A Knight’s Tale (119: The Foxton Staircase)

Sam negotiating Foxton flight 1

I continued tracking my son along the Oxford Canal into July 2003,

beside landscaped abstracts of furrowed fields.

Sam in Pacific Pete 7.03

Beyond Oxford, Sam took to the Grand Union Canal

alongside which the footpaths were often completely overgrown, albeit

with pleasant wild flowers, such as meadowsweet and willow herb.

The many butterflies flitting about included gatekeepers, red admirals, and ringlets.

Oak leaves 7.03

The shade from trees like this oak was often welcome in the heat of the day.

About the Foxton Flight of Locks, built between 1810 and 1814, Wikipedia informs us:

‘Foxton Locks (grid reference SP691895) are ten canal locks consisting of two “staircases” each of five locks, located on the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal about 5 km west of the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough and are named after the nearby village of Foxton.

They form the northern terminus of a 20-mile summit level that passes Husbands BosworthCrick and ends with the Watford flight

Staircase locks are used where a canal needs to climb a steep hill, and consist of a group of locks where each lock opens directly into the next, that is, where the bottom gates of one lock form the top gates of the next. Foxton Locks are the largest flight of such staircase locks on the English canal system.

The Grade II* listed locks are a popular tourist attraction and the county council has created a country park at the top. At the bottom, where the junction with the arm to Market Harborough is located, there are two public houses, a shop, trip boat and other facilities.’

On the day Sam guided Pacific Pete down this staircase, family visitors were out in force. For once I was ahead of my son, and reached the locks in time to learn that the canal-side telegraph was buzzing with the news that a large rowing boat was on its way through.

The audience gathered to watch Sam use his giant oar to steer and propel the boat through the locks where there was no room to row.

Asian family leaving Foxton Flight 7.03

Did you notice the Asian man gesturing to his family in the third picture, and shepherding them over the bridge in the last, in order to lead them down the slope to see the rower on his way?

Child helping at the locks 7.03

There had been no shortage of helpers to push the long balance beams operating the gates.

There were plenty of narrow boats on the waters, but no other ocean-going rowing boats.

Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

51 thoughts on “A Knight’s Tale (119: The Foxton Staircase)

  1. Such a wonderful adventure, and great photos. I particularly like the shots of the meadowsweet and the narrow boats. I love that so many people were interested and wanted to help.

  2. That was quite an event! As soon as I saw the first canal photo, I immediately thought, this is where The Wind in the Willows is set! I also liked the oak leaves photo for its aestheic value.

  3. I can imagine how exciting this would be as a parent running along, taking pictures of your son a celebrity boatman and that the footpath flora would be positively grounding.

  4. Your parallel journey has been equally challenging even if it lacked the excitement generated by Sam’s rowboat. You have supplemented the account with photos of matching purport.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: