Thursday, 21 June 2012

Harin' home

New boater's initiation part 2 on Tuesday: through the Harecastle tunnel. This is just under 3000 yards – do whatever conversions you like, that's a pretty long tunnel. I can't get nonchalant about being that far under a hill, in a passage that size, for 40 minutes. They do convoys, and it's moderately comforting to be able to see the lights of the boat in front, but you daren't check the one behind because you don't want to take your eye off your steering. The first and the later sections have reasonable width and head room, but the middle part has bits that close in on you, with a rocky ceiling where someone my height has to shrink or regret it. All rather intense – conversation gets stuttery.

But we're still here to tell the tale, and the tunnel is followed by a long lock-free section where you can drink coffee as you go. Then through Stoke-on-Trent. The website that does trip calculations suggested stopping overnight at the Dolphin boatyard – but that looks one scary place and everyone I've ever asked agrees, so we pushed on to Barlaston. Main priority – a good TV signal for the England game! This coincided with an extremely fragmentary mobile broadband signal, so once again the blog post was delayed.

We started a bit later yesterday, but in the light of the weather forecast for today, decided to see whether we could make it back to Great Haywood. A beautiful sunny afternoon, and we arrived around 6 p.m. That's 3 days on the trot of more than 8 hours travel. By the time I'd washed the tunnel-drip and other accretia from Erin Mae's long-suffering bodywork, the brain had gone to sleep. 5 weeks to the day since we set out. It feels a bit like cheating to be back in the marina.


  1. glad you enjoyed your trip and are now home safe and sound. Regarding moorings in Stoke we have always found outside the Toby Carvery in Festival Park to be great with the added bonus of protein.
    Matthew Flinders

    1. Thank you, Master Flinders, that's a good idea. Although we didn't overnight there, we went to the boatyard there last autumn coming back from the Caldon because we needed a pump-out. Made the mistake of going into the yard instead of tying up on the wharf. That meant we had to inconvenience pedestrians as we raised and lowered the bridge, and also do a 55-point turn to extract ourselves!