range so now its open to the public
This beautiful old bridge was the way in to the woods
But this was stopped a while ago and now it's open to the public. We always wanted to stop here and now we could! So we pulled over after the woodlands just before the 48hr moorings and it was still only 11.30am.
We found a lovely mooring just after the bridge, its lighter here and we should get a telly signal!
As we were having our lunch we heard a "helloooooo, any one in?" It was nb Myfanwy from the Wigan flight! We'd shared the notorious 21 locks in Wigan with two lovely people and they were on their way back to their marina in Weedon on the Grand Union.
And off we went to explore....
We found some lovely areas of the woodland, this comes right down to the canal
On top of the world, we left the woods and were out in open countryside able to see for miles!
Paul looking a bit worried at the signs... no longer used as a firing range, you'll be fine!
After a good old catch up they went on their way, leaving us for our walk in the woods which was wonderful. There were paths and clearings and hills and valleys. We had a lovely time, so did Jack!
This was such a sickening sight, obviously someone had 'darted' this duck, but it swam away before we could do anything for it. 
Boat movement had eventually slowed down and all the Saturday afternoon walkers had gone home, we had a lovely peaceful night.
Saw this on the way out of Hopwas.... quite funny I thought!
Sunday 28th September was another lovely day. After another walk in the woods we set off in glorious sunshine along the twisty narrow canal out of Hopwas and on to Fazeley.
... and this one's for you Jenny! It's yours!!
We pulled up by the really busy A5 road bridge and tied up. We knew there was a pet food shop about half a mile away over wasteland and needed some shopping from Sainsburys. so off we trudged, trolley dragging behind us. We got Jacks food and some cake for our friends who were visiting us tomorrow and headed back to the boat. We didn't really want to leave Jack longer than we had to as he was still scratching his hair out!
Leaving the busy road bridge where we moored up to find the Pets at Home shop
An hour later and we were off again down the canal, past the newly done up area of the junction of the Birmingham & Fazeley canal and onto Tamworth.
Still working on this junction, but it looks so much nicer than last year! Its now modern and bright and used to be derelict and old and falling down! The kingfisher and robin painted on the wall in the background were shown in my previoius blog.
Still on our way South, this sign is at the Birmingham & Fazeley junction, that was earlier this year for us!
Wouldn't mind a butler like this one, painted on the side of this narrowboat
We head up the two Tamworth Locks, there's a boat coming down too
You don't get gardens this long in modern council houses like you did in the old ones... room for two more here!
There's hardly any boats about today and we soon came to Alvecote and the lovely Pooley Fields Nature Reserve.
We stopped for lunch at the beautiful Pooley Fields Nature Reserve....

.... and climbed the highest hill to look down on the M42 motorway and the canal that goes under it
We pulled over for lunch and a quick walk around the woodlands and soon were off again in the sunshine through Polesworth and onto Bradley Green.
Leaving the woodlands we spot this group of cows huddled up in one corner of a huge field....
.... and here's why, their mate has made it to the garden next door, just the other side of the fence!
Tight corners and overgrown trees make this tricky to see around the corners
And the trees at this bridge hole don't help either! 
After a quick stop off at the rubbish point we went on to the bottom of the Atherstone 11 lock flight. We'd had quite a long day and were ready to stop, there were no other boats moored up here so we had the place to ourselves!
We moored up at the bottom of Atherstone 11 locks... quiet here with no other boats waiting
After our walk around familiar fields we sat out in the lovely sunshine until the evening. It was quiet here, we had a peaceful night.
Water like glass as the sun sets looking back down the canal
On Monday 29th September it was grey and dull. We'd got 11 locks to do immediatly so Paul took Jack and went to set the first lock.
Leaving the first of 11 locks... Paul and Jack are up ahead while I close the gates behind me
We find help going up the last 5 locks, Jack's a happy boy now! It lets him off the hook!
The lock fills up, 'it's high up here' looking back down the canal
Leaving the last of the 11 locks and it's still only 10am!
Most of the locks were full and against us but we made our way up the flight quickly; help came from a lock keeper for the last five locks and by 10am we'd done them all!
