The Grand Union Canal, Leicestershire
Best for: Gongoozling ‘Gongoozling’ – hanging around locks to see how ably or otherwise boaters manage their craft – is a traditional canalside activity. And Foxton, with its flight of ten locks, is perfect for it. A waterside café and pub at the bottom of the locks give front-row views, while a museum celebrates canal life and the workings of the inclined plane, a steamdriven mechanical hoist which once lifted boats up and down the hill in 13 minutes as opposed to the hour and a quarter needed to go through the locks. From the tearoom at the top there’s a 20-mile ‘pound’ – a lock-free stretch so it’s flat the whole way – which contours across remote countryside to reach Crick. Walking takes you at narrowboat speed, with the same great views, though at Husbands Bosworth tunnel you’ll have to climb over the hill whilst boats chug into the darkness.
WALK HERE: Follow the canal from Foxton Locks to Crick. For a circular route, download Smeeton Westerby at www.lfto.com/bonusroutes