Canal Boat Holiday Base Information - Base 55 on the Leicester Ring


The marina at Base 55 has been recently redeveloped by British Waterways, and is operated by one of the UK's leading canal boat companies. The marina is located at the northern end of Market Harborough - a quaint, traditional English market town that dates from 1203.

From Base 55 it’s just two hours cruising to the Leicester section of the Grand Union Canal along the Market Harborough Arm. The Grand Union canal boasts an extraordinary variety of wildlife, from feeding herons, and hunting owls, to water voles.

Routes from this base

Short Break routes

These use sections of the one week routes below

One Week routes

Braunston and Return: 54 miles 46 locks 30 hours
Southwards cruise leisurely through rural and peaceful countryside to the famous Foxton Staircase Locks, about 2 hours away. Foxton is the site of a steam powered Inclined Plane, which replaced ten locks and lifted narrow boats 75 feet. It was opened in 1900 but suffered from mechanical and structural problems. The locks were reopened in 1908.

The Canal weaves its way through a remote but attractive stretch to Husband Bosworth Tunnel. The Tunnel is 1166 yards long and was opened in 1813. North Kilworth is off to your right, with a couple of pubs. At the Welford Junction you can if you wish take a slight detour up the Welford Arm for an overnight mooring with the facilities of the village close by. The Battle of Naseby in 1645 was fought 2 miles east of Welford.

The next stretch of the canal wanders southwards in a series of loops through wonderful rural scenery before you pass through the 1528 yards long Crick Tunnel. Stroll into the village of Crick, home of one of Britain’s largest annual boat shows. The lock-keepers at the Watford (not the large town in Hertfordshire!) Locks will help you through their complex set of locks to the summit level of 412 feet. Four of these locks form a staircase, with a 'one up one' down procedure.

Once through the Watford Locks continue towards the Norton Junction to meet the Oxford Canal. At Norton Junction you can then go down the Grand Union towards London, or head west towards Braunston. From Norton Junction to Braunston the canal runs westward through hills and wooded country, then into a wooded cutting which leads to 2042 yards long Braunston Tunnel. Braunston itself has a fine selection of old buildings, shops and pubs.

Loughborough and Return: 76 miles 70 locks 40 hours
Cruising north will take you towards Leicester and you can visit some of the pretty towns and villages on the way. Soon you will pass through Saddington Tunnel which is 880 yards long - lookout for bats! The Tunnel was built crooked in 1797. The first locks you reach are the Knibworth Locks, with 5 locks to negotiate along this stretch.

The Canal enters Leicester along a pleasant cutting. A variety of buildings line the canal banks and a series of ornamental bridges lead straight into the town centre. There are secure moorings at Castle Gardens (on the right past Bridge 2). The city centre is remarkably compact with everything surprisingly close to these moorings. A great day out for the whole family is at The National Space Centre close to Belgrave Lock 44.

For the last twenty miles of the route you'll be travelling along the River Soar, which is a tributary of the Trent, where you can enjoy some very pleasant countryside views. The canal continues on the Loughborough Navigation which completes the last 9 miles to the River Trent. Loughborough is a busy town. The Bell Foundry Museum is worth a visit, south of Bridge 38. The Great Central Railway south of Bridge 36 is 8 miles of preserved steam railway, open every weekend and weekdays June-August. At Loughborough Wharf you can turn around and head back to base.