Not the sort of thing you stumble across every day, fortunately.
A ruddy great section of an aqueduct embankment near Middlewich has collapsed. The ancient aqueduct itself below, carrying the canal over the River Wheelock, remains intact (it seems), but a stretch of canal from Stanthorne Lock to Wardle Lock (right in the heart of Middlewich) was somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly drained onto farmland below.
That is a boat that you can see above the breach, it is someone’s home and the gentleman was aboard at the time of the breach – about 11:40pm (ish). He was rescued by Messrs Police & Co at about 1am. His boat is canted over at an angle because, I think, it is a “Springer” and has a v-shaped hull.
The breach, last time I heard, was still growing, and there are doubts in re the boats survival. The chap has been given a temporary bed by another stranded boater.
I suspect that this will take at least a couple of days to sort out.
[Extracts tongue from cheek and revises estimates to a year or more.]
Boated up and down there a couple of times in past months, and walked that pathway into Middlewich (and Messrs Tescos supermarket) many, many times.
There are two locks between the Cardinal and me and this breach, and about eight miles of canal. It was the direction that I was headed in, and in about a week I should have been there. I think that I am a Jinxian, this is the second attempt to travel in that direction and the second closure. “Closure” in this second instance seems to be a rather inadequate term!
The scene through Middlewich (where the Cardinal and I were moored just a few weeks ago) are of boats sat sitting sittingly on the bottom…
The Cardinal and I have the option of reversing a couple of hundred yards to the winding hole just behind us, or of going down the first of the locks ahead and turning then to go back from whence we came, again.
It is not going to be a cheap or quick fix for this one.
To add spice to the HP Sauce, yonder the “The Beast From The East” is back again for seconds. Yesterday was mild, possibly the mildest day since I forget when (it seems to have been a long winter). Last night the winds returned (East Nor’East – right onto the Cardinal’s bow) and the temperature is dropping like a stone. Below zero already, and the wind-chill factor is +/- Gadzooks, where are my longjohns.
It won’t be making the job of assessing and containing the damage any easier.
The local news services and even that once great but now embarrassingly awful journalistic endeavour, the BBC, are full of “barges” being stranded left, right and centre. A barge is not a narrowboat and a narrowboat is not a barge, and folk on both get very annoyed by folk without either boat or barge mis-using the names! Tis a flogging offence!
One “newspaper” – The Daily Fail – I mean, the Daily Mail – has dramatic headlines about a “sailor” and his “sailing boat” having a lucky escape from a “sinkhole”…
Just goes to show. My Dad told me this when I was knee-high to a magistrate. If a news item that you know about is woefully inaccurate in almost every detail, including the truth, what are the odds that every other item from the same source is equally woeful?
The latest news – stop the press – is that a hand-gun has been found in the aftermath of the breach… possibly an old murder weapon, unearthed? Doubtless the Daily Fail newspaper will lead with a story about how the embankment was shot…
The lady from the Canal & River Trust who trundled along to warn us all that we would have to volte face since the way is blocked favoured the “badgers” theory. Lots of badgers about, and they tunnel… Well, if it was badgers tunnelling, they got the shock of their lives, is all I can say. Derek, can you hear water dripping? No, Nancy, get back to work with that spade…
I think it might have a lot more to do with building on sand and then not tending to the trees that were the only thing holding the bank together! It is amazing what a couple of centuries of gentle neglect can do.
I have Mr Stove working his socks off on an “all you can eat” basis, there’s food in the galley and just a tiny, tiny smidgen of internet signal. Plenty! Yesterday, while someone else’s troubles were not so far away, I manually emptied the gazunders (a la “walked them” to the services), fetched potable water (from a different source, also a walk along the towpath carrying) and did a long-overdue job called “the laundry” (two hours over a hot twin-tub). Industrious, or what? Under “Canal Time” rules three jobs like that can take a whole day, and be knackerising!
Ho et le hum, another day today, another guinea. I am once again hunkered down on my boat with the way ahead blocked. Plus ca change, plus ca go another way, Sunshine.
Tis all good fun – but only because I wasn’t a few days ahead in my schedule, when it might not have been any fun at all, ever again!
Oh goody! It’s just started snowing…