Sunday, 27 September 2009

September Cruise - Day Seventeen

Time for Adrian's colleague Alex to go home today. She got a taxi at 9amfrom the aqueduct in Congleton to Macclesfield station, then on to Manchester. In about the same time, we had completed the five miles to the Hall Green stop lock. This one had a drop of about a foot.

It was just after 11am when we moored up near the aqueduct at Red Bull, and walked down the steps to the Trent and Mersey to do some washing at the BW services. We used the time to do a bit of cleaning of the boat. We then had lunch and were ready to set off again at 2pm, to make the short journey to Hardings Wood Juntion. Originally, we'd planned to turn north here, to complete the northern half of the Four Counties Ring. But the closure of the Shroppie means we're having to re-trace our steps back to Norbury Junction. So it was a right turn to the northernportal of the Harecastle Tunnel.

We had to wait about forty minutes for a boat coming north, then set off as the second boat in a convoy of two. The southbound journey through the tunnel seemed very different from the northbound trip just over a week ago. I was very conscious of not being able to see the end, and was much more aware of the changes in height and width of the bore. We saw the doors open for the boat in front, then as they'd clearly been going faster than us, the doors closed again with a resounding clang. As we moved south, the noise from the fans got louder and louder. We seemed quite close to the doors when they swung open. The trip through the tunnel had taken just over 40 minutes.

We moored at around 4pm at Westport Lake, on the northern edge of Stoke. We went for a walk round the lake. There's an impressive new visitor centre which is currnetly surrounded by fencing while landscape work is completed. On returning to the boat, a man from the boat in front asked if we were leaving, as he was planning to run his engine in gear for a while to charge his batteries, and there would be quite a flow. Adrian reminded him that this is against BW byelaws (which was apparently news to him). Anyway, he hasn't turned his engine on yet, so we can only assume that he's waiting until after 8pm, which is also against the rules.

9 miles, 1 lock. (206, 158)

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