18 October 2019
Today was gonna be a biggie.
We were originally supposed to pass through the Harecastle Tunnel on Day 1. But due to our last minute change of plans, we were now passing through on Day 14.
But first things first.
Ellie-McBoat-Face could sense the excitement and put on her best “McBoat-Face” face.
We had only three locks left for the whole journey, and they were just around the corner.
Admiral Long John set sail , while the deckhands headed forward on foot, armed with their trusty windlasses.
Grahame had the privilege of closing off the final gate behind us, as Ellie transported us back to Stoke-on-Trent.
This was cause for a celebration of sorts and we felt the need to record the occasion with very bad selfies.
It wasn’t much further down the canal to the Harecastle Tunnel.
The canal runs deep under Harecastle Hill for 2.6 km. It is only wide enough for a single boat, so canal traffic is managed by sending alternating northbound and southbound groups of boats through the tunnel.
There was a boat already in the tunnel, coming our way, when we arrived so we had to wait 30 minutes or so before it emerged.
The Tunnel supervisor guy gave us our pre entry safety instructions and checked that our head light and horn were working.
The boys had to don life vests as part of the OHS requirements. Judi and I donned our warm jackets and promised to stay seated up the front.
There was time for another selfie before all the cabin lights were turned on and Ellie was pronounced ship shape. We were finally allowed to enter.
We took around 30 minutes to pass through. It was eerie, cold and wet with water dripping from the very low ceiling.
Someone, years ago added a little artwork to entertain us along the way.
The light at the end of the tunnel slowly grew larger but it seemed to take forever.
This end of the tunnel was so pretty.
The Whitehouse was where the tunnel keeper lived. He could sit at his window and keep an eye out for boats wanting to enter the tunnel.
The other building is the Fan House which is used to pump fresh air through the tunnel to help disperse diesel fumes.
The original tunnel, now disused, was replaced. It must have been a nightmare to pass through. It had no towpath , so the navvies would lay on the roof of the boat and “leg it” through the 2 1/2 kms. Exhausting claustrophobic work!!!
We moored nearby in order to record our successful journey through the mountain. It was another opportunity for bad selfies.
We ticked off another Geocache before setting sail.
Ellie was now approaching the outskirts of Stoke-On-Trent , passing the old pottery factories and kilns for which the area is famous.
Some were in better condition than others!
We pulled up at a lovely park and had lunch. Grahame and John tried to make friends with a swan. Unsuccessfully it seems.
Just around the corner was the Black Prince Marina. Ellie was home.
Dinner was at Tobys Carvery, the same place Grahame and I had dined two weeks ago. time really does fly when you’re having fun!!
We sat around the table and made a few calculations:
This was our last night on board and I had a master plan to wipe the floor in Sequence!!
It didn’t work !!
Sequence: Partlands v Marjoribanks . Partlands win. STUPID STUPID STUPID GAME!!!!
- Judi 8
- Grahame 6
- John 6
- Jenny 40 😛😋