Tuesday, 8 September 2009

We made it through

A short but satisfying day.

The first highlight of the day was passing the station at Consall Forge.

DSCN1845 Having read up on the tunnel, I had resigned myself to not being able to make it but coming out of Flint Mill Lock there was still the feeling of “will she or won’t she”. It looked vaguely promising when approaching the gauge below the lock.

DSCN1847 The front edge of the roof didn’t clear the gauge with it looking as if the handrails were going to be a problem.

DSCN1849 There was plenty of clearance for the back edge of the roof, about an inch. This did mean that getting through the tunnel was a possibility as the gauge is supposed to be a bit pessimistic.

Continued down the canal, which is quite narrow in places.

DSCN1855 When I arrived at the tunnel I decided to move a bit of ballast around as the front was a couple of inches higher than the back. I don’t know if it really made much of a difference, but my approximate measurements seemed to change. Despite concentrating on taking a picture I just managed to miss the edge of the tunnel as I entered, it seems that this edge does get hit quite often.

DSCN1856 It certainly is low in the tunnel, and I couldn’t see what was happening up front.

DSCN1858 As I felt that knowing what was happening up front was the most important thing, I decided to go to the front and push the boat along with my hands. This worked pretty well although I did manage to scrape one of the handrails once, but they need painting anyway.

I think that the lowest point of the tunnel is fairly near the start as there looked to be more room looking back along the roof of the boat. There seemed to be plenty of clearance and with a bit more care I wouldn’t have touched the roof at all.

DSCN1860 Once through the tunnel it was down the first lock of the Uttoxeter arm and onto the pontoon moorings in the basin, which I had all to myself.

DSCN1873  As I made it here I decided to stay the night. There are some waymarked walks, and I headed off long one of these with Lyra after lunch. We followed the route of one of the old tramways that brought the limestone down to the canal, then turned across a field, then turned again, so were heading roughly towards the canal again. Then I lost the waymarks but followed a path that was headed in roughly the right direction. It then wandered it’s way through the woods and I was beginning to wonder where we were heading. I wasn’t lost, but only on the basis that you’re not lost if you know where you came from, and I was close to retracing my steps. Eventually we reached a road and I could see a tall chimney in the distance which I assumed was the same one I had seen at the other side of the tunnel, so headed in that direction. This proved to be the right way and eventually we go back to the wharf. At some point when unsure of my location I must have crossed the tramway that I followed up the hill, but somehow managed to miss it. It was a very nice walk though.

Up until this evening it had been a wonderful day, how could it possibly get better? I was sitting outside having a cup of coffee when I heard the wonderful sound of a Bolinder approaching. I now have a neighbour in the basin, the Thomas Clayton tar boat Spey.

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