Thursday, 27 November 2014

Leggers



It wasn’t frosty on Wednesday morning but very misty and drizzly, I assume that is what is called mizzle. Once we were up we went up the final two locks into Stoke Bruerne.  The children (those that who have time to read this blog) will remember why we call the top lock titanic lock.  To the right of the top lock is the Indian we went to last night in case we never saw an Indian by a lock again.  Mind you we will be going through Birmingham at some point.  On the other side of the lock was The Boat that we also popped into last night.

There were a couple of swans in the top pound with three cygnets.  The father swan was constantly getting rid of a fourth cygnet.  We weren’t sure if it was originally part of the family or just trying to join it.


We moored just before Blisworth tunnel and put some baked potatoes in the stove.  We put them in the stove itself this time rather than in the ash pan to see if they cooked any differently.  We then went to the canal museum in Stoke Bruerne for just over an hour and the potatoes were spot on when we returned.  The museum offered me my first opportunity to have a concession ticket!

After lunch we walked across the top of Blisworth tunnel but after a mile the path came out on a road so we cut across country and completed a circle back to the boat.  It was very muddy in the cattle fields.

Once we got home we set off to go through the tunnel which, at 1 ¾ miles in length, is the third longest canal tunnel still open to navigation.  It wasn’t built until the late 1700s so there used to be a tramway linking the two ends of the canal.  It is so difficult trying to understand the conditions the men worked in.  17 vertical shafts were dug first and then horizontal tunnels dug out from the base of each until they all joined up.  All this was in the days when it had to be carried out by hand.


Most of the shafts were closed off once it was built but seven were left for ventilation and also to let water pour in on unsuspecting boaters.

Before mechanisation came to boats men used to be employed to leg the boats through.  Here is a model of men legging, although Blisworth tunnel is wide enough for two boats to pass so the leggers' boards would have been longer.


Whilst the boats were legged through, the horses were walked across the top and waited in these huts that are still present at either end of the tunnel.  There are also huts where the leggers waited to be hired.


We moored just north of Blisworth village and Karen made some gorgeous flapjacks. In the evening we went to the Walnut Tree restaurant in Blisworth as my children had treated us to a meal out for my 60th.  We had a fantastic time and a really good meal.  Lovely to be treated :)




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