Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Looking for Golem

Tunnel Entrance

Yesterday we had planned to go through the Harecastle Tunnel, but arrived a bit too late. There was no room to turn around, so I ended up having to play the role of “tow horse” and pull the boat backwards (It is almost impossible to actually drive the boat backwards) to a safe mooring spot for the night.

Today we actually went through the tunnel. It was quite an experience. Rather than go around the big hill in their way, or build a huge chain of locks, they decided to dig a tunnel right through the hill. This tunnel was started in 1770 and took 7 years to complete. The tunnel is almost 2700 meters long, and takes around 45 minutes to make your way through. It is just 9 feet wide at it’s widest, and about 12 feet high. It is lower in the middle, and going through in a narrowboat you have to duck your head  for a long time. There is no lighting, so you must turn on your boat headlamp, but there is not light on the back of the boat, so you are in complete darkness back by the tiller.
That is really all you can see for 40 minutes

Approaching the tunnel in the morning, we were met by the tunnel keepers, who gave us a complete course in “tunnel navigation” when they knew we had not done it before, but the boat following us flashed their headlamp, blew their horn and were allowed to proceed; obviously experienced boaters. We were told to maintain a certain speed or you tend to bounce off the side walls, and were told how to call for help by sounding our horn repeatedly until we got a reply. Then we were sent off.

Finally the light at the end.
It is quite an experience. The tunnel is a brick lined arch with water in the bottom. The bricks drip water all the way through, and in places water pours in from the side. It takes about 40 minutes to go through, and after a few moments at the beginning and a few moments at the end, you are in complete pitch darkness. Your headlight pierces the darkness for a bit, but only really shows you the sides and illuminates the dripping slimy bricks for a few yards ahead of you. There are rumors of a  ghostly Boggart living in the tunnel, but Margaret said she expected to see Golem from The Hobbit.
Tunnel Exit

In it’s heyday when the canal was an important means of transportation, the boats did not have engines, and there was no tow path, so the horses were led over the hill to wait for the boat, and the boaters had to “Leg” it through by lying on the top of their boat and walking through. This took them over three hours. I am not claustrophobic, but after 40 minutes, I was glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Of course you can find anything on the internet and if you are interested, this is a time-laps movie of a narrowboatgoing through the tunnel.



  1. Just when you think it's going to end, another turn!

  2. Thanks for all of the entries, Art! I love reading these!

  3. The "tunnel" blog was "precious" (LoTR!!!). Great reading, as always!

  4. Wow! That video was in fast forward and IT seemed to take forever ... can't imagine how glad you were to see that light at the end of the tunnel!!