On the day after the BCN Marathon Challenge, Atlas and Malus were heading back to their home at Hawne Basin. Gordon and I volunteered to join the crew. The boats would be taken via the Gosty Hill Tunnel through which Ewn Ha Cul would not fit – a great opportunity to spend another day on these amazing boats and to travel a piece of the canal that would be otherwise unexplored by us.
There were five crew – Paul Smith the skipper, Phil Wild, Colin Wilks, Gordon and me. Aided by Kirsty and Tug along with ever helpful Phil Barlow we headed off down The Crow. Only nine locks today – a doddle after the challenge!
The weather was a bit miserable but nobody seemed to mind. When we reached Factory Locks Gordon and I swapped places. He hopped off to do the lock wheeling while I steered Malus – an incredibly easy job as the pounds are short and there’s not a lot of actual steering required. Phil did his usual sterling job of hauling the boat from lock to lock while Colin and Paul went ahead with Atlas.
There was a minor mishap when Atlas went aground at the bottom of Factory Locks…
…but Colin and Paul soon managed to get her back on track.
By this time the rain was really coming down and I hid in the cabin as we went through Netherton Tunnel. I must admit to having a quick nap but I woke up before we went through Gosty Hill Tunnel.
The entrance to Gosty is actually quite roomy but the tunnel shrinks about half way along. It’s here that Ewn Ha Cul would have problems. White paint and this painting of dracula warn of the impending reduction in height.
Phil had let me know to look out for this ventilation shaft, the chimney of which is now situated in someone’s garden. The greenery you see at the top is a tree that has been planted in a vain attempt to hide the structure. I think if I owned this house I’d be making a feature of it instead.
Heading towards Hawne Basin, at the south end of the tunnel, the boat passed the remains of the massive Stewart and Lloyd Steelworks that closed in 1967. It must have been incredibly busy back in its hey day but is now crumbling and covered in greenery.
All in all it took about six hours to get to Hawne Basin from Titford. The journey back was considerably quicker as we were lucky that Phil and his wife Anne gave us a lift taking just 15 minutes or so.
The weather had cleared by the time we got back so we were able to sit down outside the Pumphouse with Phil Barlow and his dog Charlie and have a relaxing drink.
We’d like to thank Phil for his welcome to us and for all his help during our stay there. He’s an absolute star! We’d also like to thank Paul Smith for allowing us to join the crew of Atlas and Malus both for the Challenge and the trip to Hawne Basin. It was an absolutely amazing experience!