Mancetter, this was our view last year when we moored up here!
We cruised on out of Atherstone and into the lovely countryside of Mancetter and in another couple of miles we had arrived at Harts Hill, one of our favourite mooring spots and our meeting place with Ann Marie and Dave from nb Legend.
Dave and Ann-Marie, eating cake and sarnies out on the towpath.... such a lovely couple!
By 1.30 two fine figures came strolling down the towpath, arms laiden with cakes! We sat out on the towpath in the sunshine and ate sandwiches and cake! After a great catch up we all went for a lovely walk in Harts Hill Country Park and followed that with a good pub meal in The Anchor.
We walked high up Harts Hill, what a view!
.... and then pigged out at the Anchor for our evening meal!

Boats all in a line with the sun rising moored up at Harts Hill
The chatting and laughter only stopped when our friends left to go back to their boat, we'd had a great day with great people and hope to see them again real soon. Love them to bits!
The next morning it was cold and grey. After a lovely walk in the woods and over grassy meadows we set off for our days cruise. It was a good day, we went on to Nuneaton, past all the allotments that came down to the edge of the canal.
Allotments, allotments, allotments line the canal on the off side, most are overgrown and unloved though
This was pretty, crystals hanging in a tree by the canal. When the sun shines I bet they sparkle!

This boat sunk only a couple of weeks ago, you can see the water line on the bottom of the windows. All pumped out now and leaning over the other way! My guess is that there's still water in there!
Charity Dock at Bedworth....not like any other dock on the canal
This hasn't been used as a diesel tank for a while... that makes it about 33 pence a litre!
Full of old tat... I would love to go rumaging around here tho!
Married manikins... 
.... and a child manikin climbs this climbing frame to peer over the wall!
We were soon out into the countryside again, through Bedworth and arrived at Hawksbury junction where the North Oxford meets the Coventry canal.
Hawksbury Junction.... we go under this bridge and do a 180 degree turn back onto ourselves to head up the N Oxford
We've left Atherstone and are heading towards Rugby now...
I dropped Paul and Jack off just before doing the 180 degree turn under the bridge and into the first lock, Sutton Stop Lock, on the North Oxford.
Going up the Sutton Stop Lock on the North Oxford canal
This was all of about a foot deep, so within minutes we were on our way again but this time on the North Oxford Canal.
Paul's maggot stop... the yellowish building is a fishing tackle shop but you wouldn't know it by looking at it!
Three miles later, after a brief stop off for maggots at the fishing tackle shop on the way, we went on to Ansty.
We'd moored here several times before and knew the dog walks were ok, and it was now 2pm and we were ready to stop!
The 'Permit Holders Only' part of this sign has gone missing so anyone can moor here now
We pulled into the once 'permit holders only' moorings which had now changed to visitor moorings and tied up. After lunch we went out with Jack and the once familiar empty fields were now full of gipsy ponies. Inquisitive foals and protective mums, all looking for food, wondering what Jack was! So we left there and found some stubble fields where he could run with no bother from anybody or anything!
The mooring spots were all taken when we got back, we settled in for the evening in our lovely quiet spot.
Leaving the mooring at Ansty... it's another chilly but bright day at the moment
Wednesday October 1st and it was a sunny but chilly day. We set off up the canal, Paul and Jack walking along the towpath, me on the boat.
Paul walkes Jack (invisible today) up the newly laid towpath... a tiny section in a complete bog!
Long straight sections of the canal make it easy to see oncoming boats, that makes a change!
We go under the M6 motorway bridge, the train line right next to the canal for quite a way now
I picked them up a couple of miles later and we went on under the huge M6 bridge, the train line adjacent to the canal most of the way.
Rose Narrowboats all waiting in line for someone to hire them, but its out of season now, so they sit and wait!
Onwards past Rose Narrowboats and Paul hopped off the boat to let me through the swing footbridge.
All Oaks Wood, this is a beautiful stretch of the canal
We cruised past the beautiful woodlands of All Oaks Wood, the canal changes from long straight bits to twisty narrow bits for a while now until we reached Newbold Tunnel, just outside Rugby.
