Canal Cuttings – March 2024

Foxton Locks
The canal at Foxton Locks

Things are starting to pick up on the canal and at the locks, helped by an unusually mild spell of spring weather and the days getting a bit longer. The half-term weeks were a mixture of very good and very bad days, the main news being the regular flooding. ‘February fill-dyke’ became February over-fill dyke. The Canal & River Trust have been fighting the elements with excess water everywhere. Many trees are down across the canal and there is damage to towpaths.

Glorious mud….

Despite some earlier remedial works by volunteers, the towpath between the village and the locks is again a nasty quagmire. Footpaths in the vicinity are also often impossibly muddy. Some people are asking “Why is the canal that funny yellow colour?”. It is our thick Leicestershire clay being washed down the watercourses.

The River Soar has been in almost constant flood, severing navigation between south and north. There have sadly been some nasty accidents, involving both boats and people.

Spring flowers in bloom

At least the spring flowers are cheering us up, with snowdrops and daffodils all down the towpaths, where boaters in the past have planted them and they have spread and naturalised. The ‘Purple for Polio’ crocus that were planted some years ago on the bank in front of the meeting pond have put on a good show and diminutive violets are also covering the banks in sunny spots, particularly towards Debdale.

Blackthorn blossom is starting to burst in the towpath hedges. Wildlife is also active, the swans busy selecting their nest sites and ducks and moorhens pairing up. A pair of Pochard ducks and a cormorant are frequent visitors (joining our otters, muntjac, badgers, foxes etc, and birds too numerous to mention).

A floating market

There is to be a Floating Market at the top of the locks, beyond the Gumley Road bridge between 29 March and 1 April, with various trading boats offering a variety of goods, and an art exhibition.

Mary Matts