We were due to be allowed to go through the tunnel at 11.30 so we took Buddy out for a walk in the morning. Part of the regulations state that pets have to be restrained inside the boat for the duration so we thought we ought to wear him out. He kept laying down on wood chippings – I suspect they were warm.
Karen and I had a good swing together on this to see how Buddy reacted. He just sat down and waited for us to finish!
This was one of the boats who were going through with us…
… and this was the other one.
We have to navigate ourselves but have to have a CRT member on board. This was all due to the regulations that Network Rail laid down when the canal was restored. Emergency access can be made to the canal tunnel from several points along the rail tunnel and if there was an emergency an official needs to be on board to lead the crew to safety into the rail tunnel. Before we could set off we had to remove nearly everything from the roof and dismantle the cratch. The CRT guys had a large aluminium square rule with various marks to check our width at various heights and our height at various widths. We just passed but it was going to be really tight as we were on the limits.
The weather was appalling, both windy and wet. At about 10.30 the first of three boats came through in the opposite direction.
The second boat came out about 20 minutes later but the third was really delayed and came through about 12.30. The reason for the delay was their tunnel light had gone so their CRT guy was standing at the front with a torch!
The picture at the top of the page shows how we had to kit up – I was really glad of the hard hat later!
Here we are entering the tunnel to pick up our CRT guy – you can see how hard it was raining so we were soon glad to get into the tunnel.
The profile constantly changed, sometimes high and sometimes low but always just wide enough for a narrow boat. There were many bends which we have never encountered before. Some sections were brick lined:
In some places the rock had been sprayed with concrete – this was done when the canal was restored ten years ago or so:
Most sections were just the hewn rock.
Near the beginning and the end where the rail tunnel crosses over there were extra brick arch or iron girder reinforcement as the building of the rail tunnel disturbed the roof of the canal tunnel so much.
Another part of the Network Rail conditions were that we had to stop several times for the CRT guy to go down a side tunnel to make a radio call to a control centre to report progress. This is one of the adits.
It was incredibly challenging and total concentration required throughout.
The double rail tunnel runs across these girders above us.
Every time a train went through the air rushed around us. Every so often there was evidence of an access bridge across from the rail tunnels.
Finally the exit after 3 ¼ miles and two hours.
When we got through the tunnel we were in Yorkshire at a place called Marsden where a lot of the Last of the Summer Wine was filmed.
We moored up and went for a walk so that Buddy could have some space after being shut up for more than two hours. We told him to go to the end of the boat and by the time we got there he was sitting at the top of the steps waiting to get out.
This was originally a transhipment wharf and now houses the visitor centre for the Standedge tunnels (pronounced Stannege) and is where the trip boats moor. They run public trips 500 yards into the tunnel and reverse out again. A bit of a con as they are only shown the brick lined part of the tunnel. Mind you on Saturdays they do run a trip through the full length with taxi ride back for £15.
As we walked to the village we turned round to see the rail tunnel portals and noticed that the Colne river was diverted over the railway line – really unusual for flowing water to run on an aqueduct. One of the disused single track tunnel portals can be seen on the left.
Here are a few pictures of Marsden.
Marsden was a pretty village and we took advantage of the butchers and greengrocers before popping into one of its many pubs for a well deserved pint. When we got back we found we had no internet and no TV signal. This was devastating to us as Thursday is the one day that we needed access to the outside world; we were planning on staying up to see the election results come in. Because of this we changed our plans and decided to continue cruising north until we had TV signal. Even if it meant going down the 42 locks to Huddersfield where we finally have to turn round as we are too long to progress further.
This is us moored at the end of the tunnel.
Here are a few more shots from inside the tunnel.