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Family days out: Foxton Locks

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When I was a young girl, I came to Foxton Locks many times with my family and loved it.

But it’s been many years since I’ve been here so I thought it was about time I returned to remind myself just what was on offer. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Make a visit to Foxton Locks near Market Harborough and you’ll be welcomed by the largest flight of staircase locks on the English canal system which features two ‘staircases’ of five locks.

My daughter Ruby and I turned up on an unexpectedly sunny afternoon with lovely clear blue skies (certainly a change from the dreary weather we’ve been having of late).

As we only had the afternoon free, I parked in the short stay car park, paying £2 to park for four hours.

Taking a walk to the left, we wandered over the bridge and past The Old Boathouse and Foxton Locks Inn pub, taking a leisurely stroll up the hill to the left, past all of the locks.

Staircase locks such as those at Foxton 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.

Due to this, walking up past the locks took a little while as my daughter Ruby, who is two, only has little legs!

But we were in no hurry and it was such a lovely day.

Obviously due to the amount of water here, I was very conscious of keeping hold of Ruby’s hand while walking round the locks – especially if we crossed over to the other side of the lock via the small, narrow walkway bridges.

Ruby was fascinated by the flowing water and we managed to witness a narrowboat passing through the locks.

If I’m honest, Ruby wasn’t too bothered about watching what they were doing, although I found it fascinating – and made a mental note to bring my two oldest children back here soon, so they can experience it too.

Children are allowed to help open and close the locks but they need to ask first and ensure that they listen to instructions from the lock keepers and boat crew.

As we headed up past the locks, to the left is the Foxton Canal Museum and shop.

Entry for adults is £3.50 with children under 16 free (up to three children free per paying adult).

Here you can learn more about the history of the locks, how they were built as well as being able to see local canalware on show.

The museum is normally open daily but during the winter it’s closed on Thursdays and Fridays.

Once we’d reached the top, we headed back down past the locks and sat on some benches outside a little shop to watch the ducks.

It’s very tranquil here and the views – especially on a clear day – are fantastic.

If you’re feeling active, there are miles of canal towpaths for you to walk along, as well as a Discovery Trail to help entertain the kids.

If you’re looking for refreshments, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a drink or a bite to eat, including The Old Boathouse and Foxton Locks Inn.

Where to find them

You can find Foxton Locks by following the brown signs from the A6.

Or follow the Harborough sign from Junction 20 on the M1, following the brown signs from the A4304 at Lubenham, near Market Harborough.

If using SatNav, you’ll need to use postcode LE16 7RA.

Parking

You can either choose to park in the long stay car park or the short stay.

It’s just £1.50 all day in the long stay car park compared to £2 for up to four hours in the short stay.

And don’t worry if you don’t have change for parking – you can also pay using your mobile.

Foxton Locks Festival

After receiving the go-ahead for the Foxton Locks Festival 2014 following last year’s success, planning is now under way for this year’s event.

Taking place on June 21 and 22, it will feature music and attractions throughout the weekend.

More information can be found at www.foxtonlocksfestival.co.uk.

And as volunteers are key to the festival’s success, the organiser are calling out for anyone who is interested in volunteering to get in touch via the Contact Us page.

 

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