We slipped the mooring and pulled alongside the fueling jetty for a pump out and diesel top up. After thanking the marina staff we got underway. We may only have been away for a few days but it felt like an age. We were so happy to be on the cut again.
By Teapot Hall the locals were out watching us leave though who she was we do not know.
|Once again we were watched as we left.|
|Never seen a tent used in this manner before.|
|Unusual design on this bridge|
|Two Lock keepers cottages I mentioned before|
|The colour of this rabbit caught our attention. It did not look like a wild one and could have escaped.|
We had intended to moor up by Harecastle tunnel and do a shop at the nearby Tescos but no sooner had we moored we were told we could proceed. The tunnel keeper was really good and asked us to show our tunnel light and sound the horn. He then asked me to stop in the tunnel entrance and explained what was required of us. He also checked our top box fitted under the new height board for clearance. It went under with inches to spare. Once the emergency horn sounding procedure was explained of a long blast every 30 seconds until answered with 3 short replies we were allowed to proceed.
|The familiar North portal of Harecastle tunnel and the height check board.|
Despite the worry about head room Chris and I had been much looking forward to going through. Interestingly the doors were not closed behind us and fans started. We assumed it was because there was only us and a boat in front some way off. We later found out why.
|Just inside the tunnel portal you can see how low the check board is. Would we get through OK?|
|Still plenty of headroom|
|The lowest section ahead. You can see the painted edge in the distance ahead clearly as you approach|
At the 1100meter mark the roof begins to rise again and eventually the light from the South Portal could be seen. 400m from the end the doors suddenly slammed shut in front of us and the fans came on. All of a sudden a thick fog enveloped us.as the fans purged the fumes through the tunnel. So that was why the doors remained open when we entered. Then within minutes the fug cleared, the fans turned off and the doors re opened much to our relief.
|Almost clear at last.|
|Looking back at the South portal and boats getting ready to enter.|
According to legend a young woman was decapitated in the Telford Tunnel in the 1800s and her body thrown into Gilbert's Hole, a coal landing stage within the tunnel. The man had hacked the woman's head from her shoulders with a piece of slate until it was removed.
It is believed that she now haunts Harecastle Tunnel, either in the form of a headless woman, or a white horse, and her appearance used to forewarn of disaster in the local mines. Some boatmen took long detours to avoid the tunnel, and today the tunnel keepers relate tales of occasional mismatches in the number of boats going in and coming out. Such tales are, however, fanciful, as any such discrepancy would result in a major search operation.
In fact there is no record of any such murder, and the story seems to have been inspired by the murder of Christina Collins in similar circumstances near Rugeley. The association with another canal ghost 'Kit Crewbucket', who haunts the Crick Tunnel, would also seem to be spurious. Locally the Kidsgrove boggart is known as the Kickrew Buggart because of the local dialect in which Kidsgrove is called kickroo or Kickrew as the dialect is not written down the spelling is optional.
I'm glad to say we did not see the Boggart on our trip this time.
We then came to Westport Lake which looked quite nice so we decided as the rain was still in we would stop for the day. You guessed it, once more, within 30 minutes the rain stopped.
One word of warning when passing through Harecastle tunnel if I may. Do wipe down your boat roof afterwards as soon as you can. AmyJo was covered with Yellow droplets of water. Seems where the water is dripping from the tunnel roof it now contains the very iron ore that tinges the water Orange. If not cleaned off straight away it will stain the boat roof.
|Our mooring at Westport lake|
|Westport Lake visitors centre Modeled on Noah's Ark one wonders?|
|View across the lake|
|AmyJo can just be seen in the gap between the bushes from the opposite side of the lake.|
|Our mooring looking from a nearby bridge|