Monday, 7 April 2014

Rain, an old shipmate, a tunnel and more rain.

What a miserable day Saturday was, rain, rain and more rain as we worked up the rest of the Cheshire Locks.

Jill was steering while I swung the windlass, she was being as efficient as usual until, coming out of lock 50, the wind decided to add a little variety to the day, a sudden gust pinned Armadillo to the side and it took the best efforts of the pair of us to get her off.

The locks up this stretch are all doubled and frequently have a bridge at the tail, they were doubled during the 1830's to accommodate the growing traffic and to ease water use. By having two locks it increases the chance of a boat finding a lock set for it and not needing to drain/fill it before use.

As commercial traffic declined some of the duplicate locks were closed, some were filled in while others, like 48 at Church Lawton, were simply stanked off and left to decay.

We managed to find a space on the visitor moorings by Red Bull services and having secured the boat we adjourned to

the eponymous watering hole and excellent it proved to be. It gets our thorough recommendation, good beer, good food and an open fire were just what we were looking for.
Sunday we met up with an old mate of mine from my seafaring days,

MEM(M)1 Devine, S. Better known as Syd. Drink was taken and sea stories swapped as we recalled our misadventures in a previous existence.

Jill and Theresa patiently tolerated us two old farts swinging the lamp. Thank you, ladies, for your forbearance.
This morning we set off up the last four locks to the summit.

Under Pool Lock Aqueduct that carries the Macclesfield Canal over the Trent and Mersey. If you want to be pedantic it is actually a branch of the T & M as the Macc. doesn't start until Hall Green stop lock but now it is generally accepted that it starts at Hardings Wood Junction,

where it heads off under this bridge.

The next canal treat is Harecastle Tunnel. The tunnel now in use was built when Brindley's original tunnel was no longer able to cope with the traffic. The original tunnel, completed in 1777, took eleven years to cut and was a wonder of the age. Telford's later one took only three years and opened in 1827, each tunnel then became one way until the 20thC.  by which time Brindley's bore had sunk due to mining subsidence and was closed. The entrance to it can still be seen to the right.

 So we dived into the subterranean lair of the Kidsgrove Boggart and possibly Kit Crewbucket, two ghosts said to haunt the 2,926 yard long tunnel.

As you travel through the roof becomes lower

and lower, at one point my hat was toughing the tunnel roof.

This comes as a great relief after forty minutes of damp and dark, luckily neither of us are claustrophobic.

Well that's that behind us. As the rain was starting again we decided to call it a day and we have stopped at Westport Lake visitors moorings.

Watch this space........

No comments: