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Wednesday, 22 December 2021

#291 The Navigation, Kilby Bridge, Leicestershire : 1986 to 2021

 Our first ever visit to The Navigation Inn was on the evening of Wednesday 23rd July 1986.

This was our summer vacation and my first time along the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal. I remember little about the pub then apart from the fact that it was a pleasant, traditional canalside boozer (the photo is taken from the bridge over the canal).

We didn't return for many years and, when we did, it was a disappointment on the evening of Wednesday 27th August 1998!

The disappointment wasn't that it had become an Ansell's pub; no, it was that it was closed! We'd travelled for 5¼ hours in an afternoon from Foxton only to find that the landlord had, seemingly, done a 'runner'!

Peering through the windows was like looking into the Mary Celeste - there were still empty glasses and crisp packets littering the tables, but no sign of life.

We managed to slake our thirst and assuage our hunger in the not so nearby town/village of Wigston. According to the locals it's just "5 minutes" away...but that was obviously in a fast car as it was a good 20 minute walk (not what you really want after a 5¼ hour afternoon boating session through a dozen wide, heavy locks)!

It was another five years before we were back in Kilby Bridge for a lunchtime stop on Wednesday 20th August 2003.

This time it was open as just The Navigation and a free house as well. I have no recollection that particular visit, but over the years the pub has changed very little. (This time it took us just under 5 hours from Foxton!)
Boating trips that take us to Kilby Bridge inevitably entail a visit to Leicester (and often Nottingham) which are places that are only accessible (for us) on two week holidays. Thus, there is usually a significant gap between visits.
It was another six years before we returned, this time on the evening of Monday 7th September 2009 having had a lunchtime session in Leicester whilst waiting for our third crew member to join us for the rest of the trip.
There appeared to have been little change to the exterior of the pub (apart from a 'token' shelter over the external seating).
It would seem that our routine has changed from a visit every five years to six - we were back again at lunchtime on Friday 28th August 2015.
Again, no discernible change.
Another six years on and we made our most recent visit at lunchtime on Tuesday 10th August 2021.
The exterior is again largely unchanged (ignoring the fading of signs that have been there for at least 18 years!) but the doors and windows have been painted grey and the hanging sign has been replaced.
We sat in the front bar which is a proper old school canal pub bar and had a very pleasant lunchtime pub experience as I reported here.
The Navigation is a little gem of a pub and do I hope that we will be visiting it in the years to come (at 5 - 6 year intervals!)

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