NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Monday 17 March 2014

On through Leicester and back to the beginning!

We had moored just below Double Rail Lock thinking it would be our last country mooring before Leicester.


The lock had filled overnight and was overspilling.


There is still so much excess water along here, even when we went down the next few locks, they were overspilling behind us making it harder to empty the locks and open the gates!


It was another terrific sunny day and an enjoyable cruise, just skimming the lower outskirts of Leicester.


After going down Gees Lock we decided to moor in the sunshine and countryside with the sound of traffic from the A563 just audible, and walk to the large Asda store on the Fosse Park for lunch and some supplies.

We wanted to be sure of having plenty of time to get through Leicester in case of any problems, such as those experienced by Maffi and the CRT workboat at Limekiln Lock!

So Wednesday morning it was time to bite the bullet and head onto the Soar through Leicester.

We decided on an early start for us, 9.30! and headed into Blue Bank Lock before the sun had decided to come out from the clouds.


We soon passed under the A563 and had our first sighting of the River Soar!


At Kings Lock someone had helpfully (not) moored on the lock landing, even though there was loads of mooring space below the lock!


A quick check of the water level gauge below the lock showed the Soar to be “in the green” safe level – quite low actually, considering how much water was about in the canal so far!

Just as we were going down in the lock, a boat arrived below, so we checked with them that there were no problems along the next stretch and discovered that they had left the pontoon moorings at Castle Gardens that morning, we left the gates open for them, and headed off to join the river ahead.


The sun still hadn't come out, but there was no wind so it was a pleasant journey through Aylestone Mill Lock and past some nice new houses.


A bit further on we passed the first gas storage tank- looks a bit low!


Just round the bend (and there are lots of them on the river!) was St Marys Mill Lock – derelict buildings covered in graffiti, but still a nice setting, and Gary had a chat to a local whilst I did the hard work!


As we left the lock and headed under a bridge we spied a large weir ahead!


This is one spot you definitely wouldn't want to be if the river was in flood!


Freeman’s Meadow Lock is the site of Leicester Football Club.


Spring is really in the air now – look at these trees bursting into life!


We were now at the bottom of the Mile Straight, where the bridges are all very interesting and colourful!


This one had strange extra supports!


There are lots of colourful university buildings and accommodation blocks along this stretch.


There were loads of swans about – several headless ones too!



Then just ahead we spied the Castle Gardens pontoon moorings and there was space to moor. We decided to stop and have lunch and then explore on foot before cruising further.


The pontoons are only accessible with a CRT key, and as the gardens are locked at 5.30pm we have our own private garden too! Perfect location for exploring the City Centre, shops, restaurants etc.


After lunch the sun had come out, so we set off to walk along the towpath to check out the route and conditions ahead of us.

Our mooring from the towpath.


We are definitely in Leicester!


The first hazard we will come across in the boat is this weir – health and safety obviously haven't been here yet – there are no signs telling boats not to go straight on!


We followed the towpath past North Lock, Limekiln Lock and up to Belgrave Lock and hatched a plan to be sure not to get stuck like poor old Maffi!

At this point we crossed the river and started back towards the boat, but taking the path past the Abbey Pumping Station Museum.


Right next door is the National Space Centre, somewhere I would like to visit properly, so we will be returning soon!


We hadn't realised that you could see the rocket inside!


We then walked on, through Abbey Park,


crossing this bridge in the park.


We passed this church and  and unusually named road!


We decided that we needed a drink after all that walking in the sun, so made our way to “Soar Point” pub by the river, and sat on their terrace watching the rowers go by! (picture taken before we went in!)


We treated ourselves to an Indian Take-away from Jamals on Narborough Road, just round the corner. We recommend them highly – you can eat in if you wish and take your own alcohol too!

Thursday dawned foggy, but as we now knew what to expect whilst travelling, we didn't rush off early. The sun broke through by about 11am, so after a quick trip to the big Tescos just over the bridge, we untied from the pontoon and carried on down the soar!


We made sure to keep away from the weir and headed to the right instead!


