Thursday, 11 August 2016

Scholar Green

Today we made our turn onto the Macclesfield Canal, but first we had Harecastle Tunnel to navigate. At 2926 yards it is the longest tunnel passage we have made so far. The weather as we departed Westport Lake was grey and gloomy, with rain threatening to make an appearance at any time. This did not matter so much, as nearly one third of our day would be spent underground. On arrival at the tunnel entrance we just caught the tail end of a boat, disappearing into the tunnel.


We moored up to speak with the friendly tunnel keeper, who was Naomi, and she then gave us a safety briefing. The good news was, the boat we saw entering the tunnel was number six in the convoy, meaning we could continue without waiting, as the maximum convoy length is eight. We removed the satellite dish and chimney, to enable us to pass beneath the black and white striped gauging arch at the entrance, and that was it, we were on our way through. 

                                                        Harecastle Tunnel - Southern Portal.

Once inside the tunnel, the pair of doors at the entrance were closed behind us, and large and very noisy fan was started to provide ventilation. The tunnel is single way traffic, although once beyond the narrow entrance it opens up to about 14 feet in width. This is due to it having had a towpath in the past, which has long since been removed. By the time we reached halfway the noise of the fans had almost disappeared, but the ever constant draft made it a chilly passage. The water was also starting to become rusty brown in colour. Just under five hundred yards from the exit, we saw the famous skeleton that is painted on the wall. We passed too quickly to get a photo, but now we know where he is, we will get one on the way back. About forty minutes after beginning the passage, we emerged from the northern portal and immediately noticed the colour of the water.

                                                          Harecastle Tunnel - Northern Portal.

This rusty colour is caused by the iron ore found in the local region leeching into the canal. The queue of boats waiting to head south was into double figures, so some of them would have a long wait. A few hundred yards further on, was Hardings Wood Junction where the Macclesfield Canal leaves the Trent and Mersey. We made the left turn after a brief wait due to some traffic congestion.

                                                                   Hardings Wood Junction.

The two canals run parallel for about 400 yards during which time the Trent and Mersey is lowered by two locks. The Macclesfield then passes over the top of the T&M via an Aquaduct, and continues its journey north into open countryside. We navigated the stop lock at Hall Green, and then filled the tank with water, before continuing the short distance to Scholar Green at bridge 87. Here we secured the boat, then headed off to the Rising Sun P.H. for lunch.



The pub is dog friendly although we had left Oscar behind, and it has an extensive menu of home cooked dishes. The steak and ale pie was my choice, due in part to it being a cold, wet, miserable day. We are moored adjacent to Mow Cop, a hill, the top of which is 1100 feet above sea level. On the top is the ruin of Mow Cop Castle, which we can't see today as it is shrouded in cloud. We plan to stay here a day or so and hopefully the weather will improve before we leave.

Totals 4 Miles 1 Lock 1 Tunnel

Running total 263 Miles 166 Locks 13 Tunnels   

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