Canal Boat Club - Welcome aboard

If you like quiet pubs, in rural settings you will be spoilt for choice, but if you want organised entertainment you should look elsewhere.

A few good books are a must and a pack of cards can be worth its weight in gold on a wet day. If you have children, perhaps some jigsaws or board games might be a good idea, but don't bring the Scalextric!

Don't forget also, that each boat is fitted with a television and DVD player, so a selection of DVD's might prove invaluable if the weather is inclement.

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The Canal Boat Club

Union wharf Cruising Routes

The marina at Union Wharf has been recently redeveloped by British Waterways and completed in 2005. The marina is located at the northern end of Market Harborough - a quaint, traditional English market town that dates from 1203. You can enjoy delicious food and fine ales in the town's historic coaching inns or just potter around the market and the fine selection of family owned shops. From Union Wharf it’s just two hours cruising to the 'Leicester Line' of the Grand Union Canal.

Grand Union Canal – Market Harborough Arm

Market Harborough – A market town mid way between Leicester and Northampton. Visit Welland Park, the town’s museum and the old grammar school, a 17th school built on stilts. Visit nearby Rockingham Castle built by William the Conqueror. If you need to entertain the children then visit Wicksteed Park www.wicksteed.co.uk one of the biggest and best playgrounds in Europe. The town has may nice pubs, and shops. there is a antique and collectors market every Sunday in the market hall.

Eat at Waterfront Restaurant based at Union Wharf Marina. Open 12-14.15 & 18.00 til late for meals and all afternoon for snacks and drinks.

The Old Union Canal Society gives guided walks along the canal during summer months and follow the historic town trail.

You are welcome to stayed moored up in the Marina and use the car or public transport to visit the many local attractions see website www.goleicestershire.com

The Grand Union canal boasts an extraordinary variety of wildlife, from feeding herons, and hunting owls, to water voles. A number of diverse species thrive in this tranquil and often unique environment.

CRUISING The base at Union Wharf Marina is at the end of the Market Harborough Arm, & you need to cruise for about 2 hours (5 ½ miles) to Foxton to get back on the main Leicester section of The Grand Union Canal.

Once you reach Foxton you have a choice of cruising SOUTH OR NORTH.

GRAND UNION CANAL - Southwards

Cruise leisurely through rural and peaceful countryside to the famous Foxton Staircase Lock, about 2 hours away. Foxton is the site of a steam powered Inclined Plane, which duplicated the ten locks and lifted narrow boats 75 feet. It was opened in 1900 but suffered from mechanical and structural problems. Whilst here visit the Foxton Museum and gift shop.

The well stocked canalside shop offers you groceries, hardware as well as the traditional “roses and Castles” canalware, made and hand-painted on site. Stop for a cream tea in the canal side cafe or a well deserved pint in the Foxton Locks Inn. Spend a couple of hours watching the colourful narrow boats passing through the staircase locks. British Waterways organise events based on Foxton Locks – visit www.foxtonlocks.com

Cruise from Foxton towards the Watford Locks to the South. The Canal weaves its way through an remote but attractive stretch. There are no villages on the canal here, but a number within easy walking distance.

Look out over the vale of Welland and to the nearby Laughton Hills. Slow down, cruise on and watch mile after mile beautiful and unspoilt countryside unfold

Enjoy an easy cruise as the canal meanders through unspoilt surroundings passing through the Husband Bosworth Tunnel. The Tunnel is 1166 yards long and was opened in 1813.

North Kilworth is off to your right, with a couple of pubs- The White Lion & the Swan Inn. Kilworth Wharf Marina – overnight mooring on the towpath. At the Welford Junction you can if you wish take a slight detour up the Welford Arm an overnight mooring makes a pleasant stay with the facilities of the village close by.

There is even a local on your doorstep – The Wharf Inn, with large well kept gardens by the River Avon. Some open air theatre functions during August. Nearby are the Welford & Sulby reservoirs – a public footpath from the village crosses the causeway between the two reservoirs that supply the canal & provides good views of the wildfowl on both.

The Battle of Naesy 1645 was fought 2 miles east of Welford. Here Fairfax's New Model Army routed the Royalists under King Charles I, ensuring the end of the Civil War. Gently continue your journey passing the Hemplow Hills to your left, and open fields of grazing sheep. 2 Miles east of Bridge 31 is Stanford Hall, a William & Mary brick mansion built in the late 17th Century. On display also here is a replica on an experimental flying machine built in 1898. Teas, shop & craft centre. Open pm Easter -Sept.

The next stretch of the canal wanders southwards in a series of loops through wonderful rural scenery with not much signs of habitation.

Yelvertoft is a delightful village to stop for a while and there are moorings between bridges 19 and 20. The local is is the Knightly Arms which serves real ales & home cooked food. You can stock up on supplies here as there is a stores, off licence & butcher.

