Saturday, May 07, 2011

Tunnel Vision

We had RAIN last night! Heavy showers bounced off the roof at intervals throughout the night, but it was fine and clear when I went off for my morning run.

It wasn’t to last, however, and started again as we were thinking about getting away at 10:30. There were a few boats about this morning, but they didn’t look too happy!

It was on and off for the next couple of hours, but we decided to pull pins at 12:30, which would just give us time to get to Saltersford Tunnel for the 1 o’clock “window”.

Around the blind bend under Barnton Bridge and we came into the basin just before Barnton Tunnel. There was a boat coming out, and he shouted across that there was another behind. So we pulled over to wait.

Waiting for Barnton Tunnel

There’s a lump of high ground, rising to 170 feet, and forcing the River Weaver to do a long loop to the south. Barnton village is built on it. Brindley had no intention of following the river valley, so had two tunnels cut through the edge of the ridge. These are Barnton and Saltersford Tunnels, and are separated by a basin in a fold of the hill. Surveying techniques being what they were in the 1770’s, the tunnels are not dead straight, although you can just about see through Barnton. No chance with Saltersford though, with a sharp S bend in the middle you are a third of the way through before you can see daylight at the other end. Both are only single width, and must have been “interesting” during commercial days. With the rise in popularity of leisure boating, and with hire bases either end of the tunnels, BW recently introduced a timed passage system to avoid disputes. Northbound boats are allowed in on the hour and have a 20 minute window, southbound it’s on the half-hour. These only apply to Saltersford though, hence the reason we were waiting for boats to clear Barnton before we could go through.

There were two boats in the tunnel, the first being an ex-working boat (I’ve forgotten the name), and then we were clear to proceed.

“There’s another coming”

Out into the basin between the tunnels.

We went into Saltersford at around 10 past 1, and were out again at 20 past.

From the tunnel the canal runs through woodland hanging onto the slope above the water meadows.

The Weaver is just down on the right.

With the damp atmosphere all the aromas seemed intensified today. Wild garlic, blossom, wet leaves and soil combined with the smell of diesel exhaust and fresh paint to make a scent that is distinctly “Spring on the Canal”.

After Bridge 206 the canal breaks out of the woods, giving views across the valley to Weaverham.

Misty across the valley.

We pulled in a little further along here.

It’s been a damp trip, but it’s very mild. We’ll not be moving tomorrow, good TV here means that I can enjoy the Turkish GP.

Locks 0, miles 2

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