Blisworth Tunnel

I will admit now that I didn’t take many pictures. The day was grey and rainy….and of course cold! You didn’t think we could have two gloriously bright and sunny days in a row did you? Sunday was exactly the opposite of Saturday both in weather and excitement.

We left off early so as to get to the Stoke Bruerne flight of locks before the tunnel. Alan was helming the first couple miles because it was cold and I hate the cold. We were behind a hire boat that stopped periodically to let passengers on and off for walking the towpath. I guess that makes for a convenient and relaxed walking holiday. About a mile before the first lock we switched over. And I took the helm.

We shared all the locks with the hire boat hitch made working the gates easier for Alan and gave me people to chat with in the locks. Stoke Bruerne was busy that day though which meant there were two boats in most of the locks at any time. Coming out of most locks went great. We communicated with the next boats up that we would come out single file on the right and they did the same so that we could each file into our spots at the next lock. This meant organisation and less work for all.

Sadly on one lock the people above jumped the gun and came out while we were still filling our lock and they chose to hover rather than pull to the side and hold the rope. They flailed about in the pound like a fish out of water repeated blocking the route to the next lock. The other boat had sensibly pulled to a side and waited in control.

Our gates opened and I agreed with our lock mates that I would go ahead so they could slip in next to me. At this point the dying fish of a boat blocked my route again so I waited for him to get some semblance of control back and made my way around him. Our hire boat friends were doing quite well in and out of locks and handled the hoverer wonderfully.

Coming out of the second to last lock we had a bit of a failure to communicate and I thought there was a boat in the upper lock to wait for so first I tried to hang out in the lock then when the gate opened and tried to hover but no boat appeared. Finally I decided to go forward as I couldn’t see in the lock which was at an odd angle. It was empty. E made our way through and said goodbye to NB Jimsonweed as they were stopping for ice cream while we headed on through the tunnel.

After Alan had a toilet break he took over the helm. We got our headlight on as well as the inside lights and plunged into the dark and wet tunnel. It is not quite two miles long and it is only wide enough for two boats to pass extremely closely…I am talking within inches of each other. We passed two boats inside the tunnel and no great crashes so we shall call that a win for the day. We made our way into Blisworth ullage and found a spot to more for lunch.

This was my view from the bow of the boat early in the day

After much discussion on how we would get the car to our next mooring spot we came to a plan. Alan would run back to the car and drive up to the general area we planned to stop and I would take the boat onward. This meant a 14km run for him and a few hours in the cold for me. This seemed like the best choice as we were aiming to cruise on for 6-7 more miles.

We did all the sensible preparations before I took the boat out on my own….again. I got my hat, gloves, raincoat, and my headphones so I could have music and get a call from Alan later. I also went to the toilet as a smart girl does since stopping for a wee while cruising alone is a nightmare.

Que nightmare. About an hour in of course I needed to pee. This meant mooring up somewhere for about two minutes. That is a lot of work for two minutes! I spotted a straight bit with metal sides that looked like an easier spot to moor up. I faffed about getting the boat into the side and got the pins and ropes sorted out. Quickly, I moored up and climbed back onboard where I needed to then get the door unlocked and me in without letting Peanut out. Those desperate tears were flowing but no disaster this day.

Checked the map to be sure of where I was and how much farther I needed to go and I set off again. Jimsonweed passed me when I moored up so I was to follow them the rest of the day. I think there was a bit of a breeze catching me. Not enough to cause havoc but enough that my boat struggled to get back going. it really wasn’t that much longer that I was on my own. About 4pm he called to find where I was and ran back to the boat. Jimsonweed was a bit confused as they saw Alan run south from Blisworth back toward Stoke Bruerne but now he was headed toward us from the north. We found a decent little spot near the village of Nether Heyford to moor for the week.

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