Straight is the way today, you can see right up the canal from under this old bridge
Into Newbold tunnel where only one light remains lit. 4 years ago the whole tunnel was lit by different colour lights
Through the once beautifully lit tunnel we went (there were different coloured lights all along the tunnel but now only one light remains working) and pulled over at the water point in Newbold. After filling with water and dumping our rubbish we went on another hundred yards and moored up at the 48 hr moorings.
Moored up in a familiar spot at Newbold on the 48 hour moorings
We knew this area well and liked it here. The pub, The Barley Mow, takes in boaters washing so we dropped off a couple of bags to be washed and dried, we'd pick them up in the evening.
After shopping in the Co-op and walking Jack we went out for a slap up meal in the pub, taking our clean and dry washing home with us! Brilliant place this!
'Cheers' we head off for our evening meal in the Barley Mow to celebrate Paul's new job
On Thursday 2nd October we set off after our Jack walk and headed for Rugby. We cruised slowly past rows of moored boats, past the dredger, that didn't hold us up, and weaved our way through the north side of Rugby.
The first signs of dredging taking place, this old skip barge is used to ferry all the mud away from the sides...
Aha, we could have to wait here as it becomes more evident there's something going on up ahead...
And here's the dredger, on the side, letting us go straight past him, no hassle, no wait!
Once out of Rugby the sun had come out, there want a ripple on the water, it was a lovely day. a few miles later we arrived at Hillmorton Locks.
There's plenty going on here at Hillmorton Locks as a boat goes into the first of three locks
There's three locks to go up here, all single locks but set in pairs. The C&RT were doing maintenance here, closing one of each of the pairs of locks, but still leaving the other lock in use.
Looking up ahead its busy here with CaRT workers fixing the top lock
As this boat leaves the second lock its my turn to get in after the water has been let out
We had to wait for the boat in front to go up the lock, then it was our turn. We were soon up and Paul and Jack went to the next lock to get that ready while I left the first lock. As I entered the second lock a boat pulled up behind us, waiting their turn.
Shouting and screaming came from the guy in blue as his wife tumbled head first into the canal... 
Then I heard loads of shouting and screaming and swearing, turned around to see a lady in the water splashing about, her husband panicking on the back of the boat trying to slow it down so it didn't go over the top of her.
Paul heaves her up by her legs as the two old geezers in the caps look on unable to help
Paul immediatly realised what was going on, he'd seen the woman fall in the canal and ran down to help drag her out the water.
She was soon out, wringing wet and very cold. She'd lost her glasses in the canal but luckily other than that there was no damage done, just a bit shocked. Needless to say they didn't come up the locks behind us, I think a sugary cup of tea and a hot shower was what was needed here. But Paul felt he'd saved a damsel in distress anyway!
Leaving the second lock and waiting till the water's emptied in the third lock (on the left)
And finally we're up the top, work boats everywhere, the blue boat goes into the lock I've just left
We were soon up that lock and waited for a boat to leave the last lock and then we were in. I felt a little twang on the back gates as the water came in giving me a bit of a shock, the back fender had caught on the back gates and the chain had broken causing the back fender to ping off on one side! But no damage done that a couple of cable ties couldn't fix, we were soon outta there and on our way again.
A bridge... and a bridge.... and up ahead another bridge
Lovely countryside as we head on towards Braunston
We cruised on through open countryside, long straight bits and twisty turny bits, cows and sheep grazing in the grassy meadows. The sun was warm and the boat purred as we chugged through the calm waters. 6.5 miles later we arrived at bridge 89 in Braunston, opposite the church meadow, just where we wanted to be.
Bridge 88, we've only got one more to go, and there's Braunston Church in the distance.... nearly there!
Moored up in Braunston, one of our favourite places ever!
The view from our window.... and the sun's come out to play too!
It was busy here, we'd got the last space. After our lunch we headed off to familiar meadows with Jack, he seemed to know where we were and we all loved it here!
