Market Harborough to Crick Marina: 23½ miles, 1 tunnel, 10 locks, 2 swing bridges

: “Luuvely day for ducks…!”, a Union Wharf maintenance worker had observed somewhat sardonically on Deluge Day in Market Harborough. His colleague, eyeing up the two umbrellas being carried by the Captain and Boatwif, had sighed and said: “Could do with one of those…!”

So the next morning a dry day and sunshine proved a welcome change. The boat was serviced before chugging away from the terminus of the Market Harborough Arm back towards Foxton.

Out, past the sharpest cut, smartest privet hedge seen anywhere.

Cleddau quickly became a confetti-strewn vessel again when a nervous oncoming boat slowed to a stop before finally crawling through a narrowed gap (an old swing bridge?)   The Captain, who had been prepared to slide around the oncoming boat, instead had to spend time in the offside willows, utilising a barge pole to push the stern back into deep enough water.

Onward, past expensive properties with expansive gardens, past the new houses, and the bungalow where piling has been installed to protect its narrow garden.

A dayboat carrying a sailor crew was being pursued by “the pirates” – or so it was claimed.

Then, further along, there was this boat moored up. Who was ‘Bartholomew Roberts’? Well, well, a seriously successful pirate it transpires. See here:

Onwards, to reach Foxton Locks at about lunchtime. What was that lovely sound? Smooth light jazz was being played in the conservatory of the Foxton Locks Inn.  (The pub’s website indicates a regular event of Jazz Fridays.) How pleasant it would have been to float about awhile at the bottom of the locks and listen to such lovely sound.

But it was not to be as Cleddau was waved into the emptied bottom chamber to start her ascent. Sometimes you’re glad of any help you can get, whether it’s a trained lock keeper – or a toddler learning how to push a lock gate! 

Up the first staircase of five locks to wait at the passing point for two down coming boats. Water supply surged from a side pond ahead and there was a brief battle with the turbulent water to pull Cleddau into the side to wait for the descending boats. Crew duties were swapped at the halfway point and Cleddau climbed the rest of the hill under the watchful eye of an Australian lady filming the whole process…

Heritage is apparent at Foxton. To leave Foxton without viewing the remains of the inclined plane* that once carried boats within tanks of water up and down the slope would be an oversight indeed.  In the days of colder winters up to 15 men would rock an icebreaker boat from side to  side to break up the ice.

Foxton to Husband’s Bosworth is a distance of about 5 miles; ask a young child to draw a countryside scene of hills and trees and this is what it might look like. Imagine a few nursery rhyme characters – surely, here’s Baa, baa black sheep, in the same flock as a little lamb that Mary had The young cattle in a field were happily grazing together, though making its way very slowly and apparently painfully towards them was one other creature (was he the cow who jumped over the moon?)  Moored up beside the towpath was a small pea green boat and butty, crewed supposedly by an owl and a pussy cat…   Doesn’t this quiet pastoral landscape just lend itself to childhood nostalgia…

Through Husband’s Bosworth Tunnel, caution needed at the western exit. An offside uprooted tree had been reported but it was possible to weave round it carefully.

Nb Silver Fox was still moored at North Kilworth Wharf and (while mentioning boats seen) the next day there was Hrafn (Braidbar Number 208, the name Hrafn meaning Raven in Old Norse) and IWatt (all electric boat, met on the Great Ouse at St Neots and Bedford in 2022).

In glorious weather on Sunday Cleddau did the last few miles back to Crick. The shepherd’s hut at Yelvertoft has been moved away from the hedge  and it’s a thrill to see the Ferguson tractor in the barn nearby.

There was a different view on the approach to Crick Marina, a pedestrian bridge installed across the canal ready for the Show. Inside the marina a couple of wide beam boats had already arrived, lifted in by crane presumably.  Cleddau was topped up with fuel (and the Welford fuel contamination mystery potentially solved.) “What often happens,” the marina manager said, “is that the rubber seal around the filler cap splits or falls away.” The Captain checked the filler cap – no rubber seal – maybe that’s how rainwater had driven into the tank over the winter…  Then it was a turn around in the marina (not aided by a pesky wind) to re-join the canal and take the next left into Crick’s smaller basin for a temporary mooring during the  the Show. It was Sunday: five days to go before the Show opens marquees and tents had been put up in the big field,     frameworks for exhibitor stands were being erected   and a cache of signs was ready for positioning…

May the weather be good in Northamptonshire this coming bank holiday weekend!

TRIP TOTALS: Crick – Market Harborough – Crick: 47 miles, 2 tunnel passages, 20 locks, 4 swing bridges

 *Foxton Inclined Plane operated for about ten years between 1900 and 1910.

*2024 Monkton Moments* (Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections) – now 5

  • From a boater who’d lived in St David’s: “So you’re a Pembroke Dock boy…?!”


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6 Responses

  1. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    A lovely doddle despite the rain, and I love the references to nursery rhymes. Clever! I cannot wait to read about the Crick show from your points of view.
    Biggs bug hugs to you both,
    Love Jaq xxx

    • Boatwif says:

      Hi Jaq,
      Good to hear from you.
      Will be on the spot, very close to the action at Crick… It will be a novelty , but hopefully one not too loud!
      Sue /Boatwif

  2. Beware the Bartholomew Roberts crew wear little clothing when it is warm.
    Pea Green is a trading boat run by the lovely Kay who moors at Welford. She used to cruise the summer months trading her canal ware with Monty her ginger cat. Sadly he passed away a few months ago.

    • Boatwif says:

      Hi Pip,
      There were no crew visible, (dressed or undressed!) on the Bartholomew Roberts as we passed. The little Pea Green boat had a butty attached to the bow and there was a lady painting the front panel of it.
      Sue /Boatwif

  3. David says:

    The link to Bartholomew Roberts was ineffective for me.

    • Boatwif says:

      Thanks for the message; the link is working now. On a personal note I was intrigued to discover that he was Pembrokeshire born and bred!

      Sue /Boatwif

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