Leicester Ring Day 9, Part A: Swarkestone to Sawley Locks

Day 9 turned into a marathon, having made a late start. We will give up declaring our plans for the next day at the end of each blog entry, because the plans keep on changing! The reasons are largely beyond our control, so we just go with the flow.

The day began on the T&M and has ended at Kegworth (well, Zouch, if you count this morning’s short trip), well down the River Soar. We took a lot of photos, and the day was packed with incidents, so I am going to divide the blog into two entries, Part A taking us to Sawley Locks and Part B covering the remainder of the journey. In total there were 9 massive locks! We underestimated the scale of these, as you shall see…

The day began quietly enough. The local ducklings came by to see if we had any spare breakfast (of course we did):


The locks on this part of canal are set in magnificent countryside:

This nice bench was located by one rather remote lock:


The canal in these parts feels very natural, and occasionally presents navigational challenges:


We had thought we would only travel to Shardlow, which was a couple of hours away and only a few locks to do. Our change of plan meant going beyond that but, even so, we did enjoy passing through. It’s got such a strong sense of canal heritage, but modern too. Here’s a selection of shots:

This old phone box seemed to sum up the attitude to the past:


Here were some quirky boat names:


We were impressed by this chap, who has built an extensive narrow gauge railway in his back garden:


All in all, Shardlow is the kind of place where we would like to own a house, were it not for the fact that we don’t want a house!

Once past Shardlow, we started to encounter rivers. River cruising is fairly new to us, our only previous encounter being one hour on the Thames a decade ago, when we quickly turned round and raced back to the safety of the Oxford Canal! This time, we had no choice but to go on the adventure…

The further we travelled, the more open the waters became, until we reached Sawley Marina and the amazing (to us narrowboaters, anyway) Sawley Locks. Here are a couple of shots which really fail to give a picture of the full scale of the marina, which is full of ‘plastic’ boats and even some yachts that are clearly designed to go to sea.

The locks flummoxed us at first. There are two of them, and no obvious indication of how to operate them. There was nobody around apart from a passer-by, who was able to offer some help. It turns out they are operated mechanically and require a BW key. Here is the control panel:


And a close-up…


This indicator shows the state of the paddles in each lock as they open and close:


We would have liked to use the Elsan point, but it turned out to be quite inaccessible once we had gone through the lock, and there was no way to reach it before going through, so we moved on, leaving the locks behind us.


And these were the rickety steps which Louise had to climb down to rejoin ‘Froth’ after operating the locks!


Part B will follow shortly…



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