After Diane and Bob left on Wednesday, we went for a walk to the end of the tunnel via the woodland track that runs parallel to the tow path.
Before the tunnel was built, this was the tram track that was used to tow cargo across the gap in the Grand Union Canal. They’ve installed a sculpture of a pony and cart at the start of the track to remind visitors of its origins.
Unfortunately the track no longer follows the entire 3076 yards of the tunnel so if you want to walk over the top you need to follow a country road for a mile and a half. With rain forecast we wimped out of that one and headed back to The Boat for a drink.
I wish I’d read Free Spirit’s recent blog about going through the Blisworth Tunnel before we did the journey the next morning. I’d have kept more of an eye out for the side shafts! No ghostly lights for me though, mores the pity.
At the south portal, just outside Stoke Bruerne, there’s a blacksmith’s shop which is still operational. Unfortunately the blacksmith was on his hols when we were passing so we didn’t get to see him at work.
The speck of light is actually the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ over a mile and a half away!
Two thirds of the tunnel is still lined with the original bricks from when it was first built. The middle section was replaced with concrete rings in the 1980s when they discovered that it was in poor condition. There’s an example of one of these rings beside the blacksmith’s shop at the south portal. It’s incredible to think that two narrow boats can travel past each other through one of these!
It’s probably better not to think about the tons of soil, houses and roads over your head as you boat through a tunnel but, when you come across one of the air shafts, it becomes a little obvious that the world outside is quite a long way up!
There’s always a sense of otherworldliness when coming out of one of the long tunnels. I really enjoy travelling through them but am still relieved when we get to the other end and emerge into the light.