We continued along the Northampton Arm of the G.U. until we reached the winding hole at the top of the locks. This flight consists of 17 narrow locks, leading all the way to Northampton town centre some four miles away. At the terminus of the canal, navigation continues on the river Nene, pronounced 'Nen or Neen' depending on where you come from. This river eventually takes you to The Wash and the North Sea.
We are currently not equipped for rivers, so we winded here, saving this route for another year. It was then back along the arm to Gayton Junction, turning left to continue our journey south.
After rejoining the G.U. mainline we said goodbye to the railway, and in no time were approaching our intended mooring location of Blisworth. It seemed however that Blisworth, had suffered some recent heavy rain as the towpaths looked like a quagmire. The four legged crew member is not very good at wiping his feet so we decided to press on.
Soon we were entering the 3057 yards Blisworth Tunnel. This tunnel is the third longest navigable tunnel in the country. As we entered the north portal we could see the south portal ahead. This tunnel unlike some we have been through is arrow straight. We could also see that we had no oncoming traffic and so our passage only took approx 30 minutes.
The tunnel was fairly wet as we passed through especially in the area of the ventilation shafts, and at various point drainage channels were allowing water to pour in through the brickwork. The centre section of the tunnel was the subject of a massive restoration project in the late 70's early 80's and is now lined in concrete. As we exited the southern portal there is a plaque to commemorate its reopening in 1984.
At each end of the tunnel is a hut originally used by the leggers, men who lay on a planks and walked the boats through, whilst the horses used to pull the boats nipped over the top. Thankfully for the crew, 43 horses of diesel power now does the job.
We arrived at the famous canal village of Stoke Bruerne and found a mooring a hundred yards or so from the top lock. We are time restricted here to 48 hours, but will probably move down two locks of the flight tomorrow to the 7 day section. There are several pubs and an Indian restaurant here, all of which I am sure will benefit from our custom over the next few days.
Totals 9 Miles 1 Tunnel
Running total 41 Miles 32 Locks 3 Tunnels