Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!! (Part 4)

I can't believe it's already been over a week since I was in England! It doesn't seem that long ago! Next time I'll just have to stay longer. ;) But I know that if I don't finish my blogging now, the England trip will go the way of the recordings of the Edinburgh trip...into obscurity...LOL

So the Sunday we were there, Poppy and I got to spend some time with Lizzie, as Emma had a graduation party for a family friend to go to. Sunday's plans were very spur-of-the-moment! LOL It had started out all rainy (I got to experience British rain! It's nothing like American rain! ;) LOL ), but I thoroughly enjoyed it, really and truly! I love rainy weather, and getting rained on there only made our experience that much more genuine. ;) Anyway, Lizzie took us over to the Standedge Tunnels. We went by the exhibit first, and learned a fair bit before getting to go on the canal boat ride!

We had to wear hard hats (for safety reasons) if we went out from under the boat's roof.

The ride took us a quarter of a mile into the tunnel (the total length of the tunnel is 3 and a quarter miles), and it was quite dark! The history behind the tunnels is truly intriguing! They even found a pick ax head when they were going about the restoration of the tunnels, and they believe it was used in the original making of the tunnels, in the 1800's! I got to hold it, even. :)

It wasn't very large, and it wasn't heavy at all, really, but I can easily see how repeatedly swinging it (especially overhead!) it would quickly become heavy. They believe that the owner of the ax head they found was illiterate, because you could see the markings he made on it to show ownership of it.

We even got to see a "drill"! It was a tool that was used as a drill long before power tools were invented...and let me tell you, I am so glad that I never had to drill a hole the way they did! I didn't get a picture of it, but it basically looks like this thin, cast iron rod with a little point on the end of it. One man would hold it up, and someone else would use a hammer to pound it against the wall of rock. The one holding the drill would rotate the drill a small degree, and it would get hit again. They repeatedly did that so they could fit some explosives into the hole, light it, run like mad, and pray they ran far enough away to not get killed by the blast. Sounds like fun, right? (Thank goodness for spells like bombarda!)

Inside the tunnel, you can see these "ridges," which are supportive arches that were added with the restoration, but there are actual gaps between these arches, and you can see how far up the tunnel ceiling used to be (though you can't really see it in the picture...you just see the arch and then pitch black. LOL).

It was a very narrow and dark tunnel (certainly not recommended for those that are clausterphobic!) where the boat barely had room to fit through. We repeatedly hit the walls. And back in the day of no engines, the poor Muggles had to use this technique called "legging," where two people would lay on their backs at the front of the boat (laying head-to-head) and sort of walk sideways down the canal to move the boat through. Evidently, it gets a bit wider further down the tunnel, and you had to be carfeul, or you may fall in! For those areas, they used another technique, called "shafting," where a person standing at the back of the boat would use a long pole to push the boat along. And there were people that did nothing but legging and shafting all day long! What a job!

The tunnel also runs parallel to the train lines, and we could hear them rumble past a few times. In fact, there was also a side tunnel (that was long since caved in, and didn't allow boat access) that connected to the train line.

Anyway, lots of history and fun little facts, but enough of the lecture. :) It is summer, after all, and I know not everyone is as into learning as the Ravenclaw lot. :) But the Standedge Tunnels was really a lot of fun to go see!

And I think I'll leave the rest of the day's adventures to yet another blog!


Bridget The Bloodthirsty said...

This looks like a fascinating trip! I have to ask though, did you see a lot of bugs down there? I wouldn't be worried about tight spaces, but getting cozy with bugs would make me nervous!

Hermione Bagnold said...

Actually, the only bug we saw was a moth, and they said that the only issues they really had was with bats! The reason why is because there's not really anywhere for rodents (like rats) or bugs to inhabit, with the lack of ground...it's just water! But I guess that bats have found a home in a spot that's under a bridge that crosses over the canal for the railroads. We didn't see any bats, though. :) It was still daylight outside.