8th June 2012
Getting up, I was prepared for a two day cruise to Middlewich which I thought was going to be great with the 1 ½ mile long Harecastle Tunnel. Then I heard this from the BBC News “The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for wind in South West England, the Midlands and the South East, and for wind and rain in Wales. Flood warnings and alerts are in place for Wales and Southern England as the weather system moves North East.” We were in for a right trip!
After two and a bit hours of driving and getting slightly lost (Yes I can map read, but No not well!), we (Richard, Eddie and I) met up at King’s Lock Pub which is next to the lock and moorings for which we were heading, to shuffle cars between there and Etruria.
Driving down the M6 there was rain bouncing off cars and the road. So when we went over a bridge looking at a lock we’d meet on the Trent and Mersey Canal, our smiles turned upside down!
Arriving at Etruria and meeting Python cheered us up, for me just thinking of the fun we had in the flotilla.
As we got ourselves ready to get rather wet, the rain eased a bit whilst we set off. I’ve got to say it was quite pleasant steering on the back of Python heading up to the tunnel in which my sources (Pete) had told me that you’re almost on your knees going through it and I thought it would be a welcome break from the light showers. Arriving at the tunnel, it absolutely poured! We quickly moored, locked ourselves into the hold and got the kettle and frying pan on quite briskly. When the rain lessened, we met the tunnel keeper and took the opportunity to fill up with water as we had an hour’s wait.
The tunnel was great and I started to think that Pete didn’t know what he was on about until, after been shouted to that we were halfway through, it all of a sudden started to get lower (or were we getting bigger?). It wasn’t too bad as at different intervals the tunnel got higher and then lower. (What was James Brindley up to?) Eventually we got to one bit were I was standing on the second step down in the engine room. Overall it was dark, long and had loads of stalactites coming down off the ceiling but I rather enjoyed it and was quite over-excited really but it got me out of the wet and it was good practice for when the last 400 metres of Norwood Tunnel is eventually reopened.
Well after that we met locks and, since it was absolutely pouring down, we decided that we were making good enough time to change the plan. If we could get through all 30 locks and the rest of the 18 ¼ miles to Middlewich, we could be home in time for a warm drink and bed!
So that’s what we did. With it raining, us cheering fellow boaters and walkers up, and locking locks like never before, even with someone walking and setting the next one up, we made good time. The water eventually got through my boots (and I was steering) so I can’t imagine what Richard’s and Eddie’s were like!
We eventually got to Wheelock with a good amount of the locks behind us and only three or four left, so I swapped the helm with Richard.
We got to Middlewich eventually and cut the two day cruise down to an extended soggy single day. The FAB weekend (Folk and Boat Festival) in Middlewich, weather permitting, should be a really great time and that’s where we’ll be over the 15th, 16th and 17th June before heading to Northwich and the Anderton Lift. So if you’re going to be there, whether by boat, car or any other means of transport, we hope to see you, so come and see us!