Hello Everyone. Hope you are all well? I am here by popular request today to show and tell you more about our narrowboat holiday.
I thought I would start at the beginning with the actual boat. Here it is… or I should probably say here she is (boats are always “she”s aren’t they??)… (Apologies in advance Grandma P!)
Yes, she is called Savoy Hill. Not a strictly traditional/historical boat but definitely very functional for holidaying purposes. There’s Grandma P making the most of a very rare moment of peace, quiet and sunshine. Mr P is at the tiller (the stick wot you use to drive it wiv).
Here’s a view from the back (technically the stern… I think?)…
You can see a little bit of traditional canal boat decoration on the side hatch and the doors at the back. Roses and castles were painted on working boats by their owners… beautiful things they aspired to. On the far left of this picture you can see the lock we are about to go into. I’m going to explain this carefully as requested.. A lock is a method for making a canal go up and down a hill…. sort of stairs for canals. In this photo you can see the locks in front of the boat. We are at the lower side of the lock and are going to go up. This part of the Trent and Mersey Canal has pairs of narrow locks… you can see the second of the pair to the right of the picture. (Other parts of the canal system in the UK have different sizes/lengths of locks.)
The boat goes in at the bottom when the lock is empty. Grandad P and I (designated lock operators on our boat) open the gates to let the boat in then close them afterwards. We move to the other end of the lock and use our windlasses (the “tool” from my last post) to open the paddles in the upper lock gates. The paddles are like little doors in the gates which let the water from above the lock flood into the lock which then causes the boat to rise. Here’s Savoy Hill inside a lock…
You can see the lock is pretty empty and the water is rushing and bubbling in at the bottom of the picture. In the top left you can see someone using their windlass to close the paddles on the gates of the other lock). It can be pretty strenuous work to open/close the paddles. The gates can be heavy too but the best thing with them is to lean your body weight on them until they are ready to move – you can feel them give and you know its time to open them. Lots of eager pushing and pulling is not necessary, just use of your body weight. Once the water inside the lock has reached the same level as the canal on the upper side of the lock the gates will open and the boat can float out and continue its journey.
There are other highlights along the canals too. I mentioned the Anderton Boat Lift in my last post – I might do a separate post about that. Here’s another exciting highlight of this trip… the Harecastle Tunnel….
Its the second longest canal tunnel in the UK and takes 30-40 minutes to travel through on a boat (bear in mind that narrowboats don’t go very fast at all). Because its a long one there are tunnel managers at each end and boats are only allowed through at certain times because there is no room to pass once inside. Harecastle is also interesting because at one end there are doors which close after you enter to allow the ventilation fans to start so the tunnel doesn’t get clogged with exhaust fumes. So in one direction you get shut in and in the other direction you literally can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel!!!!! Here it is though…
I don’t know if its just us, or if everyone does it but we always sing in canal tunnels… very loudly!! It sounds great. But I am sure that the people at the other end can hear us long before we get there and must be laughing their socks off at our terrible singing. This was confirmed on our return trip through the Harecastle Tunnel this year. We came out of the end to find the tunnel manager creased up with laughter at our interpretation of The Muppets “Mahna Mahna” *blushes and giggles*.