Fiona and Peeter bought their iconic lock cottage, Kings Lock Cottage, in December 2015. You’ll find it on the towpath of the Grand Union, Leicester Line, to the south west of the city of Leicester. Peeter says, “Although we are in the city and only a fifteen minute walk from Fosse Park shopping center, we are also in the beautiful Aylestone Meadows nature reserve!”

Kings Lock Cottage is the last remaining lockkeepers cottage in Leicester, so I was surprised to hear that it is not listed. The cottage faces the towpath and the lock, and is everything you would expect from a lockkeeper’s cottage, with whitewashed walls and a classic country porch over the front door. To the rear there are glorious open views over fields to the River Soar.

The cottage has been extended and changed over the years. Since Fiona and Peeter have taken over, they have decorated the cottage in a neutral style, they’ve installed electric heating, as there is no gas or oil supply, and they’ve carried out extensive insulation work.

Fiona and Peeter run their tearoom from the cottage. It caters for both local residents and boaters, serving hot drinks, baguettes, soups and a selection of fresh scones and cakes. “The tearoom is very popular during the summer, but its location down an unlit towpath does restrict trade during the winter,” Peeter admits. Nevertheless, the quieter days have their benefits. “We love the peace and tranquillity,” says Peeter, “and keep our eyes and ears open.”

There is plenty of wildlife to see. “Not many people can say they see herons, fish, swans, ducks, kingfishers, swallows, pheasants, and the occasional deer on a five minute walk on a city towpath,” says Peeter proudly, “and there are numerous other visitors throughout the year, from red kites to robins, and greylag geese to egrets.” The more ubiquitous birds can be demanding neighbours. “The wildlife isn’t shy of reminding us when they want feeding,” laughs Peeter.

There is a distinct seasonal rhythm to life at Kings Lock. “In spring the cottage can feel like a giant bird nesting box,” says Peeter. “Spring and summer are very colourful, autumn as well, but it can become slippery underfoot. When it snows in winter the scene is transformed, and we are entertained by the ducks ice skating when they land on the frozen canal.”

You can find Fiona and Peeter on their Kings Lock Tearooms website and their Kings Lock Tearooms Facebook page, where they post details of opening times and offers.