Jack's back in his familiar meadow... he loves it here so much!
We stayed here for the weekend, on Friday we went to Midland Chandlers for their Freaky Friday 20 percent off sale and had visitors from our last mooring in Woodford, Roger and Steve. It was great to catch up with all the news!
Saturday was grey and miserable, but it didn't matter, we loved it here and no amount of bad weather could spoil it for us!
It's a cold and misty morning but it looks kinda eerie!
This isn't 'smoke on the water'.... 
Leaving our little spot opposite the church... it's still busy with boats here
Sunday 5th October we set off again, it was a misty frosty morning, peaceful and quiet. We filled up with water set off for the 6 Braunston locks and were there by 8.40am.
View of Braunston, we enjoyed many weeks moored here over the winter
Up ahead is the first of 6 wide Braunston locks, the mist lays still on the water up ahead
The little Boat shop on the first of the Braunston Locks
We went into the first one alone and as we set off for the next one there was a shout from a moored boat... people wanted to share the locks with us! Their names were Veronica and Peter, the dog was Buster and their boat was called Mistletoe.
Narrowboat Mistletoe and Buster the dog make their way into the lock with us
They were very posh, well spoken, and they wanted to share with us! We chatted on our way up the locks and soon we had done them all, Peter and I on the boats and Veronica and Paul on the locks. We got to the top in no time at all, said our goodbyes and we set off towards Braunston tunnel.
Big open mouth of Braunston tunnel.... 
We were soon out of the long tunnel, only meeting one boat inside the tunnel.
Out of the tunnel and into the cutting heading towards Norton Junction
Out into daylight again we made our way the couple of miles to Norton junction where the Leicester Line of the Grand Union canal joins.
And this is Norton Junction, we need to turn sharp left....
.... made it, we go under the footbridge of the Grand Union Leicester Line....
... and here it is, the sign proves it!!!
Here we did a sharp left turn and under the little footbridge and we were heading north again towards our final destination.
Another neglected part of the canal network as trees are let to take over the canal here
We only went a few miles and we'd got to the Watford flight of 7 locks including a staircase flight of 4 .
Arriving at the bottom of the Watford Locks, a flight of 2 locks, then 4 in a staircase and then another, 7 in total
After speaking with the lock keeper we were able to go straight in following another boat up. It took us 50 minutes to do all 7 locks, these are easy locks for both me on the boat and Paul on the locks.
We've done two locks, now for the staircase!
Making progress up the staircase locks....
.... and we've got to the top!
And it's a lovely view from up here!
At the top we immediatley go under the M1 motorway bridge and were soon back out into lovely rural countryside.
Cruising past Watford country park, leaves on these horse chestnut trees already brown from the autumn
Crick bridge, followed by Crick tunnel just around the corner
Soon we'd got to Crick tunnel, slightly shorter than Braunston tunnel but wetter, so out came the brolley! We didn't meet any boats coming towards us in the tunnel making it easier to keep to the centre.
Leaving the tunnel we cruise past The Moorings, a lovely little cafe by the side of the canal
Out the tunnel and onwards past Crick marina, out into beautiful fields and not much else! The canal loops around several hills here as it follows the contours, but that's great for us as it means there's no locks to do!
Oooooh its so beautiful here, the canal is as still as a pond today... not a breath...
Crack Hill, we stayed here last year too! We've got lovely open countryside all around us now
Just around the corner is where we find our spot for the night, but we managed to explore these woodlands too!
We'd gone 15 miles, up 13 locks and through two tunnels today, so by now we were looking for somewhere to stop for the night. It was 3pm and getting cold. We pulled over just by bridge 27, near to nothing and no one! A very quiet and remote spot beside woods and fields, in amongst the reeds!
.... and this is where we ended up, just around the corner!
After our dog walk we settled in to a lovely log fire, warm and peaceful!
Monday we sat tight out of the wind and horizontal rain. Hugh and Wendy, Paul's brother and sister-in-law, came to visit and we had warming soup and bread for lunch. We went out with Jack in a dry spell, but the rain soon caught us out!
