Saturday 7 September 2013

Many meetings

We got to the southern end of Harecastle (2926 yards!) tunnel just after a petrol-driven boat had gone through as the last of a convoy, so we had to wait. That's OK – we needed to pick up water. Then it transpired that, after a couple of decades supervising passage through the tunnel, the operators now have to take a mandatory lunch-break. So our wait became two hours! But it was nice to say hello to them again.

The delay gave us the chance to natter with those who started to queue behind us, which was how we met Mike and Lesley on NB Canalgesic. Turned out they moor in our marina at Great Haywood, and are at about the stage of boating that we were at two years ago. Nice to meet you, guys – and glad to see you made it unscathed through the Harecastle (I chatted with them again as they went down one of the locks at the start of "Heartbreak Hill"). Hope you make it safely round the Four Counties.

Just as the convey coming the other way started to emerge from the tunnel, NB Many Meetings attempted to wind in the hole just before the tunnel. Realising this was going to cause something of a traffic jam, they aborted the attempt, but trying again later didn't quite manage to get the bows far enough in before bringing the stern round past the line of waiting boats. Now "Many Meetings" is a Tolkien reference (to be added to my list), and the home location of the boat is on the side as Rivendell. Very nice. Except that on this occasion elvish cunning was somewhat lacking, and a good many more meetings than intended were the result of this particular manoeuvre! Ah well, we've all been there.

Turning up onto the Macclesfield Canal shortly after emerging from the tunnel brought us into new territory, which we are relishing.

It's been delightful so far. Following the contour, or raised to it by an embankment, we've looked out over scenery that has been wonderful even in the showers, a view shared with a place that might indeed merit the title of "The Last Homely House".

We've tied up in the stretch where (as Nicholson's guide puts it) "the canal loses itself in splendid countryside for several miles".


  1. Martin - Canalgesic completed the Four Counties and was back in the marina late Thursday. We would like to thank the boat in front going down Heartbreak Hill for their help at locks.

    1. Well done, you two. That will really set you up for some other grand tour in the future! Look forward to seeing you at the marina some time.