A full day. In every respect.
Camera gave up, and refused to record any timelapse through the Harecastle.
Turns out the SD card was full. It ran the battery down anyhow.
Waterexplorer tells me it’s 17 locks and 16.16 miles total for the day.
Had to wait about 30 minutes to go in.
The CRT attendant was friendly and professional. Talked me through all aspect. Couldn’t ask for a lot more.
The tunnel itself is a touch over 3,000 metres long and was built in the 18th century, you can read a little more about it here.
People still fear going through it today.
I’ve no idea why. The roofs are low. It drips. It’s dark.
It’s not much fun for rentals. If you know your boat, it’s just a long dark tunnel.
There is however this creepy story associated with the tunnel:-
It is said that many years ago, in the early years of the canals, a young lady was traveling from Liverpool to meet her husband in London who had recently taken up work there. He had sent a guinea to her to enable her to pay for her transport, and she was carrying all the goods she owned with her in trunks.
After a long ride on a cart that was taking corn to the mill at Hardingswood, she stopped to take rest at the Canal Tavern, a lock-side pub in Kidsgrove. She was trying to arrange her further passage south by road, with no offers. Someone in the tavern suggested that she travel by canal barge, and although she was not very happy about the idea, she could find no other choice.
The Tavern landlord agreed to watch over her luggage whilst she went to the wharf, and there she met three boatmen who promised her they would give her transport to London on their canal barge. They wanted to go on that night, and she was reluctant. They convinced her that the passage through the tunnel was dark in day or night, so they may as well set off as soon as possible. She did not like the idea too much, but because she could find no one else, she accepted. She noticed then that they had all been drinking, and that may have been to do with the cargo they were carrying which was wine and spirits.
The Boatmen went back to the Tavern with her to collect her luggage, and they took a pint of porter and then set off with the lady due South via the Harecastle Tunnel. At the mouth of the tunnel, one of the boatmen took the pony up the track to Boathorse Road, and the other two set off into the tunnel with the lady.
The barge emerged at the other side carrying the boatmen, but the lady never came out. In the hope that she had riches in her trunks, they had murdered her and hid her body in the underground culvert to Goldenhill Colliery, known as Gilbert’s Hole. On the search for her, she was found some days later in the tunnel, without her head.
The boatmen were tried and executed for her murder, but it has been said over the years that the Kidsgrove Buggut has been heard wailing in and around the tunnel and along Boathorse Road. This is the road that runs directly above the tunnel where the tow-ponies used to walk when the barges were going through the tunnel.
There’s quite an interesting blog on the Harecastle Tunnel here.
Stoke on a boat
After that, you get a lake at Westport, then to journey through Stoke, past all the disused potteries by boat.
Nothing like Wigan, it’s very picturesque. Very pretty even. Passing by the industrial innards of Stoke, functioning, some not. Nature plays a surprising large part on your journey through city.
From the canal, you might think it was all trees and hills.
I appreciate the Graffiti they’ve put on the walls here. Some of the best you’re going to see on the canal, (in my experience).
I can imagine how they could have said this name 200 years ago. Like it was an industrial utopia.
It’s named by the Wedgewood family after an area of Italy.
They used it to produce their ceramics, and created a factory to ship Wedgewood across the world.
During the second world war, the factory closed down.
Things went down hill after that.
It’s like driving through an open-air museum on the canal.
Made it to Stone, and through all the locks.
Parked up not far from Aston, which is considered the last of the ‘Stone’ locks.
Cooked some toad in the hole.
Drunk some beer.