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Friday, 31 May 2013

Our First Visitors.

We were up and off early today to get to the Harecastle Tunnel for the first passage. The morning was lovely until we approached the tunnel when the mist came down and blocked the sun. We arrived at about 0745 to find that the first passage was from South to north so went through more or less straight away with just a tug and butty ahead of us.

Southern Portal of Harecastle Tunnel.

There are actually three tunnels, two canal and one railway. The first one took eleven years for Brindley and his men to build and it opened in 1777. The tunnel provided access to tunnles to underground coal seams too. There was no tow path and the boats had to be 'legged' through and the tunnel became a bottleneck. I second tunnel was decided on and the great Thomas Telford was engaged. This time advancements had the tunnel completed in three years and opened in 1827. This one had a tow path for the horses to tow through. Each of the tunnels took one way traffic for a time. The original tunnel became unusable through subsidence in 1914 and there for an electric tug was used to pull the boats through the second tunnel. This lasted until 1954 when the non powered boats almost disappeared so the tugs were dispensed with and a forced ventilation system was introduced so that powered boats could use the 2926 yd long tunnel. The htird tunnel is the Railway tunnel.

North portal of the Harecastle Tunnel with the original tunnel entrance to the right and the control cabin.

Once through the tunnel we found a mooring as we were meeting my brother Neal and his wife Sue along with the dog Poppy. The water either end of the tunnel is always bright orange as the water that seeps through the hill and into the tunnel carries a lot of particles of ironstone.

Waiting for our first visitors.

Our new comers arrived promptly at 1000 and after a cup of tea and a chat we set off. We were soon at Hardings Wood Junction and meeting boats going every way. We also saw a young lad fall of a hire boat. He was soon fished out and his Mum told us he had fallen in everyday of the holiday! We turned left on to the Macclesfield Canal and were soon crossing over the Trent and Mersey that had gone down a few locks. The whole thing confused a couple of cyclists as they asked us what canal we were on, and where does it go, as we were just about to go over the aqueduct. After giving the information there was a brief argument between them and they jumped on their bikes and we next saw then heading north on the Trent and Mersey. There was a bit of a hold up at Hall Green Lock as the Duke and Duchess hotel boats went through. It is only really a stop lock of 1 ft. After this the canal was pretty quiet on the whole.

Hardings Wood Junction just about to turn on to the Macclesfield Canal.

The country side was very pleasant and with the sun shining it was a very good day. The turn over bridges on the Macclesfield Canal are a bit of a feature as there curves make them very photogenic. They were made so that when the towpath changed banks the barge towing horse could cross over without having to undo the tow line.

Turn-over bridge on the Macclesfield Canal near Congleton.

Ramsdell Hall, Cheshire.

Helen was very glad that we had visitors today as she had it easy going up the twelve Bosley Locks. These are mainly nicely close together and easy to work. They were also all with us as there was a steady flow of boats coming our way. With three lock wheeling it took us just over the hour to get to the top. It was starting to cool off by the time we approached Macclesfield and the scenery was still good as we saw up into the Peak District.

Our Visitors with the Peaks in the background.

Here is the front view too.

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