As we were moored close to the north portal of Harecastle Tunnel, this morning we just waited for one boat to come through from the other end and then the way was clear for us. It was the first time we had seen another boat on the move since returning at the weekend.
There are two canal tunnels here, the original James Brindley tunnel can be seen on the right of the photo. The original working boats had to be legged through, a team of men laying on their backs and 'legging' the boat through, with their feet 'walking' along the tunnel walls. The horses had to walk over the top.
This slow progress caused great traffic jams on the Trent & Mersey until Thomas Telford dug another tunnel alongside, with a towpath making life easier for the boatmen. A problem with subsidence in the Brindley tunnel caused by the mineworks nearby meant it had to close to boat traffic.
The Telford tunnel now operates on a one way system, with a fan running to keep the air clear. It seems strange when travelling north/south not to be able to see 'the light at the end of the tunnel' as there are doors closed across whilst the fans are working and these are opened by the tunnel keeper just as the boat approaches.
As we emerged from the darkness, it wasn't just light that greeted us, but snow too.
Making our way to Etruria the snow began to fall more heavily and it was a very cold job steering Tacet. Whilst I was at the tiller,struggling to see with snow hitting my eyes, I heard a splash and looked around to see a black dog swimming towards me.
It really did not seem to be a good idea, swimming in a February snowstorm, I don't know what he was thinking!
I had to summon Ian up from the warm and then as Jumble got close enough to the counter, I hauled him up and received a shower for my trouble.
After a rub down, he ran up and down the boat, rubbing himself on the chairs, carpet, bedding and anything else he could, and shaking himself too. What a mess, the cupboards and radiators splashed with muddy marks and a soggy trail on the carpet all the way through. grrrrrr.
Arriving at Etruria we turned onto the Caldon Canal, mooring up close to the museum building.
I then took a wander around with the camera, capturing the snowy scenes.
After a walk into Hanley for a spot of lunch, the snow was getting deeper and still falling.
I wonder what it will be like in the morning.
4.5 miles, 0 locks, 1 tunnel