Saturday, 3 January 2015

On the move at last

IMG_5406On Wednesday morning there was a lot of shouting from the boats in front of us and the noise of an engine being run very fast. With in a minute a boat came past us breaking through the ice at full speed . The other boaters were telling him to stop or slow down as they were concerned about the ice that he was ploughing through would take off their blacking , but he wasn't going to do either. The ice was so thick that if he had slowed down he would have stopped. At least one good thing came of it, as you can see in the picture all that shiny metal on the waterline is where he has lost his blacking. That should cost him a few hundred quid to get fixed..

IMG_5419These Swans didn't know what to do with the ice and couldn't understand what was going on.

IMG_5424With the ice melting and us getting itchy feet to move Carolyn decided to cycle with Fran back into Wolverton and pick up a few bits and pieces. She still doesn't look that steady,but she made it there and back all in one piece.


IMG_5452At last we are on the move again and are soon passing the Navigation at Thrupp Wharf . The pub has been closed for some time but now it looks like work has started on something or other. Lets hope it stays as a pub as there are far to many closing down.

IMG_5471With loads of Gongoozlers (Canal watchers) out and about and most of them wanting to help Carolyn with the locks, we soon made it up to the top of the Stoke Bruerne flight of seven locks. Carolyn loves explaining to people how everything on the canals works and about how we live on a boat.

IMG_5481Entering the 3076 yards of The Blissworth tunnel. Myself and Carolyn have never been bothered about the myths and stories of Ghosts in tunnels ,but we know a lot of people who just don't like them. The story below may make a few people nervous when going through Blissworth tunnel.

Blisworth tunnel is one of the longest in Britain. 3076 yards long and broad throughout - so that two narrowboats can pass This made it the most troublesome part of the Grand Junction Canal’s construction. When work began, in 1793, the building of a 3km tunnel was a major feat of engineering with no mechanical aids beyond the basic picks, shovels and wheelbarrows being available. Unfortunately, just three years into the project, the navvies hit quicksand. All work had to be abandoned and a new course begun.
The opening of Blisworth Tunnel in March 1805 represented the final link in a chain of communications linking London with the industrial midlands and the north. Since then, the tunnel has given almost 200 years of service, aided by major rebuilding work in the 1980s. But one sorry tale from its construction has since come back to haunt today’s boaters...
Just over a decade ago a couple set off on a narrowboat tour on the Grand Union Canal from a base north of Blisworth Tunnel. They were new to boating and had been through various safety checks and demonstrations on the use of their craft. They also had full details of the route ahead of them and were looking forward to the trip. One of the highlights of their cruise was to be the journey through Blisworth Tunnel, at that time the longest open canal tunnel. As they would enter the tunnel soon after setting off, they were naturally both excited... and a little nervous.
There is no towpath, so in the days of horse-drawn freight boats, men and women would have had to ‘leg’ their narrowboats through it while the horse was led over the hill above. Alternatively, professional leggers could be paid to leg the boat through the tunnel - today, you can still see the leggers’ hut adjacent to the Boat Inn at Stoke Bruerne, just south of the tunnel. The couple taking the boat out had no particular knowledge of the tunnel’s history. After setting off it was only a short time before they chugged into the darkness of the tunnel entrance.
When they emerged some 40 minutes later on the south side at Stoke Bruerne, they visited the Canal Museum where they started talking to a member of the museum staff. They recall their conversation here:
The chap said to me ‘That tunnel’s a weird place. I didn’t know which way to go.’
A bit confused, I answered ‘Sorry, what do you mean?’
The man replied ‘Well, for a split second I didn’t know whether to go straight ahead or turn left where the lights are.’
There’s certainly no left or right turn in that tunnel, it just goes straight through the hill. So, by question and answer I worked out exactly where they were in the tunnel when they saw the lights and the fork - and that’s when I felt my spine tingle.
Because the odd thing was... the man was absolutely right. There actually are two canal tunnels through Blisworth Hill.
From the man’s description, the worker was able to work out where the couple had seen the phantom lights. It was exactly at the spot where the first attempt at a tunnel - which collapsed due to quicksand - would have intersected with the main canal tunnel. Fourteen men died in the collapse of the original tunnel. They had been working in candlelight.

IMG_5487Heading through the repaired section of the tunnel and we cant see any other tunnels yet !

IMG_5491looking up at one of the air vents as you pass through. The tunnel was full of smoke from the boat in front of us and it was becoming very difficult to see ahead,so we stopped here under the vent for a few minutes to allow for the smoke to clear.

We had planned to stop and spend the night at Bugbrooke ,but after mooring up Carolyn went to press the engine stop button and nothing happened. When we looked at the engine control panel it was completely dead . After checking all the wires and terminal blocks it still wasn't working. Luckily after a call to Stewart on nb The Boat we narrowed it down to the engine fuse. Sure enough the 40 amp blade fuse had blown. I only had a 25 amp to replace it with and luckily it is working fine at the moment, although it would be good to know what blew the 40 amp fuse. With heavy rain set for Saturday we will sit it out here then move again on Sunday.


                                                                                         Happy Days


  1. very interesting blog today . don't think I fancy going through that tunnel.keep going Carolyn on your bike.

  2. forgot to say I like the way the swans were just standing there. bet they were sliding about x