It is Monday 1 February 2021. We have been enclosed in our homes for what feels like years, but this Monday feels different. Although we are still at home, we are setting off on a virtual journey – AROUND THE WORLD!!!! We don’t know exactly who from our Five Acre Wood Community we are going to be travelling with, but we look forward to the road ahead and the adventures it might bring! Our travelling companions are running, cycling, ambling, Sunday afternoon strolling, dog-walking, fit-bitting, Strava-ing…..and everyone is adding their miles together to advance our progress along the route. So, today, we bid a fond farewell to Loose and set off south towards France. No luggage needed, no passports required. We hope you enjoy our journey and join us on it…..
We reached Ashford International on Day one, where the kind people at Eurostar had provided our very own Eurostar train to take us into the heart of Paris. It was a wonderful experience to whoosh under the English Channel at Folkestone, imagining the stunning White Cliffs of Dover. We covered a total of 41 miles on our first day, taking us about half way across the Channel. Here are some fun facts about the Channel Tunnel:
The Channel Tunnel is 31.4 miles long, making it the 13th longest tunnel in use (the longest is the Delaware Aqueduct, at 85.1 miles). It has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world (23.5 miles).
It cost £4.65 billion to build the two tunnels and the middle service tunnel, 80 per cent more than expected. Construction took six years (1988-1994).
It was recognised as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” by the American Society of Civil Engineers, alongside the Empire State Building, the Itaipu Dam in South America, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Panama Canal, the North Sea protection works in the Netherlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The first proposal for a tunnel under the Channel was put forward by Albert Mathieu, a French engineer – it included an artificial island half-way across for changing horses. Further proposals were considered by Napoleon III in 1856 and William Gladstone in 1865, while David Lloyd George brought up the idea at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.
Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette carried out the ceremonial break through on December 1, 1990.
The average depth of the tunnel is 50 metres below the seabed, and the lowest point 75 metres below.
Eleven boring machines were used to dig the tunnel. Together they weighed a total of 12,000 tonnes (more than the Eiffel Tower), while each was as long as two football pitches. One from the British side remains buried under the Channel. Another was sold on eBay for £39,999 in 2004.
The introduction of a pet travel scheme in 2000 has seen more than two million dogs and cats travel through the tunnel.
To commemorate the 2014 Tour de France, which started in Leeds, England and finished in Paris, Chris Froome of Team Sky rode through the service tunnel, becoming the first solo cyclist to do so. He didn’t keep to the limit which is 30mph, reaching speeds of up to 40mph.