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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Stuck again. Standedge Tunnel and chance meeting of another blogger.

Apologies now but this post will be twice as long as normal because as soon as we got to the East portal of Standedge Tunnel we had no WI FI. So Sundays post as well as Mondays have been incorporated into one.

The story of last night's fiasco went as follows. (Sunday) Ian arrived back from visiting the museum by 2.30pm. Knowing the trip boat was due back at 3pm we decided to wait before setting off, which also meant the first two locks would be with us. (A winding hole above lock 23 and by the facilities allows the trip boat to turn for the return journey.) As told in a previous post this was also the site of the pollution.

Pollution by the facilities. Green tank on the wall in the center is the pump out.

 Anyway trip boat returns after his third trip out and we let him know we are leaving, but to help him along we would lift the bottom paddle at both locks. Unbeknown to us the trip boat had depleted the water supply to the pounds and, although we struggled to get through both locks, it was only when we went to get into lock 24 that we again stuck fast! And boy did we get stuck. Something sticking out from below got wedged on our hull bottom and all we could do was pivot. So Ian tried flushing water down from the lock. All this did was tilt FS so much that everything on the kitchen work surface ended up on the floor! Then he tried closing the bottom gates, filling the lock and then opening them to force FS off the obstacle This helped a bit as I moved backwards. Suddenly water started appearing alongside FS's hull. Someone had switched on the back pump (or it comes on automatically when the water levels drop) Still this was a godsend as within minutes FS came free and I was able to bring her into the lock.

Ian trying to bowhaul her in

Had a bad tilt on but difficult to see in this photo
After that it was a relieve to get into lock 25. Then the pound by lock 26 (the one in yesterdays post low on water) had what I thought a decent amount of water in.

Yesterdays photo
And late in the afternoon.
What I hadn't reckoned on was the amount of solid stone lying almost in the mouth of the lock.  As I couldn't see it I assumed I had enough depth. So once again I was stuck. Ian did the gentlemanly thing and rushed to my aid. I managed to pass him the boat pole and with me in slow reverse and Ian pushing against the pole with all his might, I once more came free and coasted into the lock. I have been told by another boater who has done the tunnel 4 times now that water conditions on the other side are equally as bad. God help us all but at least we are bringing a lockful of water down with us!

Post part 2

We found out yesterday (Sunday) that only 2 boats were booked to go through the tunnel on Monday. Nb Rose Marie and Nb Still Waters, so at 9am Ian was on the phone to C&RT to see if they would except us today. The answer was no they were fully booked. Okay we thought we would
stay until Wednesday but what a good opportunity to go to the tunnel entrance to have FS measured.

Moorings by Grandpa Greene's Luxury Icecream (hut  by the lock)

Waiting at the West Poertal

While chatting to John and Janice (Still Waters) a boat appeared out of the mouth, followed nearly an hour later by a second. Then while we were having a laugh and banter with one of the C&RT guides (he was to take Nb Rose Marie through) the third boat emerged from the tunnel. As the bow came out of the gloom,a big cheer of relief came from the front. Didn't know it then but it was Sandra from AREANDARE

 Of course we had to go and say hello and introduce ourselves to Barry and Sandra and ask how they had fared. They came through pretty unscathed, which was more then we can say of us but that comes later. Then some great news. C&RT had decided that they would allow us through after all. So along comes the guy with the measuring stick, measure every bit of FS and said our top boxes must come off. The nature of the jagged stone, narrowing of the tunnel and low ceiling heightmeant they would have obscured the steerers vision and it was difficult enough to see in the gloom as it was. We had a two hour time limit in which to remove them both so it was a mad scramble to get them empty and into the boat.

First boat through Nb Rose Marie and Ian emptying the box

Look no top boxes!

 All this was going on while Iwas trying to chat to Sandra, She disappeared back to AREANDARE and we had hoped to say farewell as we set off, but as soon as our C&RT guide got the call to say we could go we were off. Now I should have said that the other two boats left in 45 min intervals but we had an hour to wait before it was our turn.

Nb Still Waters disappearing.

 Maybe Still Waters had slowed to a snails pace but that interval between boats were to allow the fumes to dissipate. (Tunnel is three miles long) Ian took the helm and got kitted up with hard hat and life jacket. He hates wearing hard hats but this time he was very glad to have one on as twice he hit his head on the rock. Twice also we bounced off the walls but, although I could see the sticky out bits sitting in the front, Ian on the back, having to cope with low headroom and unable to look down the side, had no chance to miss them. Not only that but the  tunnel is not straight. It even has an S bend! but it made for one hell of an experience. The sound of the trains running through the adjoining tunnel and the sudden fog that was created as they zoomed past was amazing. There were adits (adjoining side tunnels)  along the route and our guide Trevor had to get Ian to stop and then call in to say all was well. In one of the adits a C&RT was already there checking our progress.

 We eventually saw the light at the end of the tunnel and managed the journey in 1 hour 50 minutes.

Ian and our C&RT guide Trevor emerging into the light.

 Not the fastest, that went to a boater who raced through in 1 hour ten a few weeks ago, but not the slowest either. That boat took 3 hours to get through!! Then there was the one who got stuck near the East portal ( sole plate got wedged on the rock below the water line) and was only released when a tug was sent in to add extra oomph. They emerged after nearly 5 hours! Once we got moored we checked over the paintwork on the cabin sides. And there it was. The only bit of damage done. A blooming great jagged scar 6" long on the back cabin paintwork! Took all the paint off and went down to bare metal. Still if that was all there was we got away fairly lightly and Ian has already treated it to stop it going rusty.

Just to proove we did it.

Moored by the tunnel East Portal

 So there you have it.  Our exciting trip through Standedge tunnel and of course my inevitable photos of our experience.

This shows the S bend (first two photos) and the fog the train created (third photo)

Today (Tuesday) we have moved off the mooring by the tunnel and stopped half a mile away at Marsden. Still no internet so have had to go to the Railway Pub for use of their free WI FI. Such hardship (:

Looking down on the East Portal tunnel moorings from the road above.


Roger and Pat Filler said...

Well done you two. We chickened out going through Standedge. I think at six feet three and a several inches of metal holding my spine together I might need more than a hard hat. We will be heading west on the Rochdale next week. Where are you heading for?
Roger & Pat
The Cat's Whisker

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Hi Roger,
We are moored at Slaithwaite (still on the Huddersfield Narrow) and wont be leaving until Saturday or Sunday. Ian reckons we could be on the Rochdale by Tuesday having come in from the Calder and Hebble end. If this is good for you we could meet somewhere along the route.

Anonymous said...

Congrats well done both of you

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