Tunnels and Bridges
Seeing it from the canal which is a whole different perspective.
I'm used to seeing things from our sailboat, but the narrow boat was different and yet the same in some ways. This trip fulfilled a long time dream of mine to do a trip like this.
I took so many pictures of a perfect oval or circle formed by the bridges reflected in the canal. Each of the bridges is numbered, and you can follow your progress on the canal book map (not that there is much chance of getting lost) Going through the Dunhampstead Tunnel - trying to imagine the narrowboat men 'legging' a barge through loaded with coal or other heavy materials while the horses walked around on the outside.
(In legging, the men lay down on their backs on top of the boat and 'walked' on the top of the tunnel to push the boat through)
One of my aunts lives here so we've visited the area, as a family, since I was small but, as we usually visit her home, I haven't visited much of the area. The area seems nice and quiet and is surrounded by lovely countryside, which starts not far from the town.
Friday, July 26, 2002
"Getting underway - Friday July 26, 2002"
Friday - July 26: Both our daughter and son-in-law went in to work. Our daughter came home about 10 and we packed food for breakfast, lunch and snacks. When her husband got home we had lunch and loaded the boys in the USA car, and our daughter and I went in her car (a Rover), to Dunhampstead where the boat hire place was.
We parked in the last two places (free) in the lot, and had the boat tour including important lock information (don't leave the paddle winder in the lock mechanism - it will jump out and drown, as it doesn't swim worth a darn), boat running information (check the sump every day, don't let the rudder catch on the lock sill or the sill will damage the rudder - and cost big £££), stove running information(hold the stove knob on for 30 seconds), and toilet running information (don't put anything down the toilet except human produced waste and toilet paper).
"Starting off - Destination Worcester"
Then we loaded the stuff we had brought. We brought towels, although overseas visitors have them provided. We weren't sure, since we were coming from a local house if we counted as overseas. We decided to go down to Worcester and come back instead of going to Birmingham because the route to Birmingham included among other things the Tardebigge Locks - 30 locks in a row, and we didn't want to expend that much effort. Plus, Birmingham isn't exactly a prime tourist destination.
"To Drotwich through the tunnel"
But there were no tunnels on the route, and I wanted to do at least one tunnel, so we went up toward Hanbury Wharf first, and went through the Dunhampstead Tunnel (236 yards long), through Shernal Green, and turned around at the Droitwich Junction where there is a defunct canal. The canals are too narrow to turn except at junctions or turning points. We could have had dinner at the Eagle and Sun pub, but it is apparently so popular that we'd have to have reservations and besides it was too early for dinner and too late for lunch.
"Turning the boat"
Bob steered, and turned us around (the boat is 43 feet long, not quite 7 feet wide, and doesn't steer well in reverse) without any apparent problems. There were several boats moored on one side of the canal there, and the people on them appeared completely blase about his prowess to handle the boat, and that he wouldn't run into them, but I noticed that one apparently relaxed man was really only pretending to read. Then we went back down through the tunnel again, past the hire office.
"Finishing the tunnel"
The tunnels do not have tow paths along side the canal. So the horses that pulled the boats in the old days before engines, were unhitched and led over the tunnel to the other side. In order to get the boat through the tunnel, the boat operator(s) would lie on the cabin top on their backs, and 'leg' the boat through the tunnel. That is they'd walk along the roof of the tunnel to pull the boat through.
Each of the bridges is numbered along the canal. Some of them are no longer safe for heavy traffic. You can see in this picture how the canal has narrowed with grasses and reeds.
Our daughter steered a little along here after we got out of the tunnel.