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The Odyssey 2011: Day 36

Posted by indigodream on 25 August, 2011

Kegworth to Loughborough

Saturday 30th July

Moorings by Devil's Elbow....

We had a quiet night on the moorings (apart from the odd passing plane :-)) and woke to a bright morning. We were better disposed towards the river today but as the day progressed the world and his boat came out to play, making this the busiest stretch of water we’ve ever cruised (with the arguable exception of Braunston). There was a multitude of weekend cruisers and day boats on the water, mainly fuelled by alcohol, which made for cheerful but erratic locking. We drove straight into the first lock of the day – Zouch Lock, which we shared with another narrowboat. Thereafter there were queues at every lock.

We’d set off early by our standards and got to Zouch by around 10am – we were surprised to see that there were lots of mooring spaces available – maybe we should have come up and checked last night. However, it’s possible that locals who know how busy this stretch gets may have been on the move early to beat the rush.

The calm before the boats......

Loughborough lock was heaving with boats – we eventually shared the lock with two cruisers out for the weekend. One skipper told me “we’re new to this” as he hastened to kick the boat forward when the back fender got stuck in the lock gate – I’m amazed he didn’t catch his foot as well; his boat rocked alarmingly but the lady of the boat, drinking an alcopop and reading ‘Hello’ magazine, didn’t even look up! A day boat above the lock, crewed by drunken pirates, almost lost a member of their crew when she slipped and fell inside the boat, banging the back of her head nastily on the steel side – we thought she’d broken her neck. Great hilarity ensued – even though said crew member was in tears – she seemed to be fine which just shows the power of alcohol as a restorative 🙂

It was only a few weary miles to our destination in Loughborough but we were glad to moor up. We did have a little exploration of Loughborough Wharf/Basin which has handy services and mooring pontoons to accommodate at least half a dozen narrowboats. But they are only short-term moorings and we needed to leave Indigo Dream for a week so we winded and went back to the main canal. We moored just after the turn, a few boat lengths past the junction. This spot was recommended by the crew of Matilda Rose and was perfect for us – it’s within walking distance of the shops (towards the basin) and the station (just off bridge 38 – Nottingham Road Bridge) and there’s weekend parking in the adjacent industrial estate which made it easy to on/off-load the boat. The canal wall slopes a bit so the edge of the baseplate ground a little on the stones – reminiscent of the Shroppie shelf but nowhere near as bad! There is mooring further along by the pub (bridge 39), but it’s not as quiet or dog-friendly, being directly flanked by a road.

We’d moored up at lunchtime so we ate then went about various chores – I took the train back to Shireoaks to get the car and Richard painted the remaining gunwhale. The afternoon had some entertainment for both of us…..

Loughborough basin...

I got to see the famous crooked spire at Chesterfield and then got stuck in Sheffield train station for an hour because of the parlous state of their information systems – human and computerised! I got to enjoy a glimpse of the Chesterfield Canal – bright green with algae in the strong sunshine – the station is within easy walking distance of the marina. I asked some fishermen how many boats they’d seen – none had passed them that day….

By contrast, Richard got to watch the endless procession of boats travelling through Loughborough as he settled down to paint the gunwhales. While he was painting, a localised ‘tornado’ sprang up – enough to generate a foot-high waterspout and to whisk the adjacent boat’s umbrella high into the sky and deposit it on the main road several hundred yards awy  on the  opposites side of the canal. Sadly it also plastered some grass cuttings onto his wet paint! The gunwhales still looked very fine though!

With my unwelcome stop in Sheffield, it was gone 6pm by the time I got back to the boat. We weren’t sure whether to drive home straight away so that we’d have a full day at home on Sunday or whether to stay over and have a more relaxed time. We dithered before finally deciding to stay the night. We went out in search of food and found a range of restaurants at Loughborough Wharf and in the street beyond. We decided to eat at Moomba – an Autralian restaurant, though we declined the kangaroo and emu burgers in favour of more conventional meats! It was an impressive meal, though my burger (beef and lamb) was undercooked – I sent it back and I’m not convinced that the chef actually re-cooked it as it came back in much the same state. It was a shame because we overall we really liked the service and atmosphere.

We had a quiet night on the mooring – if it hadn’t been recommended to us we might have doubted the spot, but it was perfectly peaceful.

Sunday 31st July

Would you believe it – a year ago this weekend we were moored up in Limehouse basin and getting ready to drive to Ipswich to introduce Lou and Blue to our foster boy Lynx. We’ve had a year full of interest since that momentous day – the time has passed in the blink of an eye, yet it feels as if Lynx has been with us forever!

We packed the boat up and got away mid-morning. I was looking forward to seeing cousin Denise and family, who’d been using our house as a holiday base for the week. Sadly her husband Wyn had been called back to Wales to look after his ailing father but Denise and Rhodri were still with us. We had a merry homecoming and I press-ganged Denise into picking blackberries – if Wyn had been here the ladders would have come out and I’d have had them picking plums as well! It’s so hard for poor welsh immigrants being forced into labour……

Photoblog:

"Mardi Gras" - unique day boat...

The cow on the left fell into the river with a great splash just after we passed! She made it out again though....

Flood control - hard to believe that this benign river can quickly become fierce after heavy rain...

Reflections....

You'd have to be desperate to moor there....

The river gets deceptively narrow in places - in places the navigable channel is narrower than the inviting waters that lead to the weirs!

Busy busy.....

And the queue above the lock...

Huge AstraZeneca plant just outside Loughborough - it's due to close with, I imagine, a tremendous loss of jobs...

It's a wonder that day boats don't capsize....

Johny Depp has a lot to answer for....

Half a house...?

This day boat looks a bit low at the back ....

Good moorings in Loughborough...

See the tiny red dot in the top left of the photo - that's how high the 'mini tornado' took our neighbour's umbrella!

Colorful buildings around Loughborough Basin - there's obviously more development to come at the far end of the basin....

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