Thursday, March 28, 2013

Through the hill and round the corner.

Before we left Westport we had another walk around the lake. It was a bright and sunny start to the day after a sharp frost, cold enough to once again leave ice on the canal.

Seven o’clock, sunny but decidedly parky!
SAM_4864 Ice

Meg had an “up close and personal” encounter with a goose…SAM_4865 Hello Goose

…which ended up with a kiss and make up!SAM_4867 Hello Goose
It was actually very amiable. The goose started out by strutting it’s stuff, but couldn’t understand why Meg didn’t react. Meg just wanted to be friends, and that’s how they left it.

I tried to get a picture of a coot on it’s nest, but they’re so tame that she thought I was bringing food.

Gimme, gimme!

We had to get past a swan with a serious attitude problem on the way back, Meg decided that this was one bird she had no time for.

No talking to a wound-up swan…SAM_4874 Swan with attitude

Looking across the lake.Panorama

The visitor centre was built to be eco-friendly, with straw bale walls, solar panels and a roof covered in plants. SAM_4875 Visitor Ctr
It also looks like it could float, given half the chance. Maybe it’s Stoke’s Ark?

It was close to 11:00 by the time we got away, no hurry for today with the tunnel only a mile along the canal.

Moore2Life at Harecastle Tunnel south portalSAM_4882 Harecastle Tunnel

The ventilator house, with three large extraction fans, sits astride the entrance. There are no vertical ventilation shafts in this tunnel, so air is drawn through from the north end. Steel doors close off this end once the boats are in. This produces a curious phenomena. As the fans start up the air pressure in the tunnel drops, and a mist forms as the damp atmosphere reaches dew point. It only lasts seconds, but can be disconcerting....

SAM_4884 Harecastle TunnelThere are various watercourses feeding in to the tunnel, some of them through strata carrying iron ore. These produce the ochre colour more noticeable at the Kidsgrove end of the tunnel. They also stain the flowstone formations on the ceiling and walls.

The ceiling is dry but quite low near the middleSAM_4886 Harecastle Tunnel

Out of the other end, 2926 yards and 36 minutes later.SAM_4890 Kidsgrove end
James Brindley’s 1777 tunnel is in the centre of the picture and has been impassable since early last century. Thomas Telford built the one we use today, completing it in 1827. There’s also a redundant railway tunnel through the hill, 40 feet higher than the canal tunnels.

We followed Chas and Ann round the corner at Hardings Wood Junction, left first then two rights, taking the branch over the top of the Trent and Mersey main line above Pools Locks.

Moore2Life turning left under the junction bridgeSAM_4892 Hardings Wood

Note the use of “branch”, and “main line”. Although now considered part of the Macclesfield Canal, this short length of about a mile to Hall Green Stop Lock was built by the Trent and Mersey Canal Company as the Hall Green Branch, making an end-on connection with the later canal. They were canny, the T&M directors. Using this method, they were able to control water supplies and tolls on their very lucrative venture.
They did the same at Middlewich, on a smaller scale. They built the 51 yard long Wardle Canal to link up with the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

On the last right hand bend we passed Red Bull Services, almost exactly a year later than when Seyella was having cosmetic surgery on her nether regions. I’m pleased to report that the blacking has stayed on this time!

Mooring up just past Pools Aqueduct
SAM_4896 Aqueduct moorings

After a trip to Tesco’s and dog walking duty I set to and sawed up some of the branches on the roof, reducing the heap to maybe just over half. More in the morning, I guess.

I spoke to Brian on fuel boat NB Alton earlier, as we’ll both be looking for a top up at some point. They’re up at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port, this weekend for the historic boat gathering, then will be heading back to base at Oak Grove, near Macclesfield. Leaving the museum on Monday, they expect to be home on Wednesday. They don’t hang about, do they!

Thanks, Nev, for your comment on yesterday's post. I enjoyed researching that, but doing so revealed that I barely scratched the surface of the network in and around the Potteries. More to do, I reckon.

Locks 0, miles 3½


Carol Palin said...

Yo! Look out for ‘boaters gold’ in the first five miles, all on the towpath side.

Geoff and Mags said...

Thanks Carol, although the "Yo" tells me this was probably George!
I maybe shouldn't have published this comment, it might all be gone now!