Over supply of rain…

Westport Lake (T&M) to Ramsdell Hall (Macc.): 6.3 miles, 1 lock

Whether to stay, to go up – or to go down… such was the problem to be faced this morning, not early, because it was raining, not mid-morning because there was a blog to finish, not late morning because there was a last conversation to be had with Les and Jaq.

The time came for departure. After rain, after showers, after a dry spell, but in a shower again Cleddau drew away from Westport Lake, to arrive within half an hour in truly torrential rain at Harecastle Tunnel. Decision made: through the tunnel, turn left, back to the Macc. The tunnel keeper approached, his bits of paper on his clipboard saturated. It hadn’t been a good morning: a boat had broken down in the tunnel entrance and had had to be hauled out. Delays had built up but now boat passages were restored to normal. Boats from the north emerged from the tunnel portal. Prepare for departure, three boats ahead, one gone, now another, then the third, all lights on in the cabin – GO! Frantically from the tunnel portal the keeper (from under his umbrella) waved Cleddau in, he desperate to gain relief from the deluge…

Now inside the tunnel the fans at the southern end whirred loudly. Out of the storm it seemed strangely dry, until occasional slight showers descended from the roof. As a navigation aid the tunnel walls are numbered at 25 yard intervals – and shortly after 1925 flashed by an unexpected graffiti message, Hull University Rag Week. On the boat went, number four in a line of four, under tiny stalactites, the hatch light picking up irregular stripes of rich mineral colours.

The boat emerged: the rains had just stopped. A weave past the Kidsgrove railway bridge and a sharp left turn onto the Macc, avoiding a British Waterways work boat.  A boater aired an opinion: “How is it that work boats can be tied up just anywhere, always with a flimsy bit of blue string…?” Cleddau cruised past the permanent moorings at Red Bull, Boatwif glad to see a favourite named boat Flirty Gertie, absent a week or so ago, now tied up back on her moorings.

A few more heavy showers: the Macclesfield Canal seen as never before, gravy brown water, streams, drains and overflows tipping excess water into the cut. At the little Hall Green stop lock, usual water differential an unremarkable 12 inches, the level was high, at least 2 feet of water to be drained… There, just ahead on the visitor moorings, was Sanity Again  and a mile further on, Welsh dragon flying from its stern, nb  Benigedig .

Moored now just beyond / before the Ramsdell Hall railings Boatwif did a very quick check of the path to and over the bridge behind the boat.  How much mud can a pair of ageing leather boots and a pair of gaiters take?! Tomorrow, weather dependent, will it be a good walk or some hours-long skulking inside the boat!

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