Sunday Stroll, Interrupted

Sometimes fresh air is the best medicine – I’ve got a thumping headache today so decided a walk along the canal close to home might help, and I took my camera with me for company. It was sunny enough with blue skies when I left the house, so I was in no rush.

But before long the sky darkened, and I got not too far along the canal basin when I felt the first spits of rain so turned around much sooner than I’d intended and it’s such a good job I did – the heavens opened and by the time I made it home again I was soaked. Even now the rain is still hitting hard off the window just to remind me it’s still there…

Sadly my headache is no better but I did enjoy my walk – well, at least the first half – and did get a few decent shots before the winter weather turned for the worst… 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Medicine

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Sunday Stroll: Along the Canal

It’s been a while since I’ve been for a Sunday stroll along the Caledonian canal from Muirtown Locks to Clachnaharry Sea Lock, and although the rain threatened a few times I had no more than a few spots here and there to contend with. But oh, it was bitterly cold today, especially with the bracing sea breeze that’s never far away.

Whenever the sun came out (decidedly intermittently) I snapped whatever I could landscape-wise, and whenever the dark rain clouds dampened the light I concentrated on close-ups of whatever I could find around me. I was out for an hour or so and came home with frozen fingers, pink cheeks, windswept hair, and a big happy smile 🙂

Weekly Smile

April A-Z: M is for Muirtown Locks

When canal users need to transport their boats from a higher water level to a lower water level they traditionally use a system of locks, which are basically a series of stepped deep chambers with lock gates at either end of each chamber.

So for example here, a boat would enter the top lock, the lock gates would be closed and the water pumped out so that the water level is lowered to match that of the next chamber. Once the water levels are equal, the lock gates between the two chambers are opened and the boat moves on through to the next chamber. The operation is repeated as many times as is necessary until the boat has reached the lower level. In order for boats to move up from the lower to the higher level, the same procedure is completed in reverse, but with each chamber being filled with water rather than emptied, raising the boat further up each time.

The Muirtown Locks in Inverness, originally built in the early 1800s, comprise a flight of four locks (and therefore five lock gates) at the northern end of the Caledonian Canal. Each lock chamber is 180ft long and 40ft wide, and altogether these four locks raise the canal 32 ft from the Muirtown Basin to the Dochfour Reach. The locks, orignally cranked manually, were mechanised in 1963 – the same year I was born!

PS If you’re interested to see more I’ve previously posted images of two boats actually going through the locks at the end of last summer 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

Sunday Stroll – Muirtown Locks to Tomnahurich

Today’s walk by the Caledonian Canal in Inverness took me the comfortably walkable distance from Muirtown Locks to Tomnahurich Swing Bridge down one side of the water, then back up along the other. I started at the top of Muirtown Locks where the houses are close to the canal and walked down along the bank, heading inland (although in most of these pics I’ve turned around to keep the low winter sun behind me).

Just past Tomnahurich Cemetery, which is set on and around a natural hill formed millenia ago by glaciers, I crossed the canal by the swing bridge, and started walking up along the other bank, heading back towards the sea.

I followed the edge of the canal all the way back up to just before the Caley Marina, where the path detours a little around private property…

Then just past the Marina I turned and took an atmospheric shot facing back into the sun before reaching the top lock gate at Muirtown Locks (the point I started from), where I crossed the canal once more before my short walk home – a perfect Sundy stroll on a chilly December morning! 🙂

Muirtown Swing Bridge

After any boats travelling along the Caledonian Canal have descended through the system of locks to reach the ‘natural’ water level on their way out to the Beauly Firth at Inverness, they then have to go through the Muirtown Swing Bridge.

Whenever necessary, the traffic is stopped, and the bridge swings smoothly open on a pivot to allow the boats to go through. Once the boats are safely through, the bridge swings closed again and the traffic too continues on its way 🙂

Muirtown Locks on the Caledonian Canal

Muirtown Locks in Inverness are on the Beauly Firth end of the Caledonian Canal, and comprise four closed chambers bordered by five lock gates. By increasing or decreasing the level of water within each chamber and opening and closing the gates in order, it is possible for boats travelling along the canal to be raised or lowered to the height of the next chamber, then the procedure is repeated – a bit like a water staircase for boats.

We were walking along the canal side the other day as two boats were descending through the system of locks, so I took a few pics with my camera phone. By the time we arrived, the boats had already gone through the first chamber and had started their descent towards the Beauly Firth.

The first image is taken from the middle of the first lock gate, which when closed creates a narrow pedestrian ridge across the canal, looking towards the Beauly Firth. The second is taken from the next lock gate along, looking down on the boats as the water level reduces to the level of the third chamber, shown in the third image. The fourth image shows both boats in the third chamber, and the fifth shows them in the fourth chamber with the lock gates closing behind them. The last image is of the boats waiting to descend through the last chamber to the lowest water level below 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Middle