I faced my greatest fear (during this cruise) when I navigated the Harecastle Tunnel – all 2926 yards (or one and three quarter miles) of it!
Here it is. The man with the brolly was the really kind and helpful lock keeper. Note the colour of the water!
And inside the belly of the beast, approaching the end – this is one of the higher parts of the roof – at one point I had to bend over to avoid hitting my head. The boater following me wasn’t as careful and gashed his head, lost control and sheared his chimney off half way down! I’m really glad I only heard this story afterwards and not before I went through!
When I came out the other end, the lock keeper told me the usual transit takes 45 minutes to an hour and I had come through in 35 minutes. I wasn’t going to hang around! Seriously though, the most helpful thing the first lock keeper told me was to keep my speed up to 3-4 mph. That way the bow wave created would help keep me off the tunnel walls. It worked perfectly; the only time I got near the wall was when I slowed down approaching the exit.
Then I had to get through Stoke on Trent and Stone, before returning to my natural habitat – the countryside. For those of you bored of all the pictures of green and pleasant land, here are a few of the sights I saw in town…