Trip Start Apr 02, 2012
67Trip End Oct 31, 2012
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tunnel (2926yds) single passage through Harecastle Hill
Went out for my pre breakfast walk to buy a newspaper, bread and milk from Tunstall which is only a short walk (about 15 minutes) from the lake. There is an Aldi and an Asda set back from the main street but I wanted to find a small general shop. I have been through Tunstall on a similar quest twice before but sadly there is no small general store that I could find either then or now. I started to walk back and popped into a small bakery and bought some bread, a pound shop and bought a bottle of milk and passed a greengrocers (these are sadly few in number now). Called in to buy some green veg and discovered they sell both bread and milk too. Must remember this for next time. I do like walking through towns and cities early in the morning or in the evening when most shops are shut
By the time we left this morning, we were the only boat still at the visitors mooring. All other boats had long gone. We don't do early starts. When we went to Macclesfield a couple of years ago we noted some lovely places to stop but we were on a tight schedule to meet our friend Joy in Macclesfield who was meeting up with us and staying for a few days. We have a good opportunity to explore it a bit now as we don't need to be in Macclesfield till Thursday next week.
We moved most of our stuff on the roof into the cabin because the Harecastle Tunnel has very little headroom. The person at the helm has to duck down at various points through it. We arrived at the tunnel and had about a 40 minute wait before we were allowed in. There is only one way traffic allowed through and there are friendly tunnel keepers at either end to supervise. As it turned out we were the only boat in the tunnel when it was our turn
There are actually 3 parallel tunnels through the hill. The first was built by James Brindley in 1777. There was no towpath in the tunnel and boats at that time were drawn by horses so the boats had to be legged through while the towing horse was walked over the hill. Quite a feat to leg a 20+ ton boat through a 1 and 3/4 mile tunnel. This slow means of propulsion caused quite a bottle neck of traffic on the navigation so in 1822 Thomas Telford was called in who recommended that a second tunnel, with a towing path, running parallel to the first be constructed. Each tunnel became one way until the 20th C when Brindley's bore had sunk so much through subsidence that it had to be abandoned. The third tunnel was built years later to carry the Stoke - Kidsgrove railway line. It runs 40 ' above the canal tunnels and is slightly shorter. It was closed in the 1960's and the railway line now runs round the hill.
We found a good mooring place just at the beginning of the Macclesfield canal and managed to get our garden out of the living room and back on the roof before it began to rain heavily. When/if the rain stops one of us will go in search of the co-op to buy some sugar as I have a Herman (cake) to be made and some elderflower cordial to be finished.