Bugbrooke to Blisworth...
We made it in good time to Blisworth tunnel entrance and prepared ourselves for a soaking in this notoriously wet tunnel.
|Entering the tunnel|
|Looking up at a vent shaft|
|Narrowly missing a soaking|
At 3,076 yards (2,813m) long it is the third-longest navigable canal tunnel on the UK canal network after Standedge Tunnel and Dudley Tunnel (and the ninth-longest canal tunnel in the world). At its deepest point it is ca.143 feet (ca.43m) below ground level.
There was some major rebuilding of the tunnel in the 1980s, with sections lined with pre-cast concrete rings. It was also used to test out the materials that were later used on the Channel Tunnel. One of the unused rings is on display just outside the south portal.
|A cross section of tunnel|
We took a quick stroll through to Stoke Bruerne and the afternoon sun came out for a couple of photos. We'll spend a bit more time here on the way back up the GU but we wanted to press on a bit on Thursday as the forecast isn't too good for the next few days, back to wind and rain unfortunately.
|Stoke Bruerne in the sun shine|
|Museum and visitor moorings|
|Now look, I've had a belly full of gongoozlers all weekend, it's time for a bit of me time. Got any bread...|
We stuck to the plan on Thursday based on the fact that the sky would be clear and the winds light first thing but getting worse as the day went on. We pulled pins at 06.15 and whispered through the village and first and second locks. Rather surprisingly we meet a single handed boater at the third lock and shared the work down. Another tough set of locks with several upper gates well under water and pounds overflowing. I thought at one stage we would have to start letting water through to lower the pound level.
|Downwards and onwards|
|Plenty of spare water here.|
By 08.00 we were through the locks, moored up at the facilities block emptying and filling the required tanks and tucking into breakie and insulated mugs of tea. The wind had picked up and through spots of rain we could see torrential downpours on the horizon. Luckily we skirted most of them.
Around a picturesque corner I spied activity outside a familiarly named boat. It was Mick readying parisien star for the off. I have read a couple of times of Mick's confusion as boaters he's never met greet him as a long lost friend. You see its Elly's blog and Mick admitted not being a blog reader, so apologies to Mick but I had to join in with the confusion. We managed a quick wave to Elly and look forward to meeting them on the GU later on. Elly and Mick are on their way to Gary and Dave for a new drive plate and an engine service. Even though we haven't properly met its amazing what you can find out on other people's blogs - no secrets here :-)
We made it as far as Cosgrove and moored up for the day with the wind getting steadily stronger and the sky steadily darker, time to get the fire lit.