Thursday, 7 June 2012

Leaving Crick - day 2

As we'd made such good progress yesterday, there was no need to make a flying start this morning.  Even so, we were up at about 8, and ready to set off at 9.  The forecast was for rain all day, but it was dry and relatively warm.  Naturally, I took the inevitable photo of the mill at Blisworth as we headed for the tunnel.

At Blisworth tunnel, everyone seemed to have had the idea of getting through early.  We passed five boats coming the other way.  Most were passed without incident; the second boat was a hire boat who appeared to have come to a stop, so his bow had drifted out into the middle and there was something of a coming together.  He'd have been better off to keep going, to retain some steering.

I was on the look out for the side tunnel I'd seen last time we passed thorough Blisworth, and had primed Neil to look out for it too.  I saw it again, but Neil didn't, so there's still no independent verification that I'm not just imagining things!  If anyone else is coming this way, could you look out for it please?  Coming south, the side tunnel goes off to the left about two thirds of the way through (that's in the brick part south of the concrete section).  It looks like a small tunnel, and appears to be illuminated.

At Stoke Bruerne, boats have begun gathering for the Gala Weekend this weekend.  We saw the cheese boat and a candy floss boat, and several old working boats, including the imposing Victoria.

At the locks, the first lock was empty.  We were pretty sure there were no boats close behind us in the tunnel, and none of the moored boats were likely to be coming down, so we turned the lock and hoped to catch up a boat going down ahead.  In spite of the uninspiring weather, there were some hardy half-term gongoozlers to watch us go down.

We met boats coming up at some locks, and eventually the lock keeper asked the boat in front to wait for us.  The third lock down has a ground paddle out of action, and the lock took an age to come to a level.  All in all, it seemed to be a bitty passage down the locks -- without the quick and smooth progress of yesterday.

Shortly after the locks were behind us, the rain began.  It wasn't that hard, and it wasn't windy, which was welcome when we reached Thrupp Wharf Marina.  The entrance is angled backwards and rather tricky, and reversing into our berth can also be difficult.  In addition, I had Neil and Kath, experienced boaters, on board, watching my every move.  Fortunately, all manoeuvres were completed in a satisfactory manner, and we were soon secured on the jetty.  Once we were inside, the downpour really started, and had continued on and off all afternoon.

We had lunch, I put some washing on, then got the car out the car park and drove Kath and Neil back to Crick.  Work to dismantle the show was well underway; a narrowboat and a widebeam were on the backs of lorries, a huge crane was there, and another widebeam appeared to be waiting to be lifted out.  While I was at Crick Marina, I bought some kindling so I could light the fire when I got back to the boat.  It's actually not that cold, but it's very damp and I need to help the washing dry.

9 miles, 7 locks  (54 miles, 42 locks)


Alan Fincher said...


I observed the side tunnel very clearly in Blisworth on a recent Southbound passage.

I'd say it is easily tall enough for someone to climb into, and it appears almost immediately to turn right into another passageway, presumably parallel to the tunnel itself, at least for some distance.

When I have spotted it before, I have seen light in it, but on this occasion nothing - quite unlit. Whether it connects to a vertical air-shaft offset to one side of the tunnel, I have no idea, but I find it hard to imagine it is ever illuminated by any artificial lighting in those very remote locations.

All in all a bit odd. It is actually very easy to spot, if actively looking for it, and I'm quite surprised one fails to notice if you are not, but, for me at least, if not actively looking, then I wouldn't spot it.

I'm surprised there seem to be few references to its existence. Might be worth asking either David Blagrove or Mike Partridge, (who runs the "Charlie" trip boat), what if anything they know about it.

Halfie said...

After reading this post I looked out for the side tunnel as we came through a week ago. I did see it, and saw that there was indeed light in it. It's well above water level and looks like an adit angling northwards for twenty feet or more. The tunnel glistened orange, as if stained by iron ore.

I even had my camera ready, but, by the time I realised what it was, the moment had passed.

Alan Fincher said...

Yes, I got a better look at it coming North a few days ago.

Last time, I thought I was looking at something that did an almost immediate turn to the right, but this time it looked very different, but broadly in line with what Halfie has described. (I think you may get a different impression from a fleeting glimpse going North, versus the same thing travelling South ?

It actually starts with a passage running away from the tunnel, (not at 90 degrees, I would say), and this could be as much as 20 feet long, (I'm not sure), but this time it clearly had light visible at the end of it. The only explanation for this could be that there is a vertical shaft up to the surfaces well offset from the line of the main tunnel.