Before you pass through the Crick Tunnel, you can moor up at bridge 12 & visit Edwards of Crick, a restaurant & coffee house offering a wide ranging menu. Stroll into the village of Crick, home of one of Britain’s largest annual boat show held each year in May and have a pint and a meal at one of the local pubs .

There is an intriguing second hand shop here open Wed Fri & Sat that is worth a visit (14.00-18.00) Crick Tunnel is 1528 yards long, & has no tow path so if you wish to walk it you will have to go over the top.

Meet the lock-keepers at the Watford Locks and they will cheerfully help you on your way down through their complex set of locks. Watford Locks raise the canal to it summit level of 412 feet. Four of these locks form a staircase, with a 'one up one down procedure. The small village of Watford is not to be confused with the large town of Watford in Hertfordshire. Moor up at Bridge number 6 for a true taste of the Orient at the Thai Garden, right by the canal.

Once through the Watford Locks continue towards Norton Junction were we meet the Grand Union. (You soon will find that the M1 motorway swings away from you, but if you want 24 hr provisions you can moor up by Bridge 6 which is right beside The Watford Gap motorway services.) At Norton Junction you can then go down the Grand Union towards London, or we recommend that you head west towards Braunston.

From Norton Junction to Braunston the canal runs westward through hills and wooded country, then into a wooded cutting which leads to Braunston Tunnel. Off to the north on your right you will pass the small village of Welton on a hill. At Bridge 6 ¾ mile from the Canal you can find a 400 yr old pub – The White Horse Inn.

Braunston Tunnel was opened in 1796 & is 2042 yards long. Long rows of moored craft flank the canal, but there is usually plenty of places to moor, as it is worth strolling into Braunston as there are a fine selection of old buildings here.

The Stop House, was originally the Toll office between the Oxford and the Grand Union canal. It is worth stocking up on supplies here, as if you are with us for a week then it will be time to think about returning home at this point. Remember you may have seen the views before but it will look a lot different on the way back.

GRAND UNION CANAL - northwards

Cruising north will take you towards Leicester and you can visit some of the pretty towns and villages on the way. The canal section just before Leicester is very rural, surrounded by pleasant, typical English countryside. If it is getting late & you want to moor up either choose a stretch of canalside. Soon you will pass through Saddington Tunnel which is 880 yards long, lookout for the bats which naturalists enthuse about. The Tunnel was built crooked in 1797.

Just a mile or so away is the village of Saddington, the award winning pub - Queens Head in the main street has superb views over Saddington reservoir, and serves a wide range of food. Visit Saddington reservoir built to keep the canal well watered now a wildlife haven

After the tunnel you will see the small town of Fleckney, about 10 mins walk from Bridge 73. There is a takeaway, stores & a bakery, chemist & off licence here. The Old Crown west of Bridge 73 serves food.

The first locks you reach are the Klibworth Locks, in fact there are 5 locks to negotiate along this stretch. Visit the Wistow Rural Centre www.wistow.com moor up at either bridge 78 or 80 for access. Call into the tea rooms for a traditional English tea, a light snack or a 3 course lunch – children’s menus also available.

Then stroll around the model village and the garden centre. Wistan Le Dale model village- take the footpath south from Ivy Bridge (78) to the church and visit this acclaimed Model Village. Open daily exc Tues, with cafe. In the summer there is an excellent maze in the field.

The tunnel, bridges and locks which begin the descent into Leicester provide plenty of Canal interest.

Brocks Hill Country Park & Environment Centre is a 2 ½ mile walk north along a footpath from Clifton Bridge (85) & then via A5199 & B582, but it is well worth the effort as it make a very worthwhile day out.It is a unique environment centre built to demonstrate wind & solar power. Set in 67 acres of parkland wil a cafe. Entrance is free.

The navigation follows the north westerly course of the River Sence, until you reach Kilby Bridge (87) where indications of the City of Leicester begin. there is a good pub here.- The Navigation Inn a friendly pub serving real ales & food.

About ½ mile north of Kilby Bridge is the award winning Wigston Framework Knitters museum. open every Sunday.

The navigation from Blaby into Leicester runs through a linear Country park & mostly parallels the off road cycleway along an old railway track.

Aylestone off to the right still retains the feel of a country village with narrow streets and pretty brick cottages. The gas museum www.gasmuseum.co.uk is situated in a Victorian gatehouse in one of the city's first gasworks. East of Packhorse Bridge 105 (fork left up Sanvey lane, then left) is the Black Horse. The Union Inn is east of Freestone bridge 106.

The canal follows the River Sence to its junction with the Soar, sometimes they share the same bed, and because of this flooding can occur after heavy rainfall. Watch out for signs and for the enormous weir just above Freemans meadow lock where the Canal & the River Soar meet.

