Thursday, July 21, 2005

Low Bridges then a Tunnel

Low bridges, bone & flint

Bridge No. 9

Two very low bridges were scraped under, "mind your head", to reach the locks taking us down to the end of the Caldon Canal.  The flowers kept their heads!

We looked round the Bone & Flint Mill Museum. Built for Jesse Shirley in 1857 to supply ground bone and flint for the pottery industry. The mill at Cheddleton was water powered but here a beam steam engine provides the power. Fred Dibner opened the museum some time ago. A modern factory took over the grinding in 1972.

To the tunnel

Set off next day and stopped at Westport Lake Park where super new mooring were inviting. Took a good walk round the huge lake which had plenty of wild birds to see. Picked up broken crockery like shells on the sea shore!

Harecastle Tunnel

Not far to Harecastle tunnel where we had just missed an opening. An hour later we were the first and only boat to go north through the 2 mile (2926yards) tunnel. The canal water turned red from the iron deposits underground. We could see the other end as the doors closed behind us and huge fans blew air through. The noisy wind caused a fine mist to form and it was like going through a fog in a black hole. The old tunnel had sunk in the middle so head clearance was limited. Out the other end into the sunshine again. Not nearly so bad as we had imagined. Boats only go through one way at a time under the strict control of a 'Tunnel keeper' at each end. After scraping under those very low bridges on the Caldon Canal this was easy.

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