I had debated with myself for a few days, since an email arrived from Julia, telling me that a group of friends were going to do their annual walk through the old railway tunnel, followed by “food”at her place. She didn’t think I would want to do the tunnel walk but was inviting me to the bunfight afterwards! I would love to say I have walked through the tunnel, but I didn’t think I would manage to walk the distance up to the far end of the tunnel and complete the walk back! Could I?…. Should I? …. Would I? …
Well, sense prevailed and I decided that I wouldn’t attempt the walk – but I had the idea to meet them at the end of the tunnel and take photos of them emerging from the darkness. They were assembling at Julia’s at 1.00pm and leaving when everyone had arrived – which I reckoned would probably be about 1.15. Give them about 40 minutes to walk up to the viaduct, along the riverside, and at least an hour, probably more, to walk back through the tunnel, so I set off at 3.00, heading alongside the river at first, then entering the cutting along the old railway track bed. It’s not far!
Soon the tunnel entrance was ahead of me among the trees. It was very muddy underfoot with all the rain we have had over a long period. Cautiously I picked my way along the drier patches getting nearer and nearer to the tunnel. The ends of the tunnel have been semi-bricked up, since the line closed about 50/60 years ago with a large door across the entrance. However that has since been well and truly demolished by folk wanting access to the the old rail route, and kids doing what kids like to do, lighting bonfires.
This was the wettest and muddiest part of the walk, and once I reached the wood lined brick doorway I could hear the drip drip drip of water that seeped through the tunnel roof and fell on the ground in several puddles. I was quite sure that by this time there would be some sign of the group – they’re a loud noisy crowd – but I could see or hear nothing……. but was that a shout? I “woohoo’d “ along the tunnel and a few moments later, I heard someone” woohooing” back! Yes, it must be them! Then a tiny light appeared, and I realised that the curve in the tunnel wasn’t so very far in.
Then the side of the tunnel was lit up by some bright torches, though surprisingly there weren’t so many voices. I heard a man’s voice saying “Someone’s got a camera!”, as the light grew brighter against the wall and I flashed the camera.
but no-one replied……. and then I saw why! Coming towards me was a cyclist huffing and puffing his way to the entrance, closely followed by his partner. It wasn’t Julia and the crew at all! The man cycled on past with the briefest of hello’s, but did answer my question, had they passed any walkers. Yes, there were some near the other end! Going the other way? Yes, answered the woman. Damn! It had never crossed my mind they would do the walk in the opposite direction! “What’s it like in there?” I asked the woman who had come to a halt in the mud having hit a stone with her front wheel. “Horrible!” she replied vehemently, before she managed to get going again, and disappeared after her husband.
I was passing Morag’s, so went in to wish them a Happy New Year, and after a while I continued along the road to Julia’s place. Lights were on in the front room and I expected a party in full swing, but no! All over! There were just Julia and Chrissie left – and Mr Poo, the dog. Nevertheless I was presented with a glass of wine and a plateful of blinis with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and some stuffed potato halves, and I spent the next hour having a lovely chat with them…. and yes they had gone up to the viaduct and walked back though the tunnel, but I missed them! They were well back by 3.00 and presumably crossed the footbridge to go back to Julia’s whereas I had crossed the road bridge and walked up the other side of the river! Next year, they’re going to phone me as they start off!
Still, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon, even if the sun in the morning did disappear and the rain began!
Talk again soon.