Friars Mill, Leicester to Kilby Bridge : 8½ miles, 12 locks

By the time the Cleddau crew reached Leicester they were sorely in need of a day off …! The boat was safely tied up beneath the Unite the Union regional offices at Friars Mill Business Centre.  Behind it is student accommodation and a corner shop stocked with items for a student life.

Within about a ten minute walk the city centre had been reached. Scaffolding surrounds Leicester Cathedral which is closed while undergoing major repairs. So much for hoping to visit the grave of King Richard III…

A school group approached – and quickly settled with their sketchbooks below a statue of the king wielding his crown.

Right opposite the statue is the King Richard III Visitor Centre  – this had been recommended by other boaters.

What an exhibition – Richard the youth, Richard the young king, Richard as instigator to law reforms, the claimants to the throne, the Battle of Bosworth, the start of the Tudor dynasty…Such was the history, presented via video screens, displays and information boards.

In the galleries upstairs a different approach is taken; first there is a sequence of photographs of actors portraying Richard III in various Shakespearean productions:


And then, (and it’s riveting) the story is told of how one woman’s intuition led to the finding and identification of bones in a car park as being those of the last English king killed in battle.

(The digger bucket that unearthed Richard III’s grave)

Modern science played its part – establishing the likely death date of the bones and the DNA link to a descendant was absolutely fascinating stuff!

Then (as if in a grand finale?) visitors see a coffin draped with the specially embroidered pall which features likenesses of the persons involved in the excavations and the symbolic images of king and church leaders.  

(The crown is a faithful replica of the sort of medieval crown Richard would have worn. It contained semi-precious stones and pearls set onto gilded metal). Then ahead is the excavated grave of the anointed king whose body, 527 years after his burial, had been discovered below a Leicester car park…

The story of the finding of a king’s skeleton in a council car park had grabbed global attention.

“Yes, Leicester is getting international visitors now,” explained a member of staff.

And out on the street near the Haymarket Memorial Clock is an art piece entitled Sporting Success, installed BEFORE Leicester City Football Club won the English Football Premier League in 2016. Cricket, rugby, football … Yes, Leicester draws fans and visitors from far and wide these days.

There are plenty of independent shops    – and a vibrant market. “Bananas! Who’s for bananas!” shouted a stall holder. Her shout was taken up by others – who could out call their rival stallholders?!  This market, midway through on a Friday afternoon, brought back reminders of the shouters and callers competing for custom during a Tuesday or a Saturday market in Salisbury

Cleddau continued north through Leicester on a Saturday morning. There were reminders of the dye houses, rowers on the river, graffiti on the walls, modern glitzy buildings,   a famous football ground,

proud pylons, dilapidated factories, enthusiastic gongoozlers.

Up out of the Soar Valley, lock after lock after lock.

There was a pause at Aylestone, for an expedition into Aldi; ask not why there was a stepladder by a fence (and unseen) a dining chair the other side…

Tim from nb Nice Butt lead the way, Cleddau closing up each lock after it had been used.

12 locks and 8.5 hot miles later the little convoy had reached Kilby Bridge and waterside services. In slow time the next morning rubbish was disposed of and water was hosed into the tank. Persistent rain was forecast for the day so – to go, or not to go? That was the question…

 Trip stats since leaving Victoria Pit: 125½ miles, 85 locks, 2 swing bridges, 1 tunnel and 1 cow

Height drop from the Macclesfield summit: 416 feet

Height rise since Trent Lock: 160¾ feet

 Queries about the Tudor rose: 3 


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