The Canal enters Leicester along a pleasant cutting, a variety of buildings line the canal banks and a series of ornamental bridges lead straight into the town centre by the West bridge, making this a lovely route into Leicester considering it is a large City. There are secure moorings at Castle Gardens (on the right past Bridge 2). The city centre is remarkably compact with everything surprisingly close to these moorings. Places to see: Belgrave House & Gardens,- 1709 Queen Anne House www.leicestermuseums.ac.uk

Abbey Pumping Station- 1891 with Victorian steam powered beams engines that used to pump the towns sewerage. Also unique public health exhibition & managers house circa World War 2. Moorings here.

Castle Gardens & Motte (where you moor) The Motte or raised mound dates from the 11th C.

Cathedral- Guildhall Lane, dating from 14th & 15th Centuries & restored in 19 C.

Eco House- Environmently friendly show house Tel 0116 285 5489. Buses from High Street.

NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE- close to Belgrave Lock 44. www.spacecentre.co.uk . A great day out for the whole family is at The National Space Centre. View the space age building as you approach from you narrowboat. The opportunity to explore many facets od space travel, to meet the furthest reaches of our universe face to face & to interact with both science fact & science fiction. Open Tues -Sun all year & Mon pm -school hols.

St Mary de castro- Founded in 1107 with excellent examples of Norman glass, stone & wood carving.

Brand new curve theatre and deluxe cinema.

Haymarket Theatre- Venue for hit shows bound for the West End. www.lhtheatre.co.uk.

Phoenix Arts Centre – Cinema & live performances of contemporary dance, mime, jazz & folk.

Restaurants Golden Mile- an area centred on Belgrave Rd., to the north of the city, where the focus lies on the superb range of Asian cultural delights & cuisine. In a large city such as Leicester, there is a wide range of pubs & restaurants , these are near the canal: The Hat & Beaver- close to the Highcross shopping centre. The Northbridge Tavern- by North Lock. The Mulberry Tree , Birstall, riverside gastro pub.

Markets Market Place – the Food hall selling fresh meat , poultry, dairy produce & fish from all over the world. Tues – Sat. The retail market with over 300 covered stalls is open also.

Museums

Jewry Wall Museum- Collection of the count's archaeology up to the Middle Ages, overlooking the Jewry Wall, which dates from 2nd C & is thought to be part of Roman Baths. Two Roman Mosaic pavements can be seen in situ.

New walk Museum & Art gallery- www.Leicestermuseums.ac.uk you will discover the mighty dinosaurs as you walk in their footprints, be on the lookout for the ‘Barrow Kipper’ and the Rutland dinosaur.

Newarke Houses Museum- The social history of the area from 1500 to the present day, inc the history of hosiery, costume & lace industries.

Royal Infirmary Museum- history from 1771. Wygston's House Museum of Costume.

New Highcross Shopping Centre- All the usual big name stores under one high, glass-arched roof plus cafes, pizzzeria, etc. St Martins Square & Loseby Lane- speciality shopping centre in the heart of the City, Food, fashion, wine & flowers amongst the street entertainers.

If you want quiet moorings to the north of the city cruise up to Birstall, tie up near the lock & walk up beside the White Horse. This is a useful place to stop for supplies.

The river leaves the canal, and Leicester behind, and heads north through an area of gravel workings. By Bridge 19 is the Hope & Anchor with good moorings.

Onwards towards Mountsorrel which is only a few yards from the canal and is a useful place for supplies. The lock is is very much a waterways show-place, & the extensive moorings and lockside pub, make it a very busy one.(The Waterside Inn by Lock 50). Leaving Mountsorrel Lock the navigation first passes under a red brick railway bridge, dated 1860.

There is a pub at Barrow Mills basin- The Navigation, with a copper topped bar from old pennies & half-pennies. Near Barrow Deep Lock there are a couple of pubs- The Soar bridge Inn & The Riverside. Beyond, there follows a superb wooded stretch for nearly a mile, terminated by Pillings Flodd Lock, The canal circles Loughborough to a T Junction.

This marks the end of the Leicester navigation & the start of the Loughborough Navigation which completes the last 9 miles to the River Trent. Loughborough is a busy industrial town, with shops etc & there is a bric a brac market held every Friday.

The Bell Foundry Museum is worth a visit, south of Bridge 38. www.taylorbells.co.uk The Great Central railway south of Bridge 36 is 8 miles of preserved main line taking you back to the days of express steam haulage.

Open every weekend & weekdays June-August. www.gcrailway.co.uk The Great Central railway has been voted no 12 in a list of the 50 great railway journeys of the world. Near Loughborough Wharf there is a carvery (Lynroys) & a pub (The Albion Inn 1/4 mile north) On a weeks stay you will not get much further than this, so you can turn around at the Wharf & head back to Market Harborough.

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