Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An afternoon at Foxton Locks

The weather yesterday was fantastic - totally clear skies, and a gentle breeze to keep the temperature down a bit. Just right for a bit of sight-seeing. So, after waxing and polishing the remaining side of the boat, we drove off to Foxton Locks, having visited in a hurry once before, and seen that it looks worth spending some time there. We're expecting Colin to arrive any moment, to take a look at our engine thermostat, so we weren't about to go out in the boat. Hopefully, we start our next cruise tomorrow.

Foxton Locks is a double staircase of five locks each, in a beautiful setting which also incorporates two pubs, a couple of shops, a cafĂ© and a museum. It seems to be a very popular spot for visitors. The pubs were full, the shop busy, and the tour boat (£3 a ride) attracting good numbers. Families wandered the site, enjoyed the beautiful panorama from a viewing platform, sat in the sun, and watched the boats. We thoroughly enjoyed being gongoozlers for a change!

Of great fascination is the remains of a boat lift. Built in 1900 because canal traffic was too great for the locks to cope, the lift carried boats sideways up the hill in huge steel bath-like structures. This only took around 12 minutes, compared with the 45 to 50 minutes for the locks.
The boat lift in action
Unfortunately, the lift was built just before the canals started to suffer from serious competition with the railways, and it was closed after just 11 years, and demolished in 1925. However, there is a project now to rebuild the lift, and to have it working, lifting boats again (and lowering them!) as it did all those years ago. Click here for more information.

It was a really good afternoon out, with a pub lunch and a leisurely stroll around the whole area, although we gave the museum a miss.

Today, the weather is again hot and sunny. Getting back out onto the cut is a very attractive prospect.

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