Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Sapperton Tunnel

Eerie in the sense of haunted, uncanny, mysterious, abandoned.

The derelict and abandoned Sapperton Tunnel on the Severn and Thames canal near Cirencester is little known except by locals visiting Tunnel Inn, built to provide food and shelter for the ‘navvies’ and fresh horses to tow narrow boats, home to families who owned or more likely tenanted the craft laden with stone, coal and timber. The boats had to be ‘legged’ through the  2 mile tunnel; the horses guided over the top to be re-united with their burdens.


Today the busy pub, close to the handsome pillared partly restored north portal of the canal, is reached by a long rutted bumpy lane some 2 km from the road.  The canal however is sadly neglected. Voices of thousands of construction workers, the din of excavation, music, singing and merriment from the Inn and the passing of countless narrow boats can at times make the visitor feel an unwelcome intruder, overwhelmed by melancholy. Eerie.


The scene is quiet except for the wind rustling the leaves of giant beech trees, their roots silently driving wedges through hand crafted masonry once the pride of highly skilled artisans, now long forgotten.


(The canal was begun in 1787, later closed for technical reason and re-opened in 1836 under the guidance of one Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The tunnel is 2 miles 288 yards long [3.49 km] and at it’s deepest some 70m below the surface. One day it will be restored.) 


About 2far2shout

outstanding in my own field OU creative writing A215 2011 slow traveller wild swimmer day dreamer Short Story winner
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8 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

  1. Theresa says:

    A good photo for “eerie,” along with a well written, brooding account to accompany it. Any chance that you have photos of the inside, or is it blocked?

    • 2far2shout says:

      Thanks for your comments. You can go to google images and type in Sapperton Tunnel. There are some interior pictures and details and on the Restoration web site.

  2. adinparadise says:

    I think a tunnel that is over 2 miles long, must feel very eerie indeed. It has such an interesting history. 🙂

  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    What does ‘legged’ mean? People walked through with the barges? too blinking creepy for me if so. Although when I were a lass we used to walk the panny tunnel under the road for a couple hundred yards into rat territory!

    • 2far2shout says:

      Hi Gilly. Let me reply briefly to an earlier question. I was brought up in Nigeria from 1953 when my father was posted to Nigeria until 63 went i was sent to boarding school. My parents lived in various places, my mother is buried in Gusau, Nr Sokotu. My dad was refused re-entry following a UK visit, ending our Nigerian connection. I am still in touch with Nigerian and other friends from the golden years prior to and following independence.
      Legging involves living on your back and walking on the brick lined ceiling.
      As always thanks for your comments…

  4. Tish Farrell says:

    This abandoned waterway is both eerie and sad. Wouldn’t Britain be wonderful if the canal technology had persisted and evolved and we hadn’t decided that faster is always better. The navvies would definitely need better working cons. though. Thomas Telford, a bit of a hero of mine, was most put out by the notion that railways should eclipse his vision for canals. I wonder if canal transport could replace all those logistics trucks that ply the motorways???

    • 2far2shout says:

      I share your views though I really believe the railway, rather than canal could take a huge amount off the roads.
      We have a Telford bridge up the road from us. I nearly used it to illustrate ‘delicate’. He used steel like spiders webs.
      These men and women were visionaries. Decision-makers today have no vision. (Sweeping statement) Short-term gratification (profit) is the only motivation yet we go building dinosaurs, aircraft carriers, the stuff of 18th century, looking backward rather than to the future. In school we are returning to rote learning and formal teaching rather necessary in the 19th century rather than examining how society is going to evolve and meeting THOSE needs.

      It’s such a lovely day and I go off on a rant.
      Thanks for your response.

      • Tish Farrell says:

        Good to have a rant, Tony. I quite agree about all the blinkered lack of vision and no forward planning. We had a stunning railway once through Much Wenlock and all along the Severn – and what happened – it was Beechinged. What an asset it would be now.

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