Yesterday was every bit as rainy as expected, so we sat tight and watched the first four episodes of the latest season of House of Cards. The boat has a small stove which burns coal based fuel, like overgrown charcoal briquettes, so we lit that up. This morning the rain stopped for a while and was not forecast to be as heavy, so we decided to make a move. We would have had to run the engine anyway to charge the batteries and get hot water, so we might as well move the boat as well.
At the highest stretch of the canal we have a level section with no swing bridges, so while I was chugging along through the rain Paula did a couple of loads of laundry. (We only have enough power for the washer when the engine is running.) Though the washer theoretically has a dryer feature, it is not very effective and only takes half a load, so we have to hang up the laundry to dry – on wet days it gets hung up inside the boat, so this is my current view.
A canal can only go as high as there is a reliable water supply, and if the land goes higher, then the canal has to go through a tunnel. The Foulridge (pronounced FOAL-ridge) tunnel is 1,640 yards (almost a mile) long, and took five years to dig, between 1791 and 1796. The cost was £40,000 which would be around two or three million pounds in today’s money. The tunnel is only wide enough for one (broad) boat, so it is controlled by traffic lights. For ten minutes on the hour one end gets green, and on the half hour the other end gets ten minutes of green. You get twenty minutes to get through the tunnel. By pure coincidence, we time our entry perfectly and hit the tunnel when a green light is showing. This one is by no means the most difficult tunnel we have been through. The knowledge that there is no oncoming traffic to worry about means we can just stay in the middle and plough on through, and it is dead straight, so you can see the exit the whole way through.
Of course, there is the danger of submerged cows. Apparently in 1912, a cow called Buttercup fell in the canal at one end of the tunnel, and rather than climb out there, she decided to swim (or more probably wade) through the tunnel to the other end, where she was hauled out and revived with brandy. These days they also allow canoes in the tunnel, but those are not likely to dent the hull nearly as much as a cow.