Canal cuttings

We managed to get through the very dry season without any further restrictions on movement through the locks, unlike canals in other parts of the country (most of them have re-opened now) although it was a close thing. Water was regularly run down at night to top up the lower Leics. Line, through to Leicester, which has suffered from leakage forever.

There is a comprehensive programme of winter maintenance. This is particularly in the Wigston area, which hopes to combat some of the worst problems. A system that was constructed 220 years ago is bound to suffer from failures. The Canal & River Trust are battling to get enough government grant to tackle the worst of the problems.

Water supply, although not immediately obvious to the average canal or towpath user, is the most essential factor. This is both getting enough of it when needed, and getting rid of it if there is too much. Until recently the waterway authorities have been able to utilise any streams and water courses that can feed into the canal. However they must now apply for a licence to abstract from them, and a huge cost.

There is not much boat traffic through the winter, with just a few hire boats out, the ‘locals’ from the surrounding marinas, and our usual winter migrants. Visitors fluctuate according to the weather, although the current cost of living crisis is affecting numbers and spend. However, Foxton Locks remains a relatively cheap day out. This is at a time of year when people have less choice of places to go.

The bottom lock shop and Bridge 61 pub will provisionally be open 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, 9pm Fridays, with food until 3pm; 5pm Sat and Sun, food till 4pm (weather and staff permitting).

Mary Matts