Thursday, 28 June 2012

2.00pm 27/06/2012 entering Standege Tunnel

We set off at 7.00am on Wednesday morning, as we had 9 locks and one mile to the tunnel entrance. We had to be there by 11.00am.

At 12.00  a British Waterways official came and measured our boat. We were told to remove the topbox and chimney from our roof.

At 2.00pm we were joined by a member of British Waterways to accompany us through the tunnel, and we were off.

The first thing you noticed was the drop in temperature, then you realise, once your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, how narrow it was, we had about 2" either side of us.
The first part was quite straight and lined with brick, and easy to negotiate. Then the rocks appeared. The BW 
man used a powerful torch to point out the dangerous rocks jutting out, which we had to negotiate around.
We stopped at one section to allow the BW man to get off and contact the support team outside, to let them know everything was ok. (A support vehicle runs along a support tunnel throughout the journey)
As we set off again a train went through an adjacent tunnel. First you heard the train then all you could see was a cloud of smoke, like something out of a movie come billowing down towards you. It was just mist, and the temperature really dropped.
At the halfway stage, we had to negotiate a S bend. This was because when the tunnel was constructed in 1811, when both ends met in the middle, they were out by 26 foot.
After an hour and a half you could just make out a small dot of light. The BW man explained that it was the end of the tunnel, but that we still had a number of bends to negotiate before we reached the end.
After 2 hours we emerged, a few minor scratches, but no significant damage.
How would we describe the experience? "Extreme potholing for narrowboats, but an experience we will never forget."
We hope the pictures below help you understand the experience

If you enlarge the above picture, the dot in the middle is the end. But took 40 mins to reach

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