Canal Boat - - The Cruise Guide -

pick of wa­ter­ing holes on the

Beau­manor Road, Le­ices­ter. 0116 266 9659. 5 mins west of Bridge 13 and first left. Friendly back-street sub­ur­ban pub with wide range of real ales, sand­wiches and (on cer­tain days) a bar­ber!

Birstall. 0116 267 1038. Be­low Birstall Lock. Fam­ily-friendly former boat­men’s pub, gar­den with play area, real ale, rea­son­ably priced food and oc­ca­sional live mu­sic

Sys­ton. 0116 260 1963. Water­side at Bridge 19. Pop­u­lar fam­ily pub and restau­rant, part of Hun­gry Horse chain, with real ale, break­fast from 10am, gar­den, play area

Water­side Mountsor­rel. 0116 230 2758. By the lock. Pop­u­lar pub with restau­rant and wood-pan­elled bar, real ale, lock­side seat­ing

Nav­i­ga­tion Bar­row-upon-Soar. 01509 412842. Water­side by Bridge 28. Busy vil­lage lo­cal with real ale, food and gar­den

Al­bion Lough­bor­ough. 01509 213952. Canal­side just north of the junc­tion. 18th Cen­tury boat­men’s pub with real ale (in­clud­ing a house beer spe­cially brewed), food and pa­tio

Plough Nor­man­ton on Soar. 01509 842228. Water­side in the vil­lage. At­trac­tive old inn, with em­pha­sis on food but those just want­ing a drink are wel­come. Real ale, gar­den, moor­ings (re­ally the only ones in the vil­lage)

Zouch. 01509 842240. Water­side west of Bridge 43. His­toric pub with beams and open fire, real ale, food, gar­den

Ot­ter Keg­worth. 01509 672372. Water­side ¾ mile south of Keg­worth. Large tra­di­tional river­side inn spe­cial­is­ing in food, with real ale, gar­den and moor­ings (overnight by ar­range­ment)

An­chor Sta­tion Road, Keg­worth. 01509 672846. Just west of Keg­worth Shal­low Lock. Un­spoilt lo­cal with orig­i­nal in­te­rior fea­tures, real ale and cider, food, open fire and gar­den

Pub­de­tail­sare­like­ly­tochangeat­short­no­tice: youaread­vised­to­phonea­head­tobesure Pump­ing Sta­tion and the Na­tional Space Cen­tre. A foot­path from the lock leads to both at­trac­tions. The Abbey Pump­ing Sta­tion houses an in­dus­trial mu­seum with four re­stored beam en­gines and a vin­tage trans­port col­lec­tion; while the sil­ver tower of the Na­tional Space Cen­tre (see in­set) can be seen from the lock.

Once past Bel­grave Lock, Le­ices­ter’s industry and res­i­den­tial out­skirts be­gin to thin out as you ap­proach Birstall and the Water­mead Coun­try Park.

At Birstall, the lock is a good place to stop for sup­plies. The Water­mead Coun­try Park boasts a net­work of 12 ar­ti­fi­cial lakes made up from old gravel work­ings. Barges on the nav­i­ga­tion were still busy car­ry­ing gravel in the Sys­ton area as re­cently as the 1990s. Now the lakes have three na­ture re­serves and are used for fish­ing and wa­ter sports. There is even a life-size sculp­ture of a mam­moth over­look­ing one lake and, on an­other, a sculp­ture depict­ing a scene from Shake­speare’s King Lear.

Af­ter Thur­mas­ton Lock, the river and nav­i­ga­tion part com­pany at the Water­mead Coun­try Park as we fol­low a short ar­ti­fi­cial canal lead­ing to Sys­ton, pass­ing a water­side pub be­fore meet­ing the Soar’s trib­u­tary, the River Wreake. To our right, this was once nav­i­ga­ble for 15 miles through 12 broad locks to

‘Barges were still car­ry­ing gravel as re­cently as the 1990s. Now, the lakes have na­ture re­serves and fish­ing and wa­ter sports’

Tom Hoskins

White Horse

Hope & An­chor

Rose & Crown

Join­ing the River Wreake sec­tion at Coss­ing­ton

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