I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Looking for Golem
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 headfor 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.
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.