Well, it seemed that way, anyway.
We were all ready to go before 10:00, so we upped sticks and set off. Several boats had left before us though, but we thought we may as well join the queue at the tunnel and wait at the tunnel.
Leaving Westport Lake moorings
These were full last night, all facing the same way. After we left there were just three boats moored, and two of those followed us! The boat in the middle of the picture is NB White Atlas, owned by Pete and Dawn, met last at Hawkesbury Junction in February.
The queue wasn’t as bad as expected at the tunnel, three boats in front when we arrived.
We had a wait of around an hour while the preceding north-bound convoy went through, and a south-bound boat came the other way. It’s only wide enough for one boat, and it takes around 40 minutes to go through. The tunnel-keepers organise passage to save any confusion (and argument).
Into the hole under the hill, 2926 yards back to daylight.
The south portal mounts large fans which draw air through the tunnel. It was built without ventilation shafts and the air would soon become foul if it were not freshened artificially.
Thirty-five minutes later, emerging into daylight near Kidsgrove Station.
The ochre colour is dissolved iron oxide in the water feeding in inside the tunnel.
Holding off for a Canal Cruising Company hire boat leaving Lock 41, the first of the downhill ones on the north side of the summit.
Hardings Wood Junction up to the Macclesfield Canal is just off-camera to the left.
We stopped below the lock for a trip to Tesco’s to top up the supplies. We intended to stay overnight here, we’ve done so before, but an abandoned and semi-derelict plastic cruiser had attracted the local kids like flies on poo, so we decided to drop down another two locks, fill and empty at Red Bull Services, then stop on the 48 hour moorings beyond.
Dropping down Lock 42, White Atlas on the left, us on the right, Poole Aqueduct carrying the Hardings Wood Branch to the Macclesfield Canal beyond.
A bit of a queue at Red Bull Lock, number 43.
The 25 Cheshire locks, which we’re at the top of, were paired to improve traffic flow. It still works well now, but every so often one of the two parallel chambers is not in use which causes a bit of a bottle-neck. The second chamber at Lock 43 is under the pub garden!
We just managed to squeeze onto the end of the moorings (OK, we’re overlapping the lock landing by a couple of feet…), finally tying up at around 4 o’clock. It has seemed a very long day, with very little to show for it!
More shopping tomorrow, the fresh stuff, then we’ll move a bit further down the flight, probably to Church Lawton, to sit out the rest of the weekend.
Locks 3, miles 3¾