We made sure to have had breakfast and be ready to be out and about by 9.30 this morning. Our tunnel passage was booked for 10am, and the Canal and River Trust (CRT) staff are obliged to give you a “safety briefing” half an hour beforehand. Today’s briefing was very Covid-secure, it was shouted across the canal – excellent! The main thing was to check we had a working horn and that we knew to use it if we got stuck. As soon as the only boat coming the other way appeared, we were sent on our way – ten minutes early.
As we know from other tunnels, the roof is lower in the middle than at the ends. There is a guide to indicate the internal height – with a distinct risk of hitting your head on it at both ends. We made fine progress through the tunnel – I did have to duck a bit in the middle. As we approached the far end after about forty minutes we could hear the roar of the ventilation fans and see the closed doors. The doors opened and the fans went off reassuringly ahead of us reaching them.
The usual rule of tunnels applied: the weather was different at the other end. In this case we emerged into light rain. We pressed on for a mile or so to Westport Lake. We moored up to let the rain pass. Not long after we’d got inside, the real rain began.
In the afternoon, the rain had gone but we decided to go for a walk around the lake, rather than move on. It is apparently the largest body of open water in Stoke-on-Trent – but still doesn’t take long to circumnavigate. We investigated a small maze at one side – stepping between the puddles was the most taxing part.