Eventually, the following day, I turned right at Kings Norton Junction and was on the BCN at last. I had about 8 hrs to get to Withymoor Island Moorings, where I had planned to meet my crew for the BCN challenge. There had been a hiccup though, in that Mouse Daltry phoned Withymoor Island Trust and they denied any knowledge of Stronghold coming in to moor that night, despite my earlier e-mail and phone call a month ago, when someone said, “There shouldn’t be a problem.” They also said to Mouse that there would be no one there, as the caretaker was on holiday. Unreliable, if you are ever thinking of mooring there!
The only crossroads on the BCN...............
and this is it.
Now what to do? I suggested to Mouse that he ring John and Jenny Jackson, our NBT coal merchant, who was local to the area and could hopefully suggest something positive. They were extremely helpful and arranged for two cars to be
parked at Coombeswood Canal Trust, in Hawne Basin, where the Challenge was due
to finish on the Sunday – sorted! Thanks very much Jenny.
I was now about two hours ahead of my schedule, so had time in hand to meet Barry and Mouse at Hawne Basin, once through Netherton tunnel.
Northern end of Netherton Tunnel - nearly 1.75miles long.
It was about three miles from Windmill End, where we were due to start the following day and involved an interesting trip through Gosty Hill Tunnel. This starts off low, but gets even lower, before the roof then goes up to twice the height and then back down to low again. At the lowest point, there is about 18ins clearance above the cabin top. With single way working, one has to make sure there is no other boat in the tunnel at the other end. I did this tunnel four times during the weekend, so became quite familiar with its characteristics.
Gosty hill Tunnel approach.
About to enter the lower section.
The Cratch Snatcher of Gosty Tunnel.
With my crew now on board, we headed for a mooring next to Withymoor basin and headed immediately to Ma Pardoe’s for a well deserved meal and beer. This is a favourite heritage English pub and one of our goals whenever we are in the area. We ate in the upstairs restaurant for the first time and had an excellent meal, with homemade chips, for a very reasonable price – even being served by young ladies dressed in black and white. We were now on target to start the Challenge the following day.