Leaving our little spot, so quiet and peaceful, loved it here!
Tuesday 7th October we went wood hunting and came back laiden with some great fire wood to chop up. It was still windy, cold and rainy but we needed to make some progress. We'd set off by 10am, wrapped up for the weather.
High reeds first....
... trees nearly touch overhead of us, oh I hope there's nothing coming!
Aha! I see the canal again! I knew it must be there somewhere in amongst all this overgrowth!
The canal was narrow and overgrown and reeds were high and in the way! We only saw a couple of boats today, one at a tight bridge hole. Sounding their horn as they approached meant I had time to put it in reverse and lighten and bump! But somehow we just managed to avoid a collision, and with a cheery wave we both went on our way.
We narrowly missed having a bit of a 'ding' with this boat, but all was good and we both went on our way
We'd only gone 5 miles but in the nasty weather that was enough! We pulled over by bridge 40 in a cosy sheltered bit of towpath in amongst a gap in the reeds only big enough for one boat.
Another beautiful little spot, secluded and remote, just how we like it!
This is us in our secluded little spot, in the middle of the jungle it would seem!
Out of the wind and rain we lit the fire and warmed up with mugs of soup. We found great walks across the fields to Welford and back and Jack had a great scurry about.
Autumns really showing its little face now, leaves lay on the top of the water like a blanket
The weather didn't get any better for Wednesday. We left in the rain and the brolley stayed up most of the time! 
Just about to enter Husbands Bosworth tunnel

We made our way to our last tunnel of the trip, Husbands Bosworth tunnel. Strangely enough today it was dryer in the tunnel than outside, but as soon as we were back out in the open the heavens opened and heavy rain was upon us again.
Under the brolly, that was the idea for the day's cruising today as it lashed it down with rain...
.... and the rain still kept coming
.... somewhere the sun's out, it must be, but I'm dammed if I can see it! Arriving at Laughton Hills
We went on to Laughton Hills, a favourite spot of ours, and moored up between bridges 51 & 52. Once we'd got warm and dried out in the boat the sun came out and the rain went! Its quiet here on the canals now, only a couple of boats moving about; we had lovely walks and were warm and toasty and as the weather tomorrow was set to be the same, we stayed here an extra day.
The sky was mental, this was the afternoon! It went all dark and then it was like a huge fire on the horizon...
... and just after it brightened up the sky went even more mental!
Moored up at Laughton Hills
.... looking like autumn has got to us here!
It also gave us a chance to go and collect the car from MK after a very kind offer of a lift from Hugh.
It was a beautiful day when we left Laughton Hills...
.... the sun was shining and it was a completely different day to yesterday
Friday 10th October and we were on the move again. It was a cold morning but the sun was out. We slowly made our way the 2.5 miles to Foxton, firstly because it was such a lovely day for cruising but also we both knew this was going to be the last bit of our 19 month cruise; it was soon coming to an end.
After an hour we were at the top of Foxton locks and tied up the boat. As the car was there already we went off and got some much needed shopping from Market Harborough.
Over the last few days our batteries had got steadily worse, loosing charge and not having enough power to have the fridge on overnight or the fire going (power is needed for the water pump for the rads). The only solution was to invest in 4 new ones, so we went off to MH and £300 later and a good electrician (know any?) we were back up and running again.
Leaving Foxton above the locks with Maff and Jo on board
Arriving at the Top Lock we were able to go straight in...
My brothers turn to visit today, Maff and Jo met us at the top of the locks for the journey down the 10 Foxton locks. It's two staircases, 5 locks in each with a passing point in the middle. We set off after sheltering in the boat out of the rain, by now it was 12 midday.
... and off we go, straight in... Maff leans on the gate, and waits till I go down...
We didn't have to wait at the locks, after Paul had gone to find the lock keeper he said we can go straight down, there were no other boats waiting to come up or go down. Jo was chief looker afterer of the four legged variety (only dogs on leads were allowed much to Jacks dismay), I was in charge of the boat, Paul was in charge of the lock paddles and one gate while Maff only had to open and close one gate. We made great progress going down even with Maff forgetting to shut the gate behind me on more than one occasion!
