Day 8. Blisworth Tunnel to Stoke Bruerne
2 miles – 0 locks – 1½ hours
I’m lingering abed, outside I can hear the air alive with summer-sounds; a wood pigeon’s coo-ings, the chatter and rustle of the hedgerows, the chuntering machines of early harvest, the putter-putter of early-rise boaters heading for the tunnel, a rooster calling… It’s a morning of heat, and brilliantly defined white clouds; and of fish occasionally breaking the dusty film on the water to take midges and greenfly…
I take my time with the morning routines, increasingly I’m enjoying the familiarity of the mundane tasks of preparing myself, and the boat, for the day’s journey.
Today it’ll be all about the tunnel, all 3057 yds of it. And, not thinking much beyond that…
The tunnel is dramatic, icy water pouring, noisy, dazzling. A blundering narrowboat collides with me; huge apologies from the steerer, but the damage already done, more agonising sounds of splintered and tearing wood.
Limp weakly into the heat and light of High Summer, and the tourist trap of Stoke Bruerne.
I like Stoke Bruerne, in many ways it reminds me of where I’ve spent so much of the last ten years… Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. After 10 years as a cave guide down the Rutland Cavern, at the Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath I find tourists reassuring, comforting even. I like the collective enjoyment of a place, perhaps it’s all too busy for the purists, but with pub and the museum, with the heat and the sunshine, and with the strolling crowds, I find I can relax, I write postcards, read, and allow the sun-warmed hours to drift idly by…