I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Stoke Bruerne to Watling Street Bridge - September 2022

Monday 5th September – Near Nightingales Bridge no. 46   

We had a big thunderstorm during the night and Muffin hates loud noises, and was terrified, so he ended up on the bed with us.  A 4 foot 6 inch bed with two people is bad enough but a dog as well?  If he is at home and there is a loud noise, which includes Richard sneezing (!), he goes and hides under Richard’s desk. On the boat he disappears down to the bedroom and crouches behind the bed but when he was already behind the boat there was nowhere to go

Just two locks today.  We were on our own in the first one.  At the top lock there were two lockies who wanted us to wait as there was another boat coming, but coming from where??  He eventually arrived and up we went.  

On through Blisworth Tunnel.   Here are a few facts about the tunnel.

  • 3,075 yards long
  • the longest wide, freely navigable tunnel in Europe (it’s wide enough for two narrowboats to pass in opposite directions)
  • the third-longest navigable canal tunnel in the UK, after Standedge and Dudley Tunnels
  • the ninth-longest canal tunnel in the world
  • about 143 feet below ground level
  • it was built between May 1793 and March 1805
  • from October 1800, before the tunnel was built, goods were transported on a double-track tramway which linked the two parts of the Grand Junction Canal. The tramway was some 3.7 miles long and was worked by horses pulling wagons carrying about 2 tonnes.
  • e have made the big decision to go home.  My back is really bad, and I need to see the chiropractor.  I have made an appointment for Tuesday 13th so we will drive home on the Sunday.  We are going to take it easy though the thought of 13 more locks does not fill me with joy

We moored up for the day with a nice view though we are close to the railway, but the trains go by so fast you hardly hear them.

As Richard went to let Muffin out for his last wee he saw, what he thought was blood on the kitchen floor.  I had a look and it certainly looked like blood, but it was soy sauce!!  Something had knocked it over in the cupboard and it was trickling out! 

4.79 miles
2 locks

Tuesday 6th September – Near Watling Street Bridge no. 22

A quiet night even though we were moored close to the railway.  The trains go by so quickly, unlike the ones in Canada which were 1 mile long goods trains and crawled along at some silly miles per hour and seemed to blow their hooters willy nilly!

We have passed a couple of Canaltime Club la Costa boats in the last couple of days.  The person who named them must have a good sense of humour.  They are Canaloni and Goldielocks!  I can just imagine the laughter that could have gone on in the office as they made the names up!

This passed us last night being towed and we found it again this morning.  I think its really sweet. 

We moored up for lunch and didn’t move again.  We had good phone and internet signal, so I managed to catch up on all sorts of things. 

We passed the entrance to the old Ordnance Canal which is long gone.  An act of Parliament was passed in 1803 for the purchase of 53 acres in Weedon, ‘for erecting buildings thereon for the service of His Majesty’s Ordnance’; subsequent purchases later increased the estate to about 150 acres. The Royal Military Depot as it became known, stretched out along the Nene valley above the village of Lower Weedon, with a barracks for 500 men overlooking the depot to the north, close to the Coventry Road.  Initially the depot had eight storehouses and four magazines.

In order to move goods quickly into the depot, a canal cut from the Grand Junction Canal was constructed between two rows of storehouses. At each end of the main enclosure, two lodges were built over the canal, each equipped with a moveable portcullis. The canal cut continued into the magazine passing through a further smaller building and portcullis.  At the western end of the there was a fourth portcullis leading to a barge turning area outside the perimeter wall. Barges were also able to turn in a canal basin within the magazine enclosure, but this was infilled in 1915.

The magazines which were built at the same time as the depot consisting of brick buildings with very thick walls and a small high window at each end. Each block of buildings that was used to store gunpowder was separated from the next by a wide earth bank. Over 1000 tons of gunpowder was stored in the magazine at any one time.  Gunpowder was delivered to Weedon by barge, where it was packed into barrels and boxes and re-issued. The coming of the railway brought a standard gauge rail connection into the depot, but it also posed a problem as the new main line ran between the depot and the Grand Junction Canal, severing the branch canal into the depot. To overcome this, a portion of the line had to be bodily removed, fish plates, rails and chains; to allow the barges to pass into the depot. This was made more dangerous by the fact that this was one of the busiest stretches of line in England with hundreds of trains passing through at speed during the day and sharp curves leading away from it in both directions.

7.99 miles
0 locks

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