Gongoozlers taking photos, and Maff in a dream!
We'd just come down the first five, five more to go....
Jack has to be on a lead here to his discust.... but he's still trying to get away but Jo's in charge
The Foxton Locks Inn where we had lunch... Paul and Jo and a lockie make conversation as the boat goes slowly down
.... and we've made it, we're at the bottom!
Leaving the bottom lock I look back to see the lonely figure of a man on the bridge... spooky!
With lots of people about (we are a tourist attraction after all) all taking photos and asking questions and generally interested in the way locks work, we were at the bottom  by 1 pm and had moored up around the corner on the 48 hr moorings through the bridge.
Maff and Jo make their way over the bridge as we more up just through here on the towpath
A rainbow makes another appearance as the sun's out somewhere.... but not here!
That was the last set of locks done of our great voyage of discovery so we head off straight to The Foxton Locks pub for a well earned celebrationary lunch-time meal. It was great food with great company, we'll come here again!
Looking down from the top of the flight over lovely countryside... these are now our dog walking fields!
Looking towards the top of Foxton Locks... the first five anyway
It's a lovely misty morning when we walk Jack along the towpath to the fields...
We'd had a really lovely day with my big brother and his wife and after a walk back up the locks to wave them off we wander the fields discovering some lovely walks for Jack.
We stayed here in Foxton overnight and the next day we made our way the short distance to Debdale Wharf. 
Heading out to Debdale
... and a familiar sight, reeds overgrown on the towpath side of the canal

We cruised past to suss out the moorings and the marina that had been booked to crane the boat out and black the bottom and a couple of miles on we turned around and headed back and tied up right outside.
And who should come past us but Ricky and Mo and of course Poppy, on nb Djinni
Moored up waiting to go into the dock, but it wasn't to be this year because of very bad weather...
Here we stayed overnight, ready for our crane out tomorrow.
What a lovely sight as the sun set behind the boat
But it wasn't to be .... The weather was so bad on Monday 13th October that the guys in the marina suggested it might not be a good idea getting the boat out as strong winds and heavy rain was forecast for the following three days. We needed it to be dry so the black bitumen would go off before it was put back in the water.
This should have been a crane full of our boat, but we cruised away with our new appointment booked for April
So after much deliberation it was decided to make a date for early spring.
We stayed outside the marina for the rest of the day as the weather was terrible, but moved back to Foxton Wednesday 15th October.
Back in Foxton below the locks
We're now in place for the winter... along with other fellow boaters above the Foxton Locks
This is where were staying for the winter, we've got a lovely little spot here on the towpath, it's good commuting distance for Paul to travel to work, there's a great community of boaters and a proper boaters pub! We've got access to water, toilet dump, rubbish and laundrette. We have found a space to park the car off the road, there's a little shop for all your basic needs and a great foody pub too.
Our friends Ian and Irene and nb Free Spirit who we met on the Rochdale canal cruised on by, but not without stopping for a cuppa tea and a great catch up with all the latest news!
Friends we'll remember forever, always welcomed with open arms!
If anybody would like to come and visit us here at Foxton we will welcome you with open arms, always a pleasure to see family, old friends and new.

It's with great sadness that this is where our story ends....

We've had the best time ever in our 19 months of cruising, we've seen some amazing and breath taking sights, the most beautiful countryside and lovely woodlands we've ever seen, we've traveled to city's to sample the interesting urban city life, been places that we never knew existed, and places we don't ever want to be in again!
We've met some lovely, lovely people along the way, most whom were still in touch with and know we've got friends for life. There's a truly wonderful community of fellow boat folk out here, interesting, individual, but most of all very friendly and always helpful. We've all got our different lives but all share the same lifestyle. We'll meet up again somewhere, someday, and greet each other like it was only yesterday we last saw each other.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our travels. It was lovely sharing it with you, we feel honoured and extremely lucky to know and live this truly wonderful life.

But for now we must work ......
Signing off xxxxxxx

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