WEDNESDAY 1ST JULY 2009
It was going to be another hot one, and an early start was the only option, but by the time we had gone up the seven locks and arrived at the entrance to Blisworth tunnel, it was seriously hot. I had missed the water point in the centre of Stoke Bruerne as our guide showed it to be close to the tunnel, I stopped there to check, but no tap. Not a problem, but as we are having lots of cool showers I don’t want to run the tank dry.
I pushed off from the bank to line up with the tunnel entrance, and heard a shout, I reversed as a bow of a boat started to emerge shrouded in smoke and steam, it was a very old steam powered working boat towing an unpowered boat otherwise called a ‘butty’, returning from the Historic Working Boat Festival that had been held at Braunston over the last weekend. They thanked me for waiting and apologized for steamy state of the tunnel and when I fully entered the 3075 yd. long tunnel it was impossible to see the sides because of the steam and I bounced from side to side until it cleared.
The tunnel was originally opened in 1805, but was closed for four years, reopening in 1984 whilst major repairs were undertaken, this involved relining a long section with interlocking concrete blocks, the same technique that was later used in the construction of the Channel Tunnel. There are regular openings in the tunnel sides that drain water into the canal, as I probed these with my torch, I was surprised to see a pigeon looking back at me, it didn’t blink or move as my torch illuminated it, so I feel that somebody was having a laugh and had planted a dummy pigeon. Check it out and let me know if it is still there, on the right side coming from Stoke in the concreted section of the tunnel.
Within a couple of miles of leaving the damp coolness of the tunnel we reached Gayton Junction where a five mile arm runs down to the town of Northampton and from there onto the River Nene and the Fens. We would leave this for another trip for another time, but we did stop at the junction for water and then moved on a few more miles before mooring alongside the Wharf Inn at Bugbrook to fill our personel tanks with cold cider, lovely!!