Monday, 21 September 2015

Blisworth Tunnel

Stoke Bruerne to Blisworth
2.5 miles, 0 locks, 1 tunnel

We awarded ourselves a slow start today with leisurely showers and a later than normal bowl of cereal before we headed out with Monty to explore the Woodland Walk along the tow path towards the tunnel.

Hidden in the woods we came across first this pony
pulling a cart full of wood.  The cart and pony are made from bent wire and are surprisingly tactile.

then this pair of deer - not a very clear picture, but it was the best I got.  We thought we might find more, but we didn't.

The walk brought us out back on the towpath by the tunnel - this is the centre section of the tunnel from above - it must be a good 20' in diameter.

There are these signs at either end of Stoke Bruerne and they take any overstaying very seriously. Our boat number was noted yesterday when we arrived and then again as we got back to the boat from the walk today.  We stopped to talk to the lady who confirmed that they have 7 volunteers who make the rounds each day.  Any over stayers (or those who use the disabled mooring when not entitled) are reported to C&RT and the appropriate fee is added to their next licence fee.  Having come across so many places (particularly on the K & A) where 24 and 48 hour mooring rules are openly flouted we were pleased it seems to work here, particularly as it is such a favoured spot.  The question surely must be - why cannot this system be applied elsewhere.

Back to the boat and we had a decision to make - to move or not to move?.  We decided to go for it as we only intended going to Blisworth and just over half the journey would be in Blisworth Tunnel, so the rain would not be too much of a problem.  We waterproofed up, put life jackets on and went for it.  We entered just as a boat was about to emerge.

They are nearly out

We are now well over half way through and no sign of any ghosts I am glad to say.  This tunnel is the third longest in the country. Building started in 1793 and navvies worked away by candlelight for 3 years.  Unfortunately they got the calculations wrong and there was a kink and they hit some quicksand that caused a roof collapse which killed 14 men.  They then decided to follow a new route from a point that became known as Buttermilk Hall.  The tunnel opened in 1805. Further tragedy followed in 1861 when a canal steamer known as 'Wasp' travelled to Buttermilk Hall when the smoke from her engine became so thick that visibility was so bad that they crashed head on into a narrow boat being 'legged' through.  More people died and it is said that since then some people have felt a sense of suffocation and others have heard the wailing and splashing of dying men.  I am glad to say we got through unscathed.  Also a first for me - I travelled on the stern with Chris - I usually hide inside with a book and Monty as I am not a fan of enclosed spaces.  This is wide and tall tunnel, so all was well.

After 35 minutes the herbs escaped into daylight

and the rest of the boat escaped soon afterwards into the rain!

We did not have far to go before mooring just past bridge 51.  We passed this boat, but sadly there was no one around as I have a lot of windows that could do with their services!

We settled down with a book each for the afternoon to sit out the rain which was relentless.  The downside of this mooring - no phones and no television, but we do, obviously, have internet. Tomorrow we move on to somewhere near Weedon Bec.

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