Round the bend, and keep to the left through this bridge!


Straight ahead, another one of those weirs with no signs!


But make sure you go far enough round, or you could end up at this dead end!


Then, dead ahead, the first lock of the day, North Lock!


It is here that our plan that we hatched yesterday was to take effect.

After working Gary and Muleless through the lock, we parted company! I was to stay on the towpath to lighten the boat (!!!) and to be rubbish spotter whilst Gary put Muleless into electric drive.


The water was very clear, and we could see how shallow and hazardous it was close to the towpath!


The towpath got a bit overgrown as we passed Abbey Park!


And then we arrived at Limekiln lock, the site of Maffi’s and CRT’s problems!


So far, so good. As I worked Muleless through the lock, Gary again was deep in conversation with a passer by!


We exited the lock and headed under Abbey Park Road Bridge.


And that’s when we saw it – the motorbike in the water!


(I did report this to CRT, and they have taken action to remove it straight away)

Right next to the bridge they are renovating this old building, obviously they hope no-one lasso's the scaffolding when the river is in flood!


As Gary cruised along slowly in electric drive I realised he was hardly making a ripple, nor stirring up the silt/rubbish under the boat – and just gliding by even floating rubbish without moving it! and of course this meant terrific reflections!


As we went round the bend, first sighting of the space centre and pumping station ahead.


Just up ahead was Belgrave Lock, and another of those big weirs too, on the left just after the bridge!



And here comes Gary, heading for the gate I’ve opened ready for him!


Its celebration time! Through Leicester without anything caught on the prop! Hooray. We celebrate with pasties and drinks!


We are on the final stretch now, just the river section and two more locks to go!


You can see the difference now we are back on diesel drive – we don't leave the water ripple free!

This part of the river is lovely on a sunny day, the willow trees are blooming.


Birstall Lock looked lovely in the sun.


I managed to capture this pheasant as we cruised by.


And finally, we enter Thurmaston Lock. It really feels like a summers day now, not just looks like one!


We have arrived at our destination, MGM Boats. Six months after leaving on our maiden voyage we are back to have a few teething problems fixed.

We will be here for a few weeks, and then the journey will begin again – we have itchy feet now, can’t stay still for long!!

Phew, that was a mammoth blog! Well done to all of you that made it this far – I really must start blogging on a daily basis when I have so much to show you.


  1. Nice going guys. Lovely spring weather and beautiful photo's along the canal. Catch up soon! Posted from a spring like Folkestone!

  2. Hi Della and Gary, I have only today come across your blog, I have found your posting's on the Leicester Line really helpful ( if not daunting in places ), and I shall shortly be following in your footsteps, so I shall follow with interest. Wishing you continued Happy Cruising. Jacquie

    1. Hi Jacquie
      I have been reading your blog and would have contacted you soon with our observations on Leicester to help you out.
      Sounds like you are doing really well single handling your boat - I don't even steer ours yet!
      Most of the Soar through Leicester is lovely and deep - you just have to watch out for rubbish floating about in some places. The worst shallow/rubbishy sections are between North Lock and Belgrave Lock - be very careful when pulling in to the side.
      I will keep an eye on your progress and we hope to see you sometime.

    2. Thanks Della, for your kind reply. It's nice to have someone's timely observations. I'm travelling slowly, as this is the first time that I have no time commitments/or proving stuff to myself, the photos you've done will come in handy, it's so different being on the deck on your own, without an extra set of eyes looking out for weir's and debris etc. I have had people say to me it's a doddle up that way to don't touch it with a barge pole !! I guess you'll only know yourself. So I shall keep on watching you now, and thanks again. Jacquie

  3. We'll done great blog , looking forward to doing that stretch ourselves
    Richard & Sharon ( nb Oakapple )
    Ps have booked the build slot we were telling you about

  4. Thanks for the loan of a windlass on Sunday during the boat test, and sorry not to have had time to come and say hello. It was all a bit of a rush!

    1. Glad we could help. There were lots of extra people about so we kept out of the way. Next time you see us please do stop in for a cuppa!
      Gary and Della