This afternoon we left the
Canal to continue our route South on
the Trent and . We’ve enjoyed nearly a week on the Mersey Canal Caldon Canal
which goes up from Stoke on Trent
into the Staffordshire Hills, referred to as “Little Switzerland”.
Coming back on Thursday from the end of the Leek Branch we managed the very tight turn onto the main line of the
at the junction and then dropped down the three Hazlehurst Locks to go under
the aqueduct carrying the Leek Branch of the canal. Caldon Canal
|Hazelhurst Middle Lock|
From here the route winds round a few really tight bends and down the valley of the River Churnet. At Cheddleton we passed the Flint Mill where two waterwheels powered the grinding of flint and bone into a fine paste for addition to clay in making china.
|Cheddleton Flint Mill|
|Cheddleton - the canal goes under the wooden building!|
Near where we stopped for lunch we spotted a tractor ploughing an amazingly steep field.
After a couple more locks the canal actually joins the River Churnet for a mile or so until a weir takes the river down and the canal continues on its own course.
|Looking back - Oakmeadowford lock to left and river to right|
At Consall Forge is a lovely remote pub, the Black Lion, where we enjoyed excellent beer and food on Thursday evening. There is even a station here on a preserved steam railway and the platform and waiting room are cantilevered out over the canal, which like much of the last mile or so is very narrow, certainly too narrow to pass another boat.
|Station platform and waiting room hanging over the canal|
At the end of the main line of the canal is the Froghall Tunnel which is both narrow and very low in the middle. We read various accounts of just how low at 5 feet, 4 feet 9 inches and 4 feet 4 inches. Leo is around 5 feet 11 inches to the top of the cratch at the front (though we could remove the cratch). There is a nice basin at the end of the canal but this is only 200 yards beyond the tunnel and dismantling the boat for such a short section of canal seemed silly. So, in short, we decided against tackling the tunnel, so here are pictures of each end of the tunnel and one of where the canal ends:
|Froghall Tunnel West End - note height gauges|
|Froghall Tunnel East End|
|Froghall Wharf - end of the Canal|
We took our time coming back along the Caldon, spotting this lovely Victorian Waterworks at the foot of the Stockton Brook flight of five locks:
|Stockton Water Works, now sadly derelict|
Yesterday we cycled into Stoke and visited the
, concentrating particularly on
their displays of items from the Staffordshire Hoard and the exhibition of,
you’ve guessed it, ceramics. The quality
of workmanship in the gold and garnet pieces of the Hoard was astonishing for
the 7th century. In the
afternoon we also visited the Potteries Museum
where a beam engine from 1820 was working and demonstrating how flint and bone was
ground in pans a bit like grinding flour in a water or wind mill. Etruria
|Etruria Beam Engine - note flywheel is blurred because it is turning|
|Horizontal shaft drives the pan grinders on the floor above|
Above Stoke on
Trent we were
in the Trent valley and very close to its source
so we walked down for a closer look as the Trent will be our companion for most of the
rest of our trip.
|Infant River Trent|
And finally here are pictures taken from our moorings over the last couple of days:
|The horse came to watch me painting!|
|Splendid Sunset behind Norton in the Moors Church|
So we are now back on the
and Mersey and we will be heading to Stone and
Great Hayward. We are nearing the end of
our trip but are planning to complete the “Four Counties Ring” by turning right
at Great Hayward to the start of the Shropshire Union at Autherley Junction which
we passed back at the end of May.