Last Friday we left Fradley and came up the last three locks to continue on the Trent and Mersey.
Here is Leo just setting off from our mooring part way up the Fradley locks in lovely sunshine compared to the deluge the previous evening. Helen has gone up to the Junction Lock to prepare it, while Ian is pottering up with Leo.
This is the famous view of Fradley with the Swan (aka the 'Mucky Duck') just opposite the junction with the Coventry Canal. Not far down the Coventry is Fazeley Junction which we had passed nearly a month before.
This is looking up to Shade House Lock, the top one of five at Fradley. There were several volunteers on the locks helping boats through and plenty of traffic in both directions.
And further on the canal is just a very narrow channel with the towpath behind railings to one side. You do have to be careful here to make sure no-one is coming the other way because there is certainly no way of passing in the narrow section.
We stopped in Rugeley for shopping. As well as having Tesco and Morrisons right by the canal, there is also an excellent DIY and hardware store in Rugeley. Just beyond Rugeley the canal crosses the River Trent and we moored just past the aqueduct. Here is the view of the Trent from the aqueduct.
And here you can see the aqueduct itself.
Apart from the sight of Ian doing a bit of painting along the gunwhale, this picture is memorable because a boat called 'Leo II' is just passing Leo.
It was by the aqueduct that the body of Christina Collins was discovered in 1839. She had hitched a lift with a canal boat bound for London and was murdered by the crew. Quite a sad story, though the crew were found and variously executed or transported.
On Saturday we passed Great Haywood junction where the Staffs and Worcs Canal turns off for the Severn and came up more locks to moor on a wide stretch of canal above Sandon Lock. We had several showers in the morning but the afternoon and evening it rained solidly so we didn't see much of our surroundings.
This is Colwich Lock, one of two climbing up to Great Haywood. The picturesque lock house seems to need a coat of whitewash.
This is the junction with the Staffs and Worcs Canal leaving under the arched bridge in the middle of the picture. Our way this time lay straight on.
The canal passes the village of Weston Upon Trent which we've not yet looked round. The church is just visible through the trees across a duckpond. We must stop and visit sometime. We moored overnight above Sandon Lock. It rained most of the afternoon and into the evening so, although it is a nice spot, we didn't explore further.
A much better morning for weather on Sunday took us into Stone for lunch and then onto Barlaston to moor overnight near the Wedgwood factory.
We rescued these happy ducks from the canal below Aston Lock. Well they're happy now we've rescued them! They were tied together with string, so if anyone has lost them, send us a message and we will return them. Till then they look good on the top of Leo.
Here is Leo coming up the second of four locks in Stone. The large building in the background used to be a hospital but we think it is now converted to flats.
Joules Brewery which has now moved to Market Drayton used to have warehouses by the canal from which presumably boats were loaded with their beer.
Here at the third of the Stone Locks Helen is giving a lesson to some interested passers-by who wanted to know more about our canals and how they work.
The other side of Stone we had to climb the four Meaford Locks. These are a delight and, as you can see, the sun was shining. The footbridge by the lock has a deliberate split down the middle. In times when horses pulled narrowboats this allowed the towrope to pass through.
We need to buy this house at Barlaston. Leo could have her own dock and quay and even have a friend to stay.
On Monday morning at Barlaston Ian changed the oil and a fuel filter so we left late for the journey through Stoke on Trent to moor at a lovely spot just to the north at Westport Lake.
This is the first of several pottery kilns that emphasises that you are now in the Potteries.
The Stoke Locks are deep and to reach this one you come under the main line railway and then climb the lock to be level with it. The graffiti here is pretty pervasive but the locks are interesting and challenging.
A local character at Stoke is 'Rob the Lock' who spends his time cycling up and down this and other lock flights helping boaters. When a lock ahead of us magically emptied itself and then opened its gates we were not surprised to find Rob about. Thanks for your help, Rob.
Ahead of us in this photo is the final short pound below the top lock. There is not much room and manoeuvring three boats in the small pound was a bit of a challenge.
The top lock at Stoke must be about 15 feet deep. It certainly is a deep dark hole and the paddles cause some powerful currents as the lock fills.
Middleport Pottery has been extensively restored and now has a cafe as well as a museum and produces pottery.
In a storage compound by the canal we saw these concrete blocks. They look like Lego blocks and presumably slot together in the same way.
Yesterday (Tuesday) we came through the Harecastle Tunnel and turned off up the Macclesfield Canal.
The Harecastle only allows boats to pass in one direction so we had to wait about half an hour for another boat to come through heading south before we could go north.
Here we are finally going in. The tunnel is one of the longest on the system at 1.7 miles and took us about 40 minutes to pass through. If you do this tunnel watch out for the Boggart near the northern end! Though the tunnel is quite high at either end, in the middle it is much lower, hence the height gauge.
Here you can see a second boat coming in behind us.
And 40 minutes later here is the northern portal of the tunnel. The water really is this strange orange colour due to iron deposits that leach into the tunnel from the ground above.
A few hundred yards out of the tunnel you can see the first of many locks that lead down into Cheshire. However we turned left just behind the moored boat you can see. This takes us onto the Macclesfield Canal, which swings back over the Trent and Mersey once the latter has dropped down a couple of locks.
And here is the view looking down from the Poole Aqueduct where the Macclesfield crosses the Trent and Mersey. You can see the paired locks of the T&M below us. The design of this junction with flyover is quite similar to motorway junctions that were built so much later.
The hill with the strange folly on is called Mow Cop and is quite a landmark round here.
Just a mile or so from the junction we came through Hall Green Stop Lock. This was built so that the Macclesfield controlled loss of its water to the Trent and Mersey Canal. It only rises a foot but that acts to hold back the water.
We moored on Tuesday night at a favourite spot with an excellent view and lovely blackberries! You can walk about a mile across the fields from there to Little Moreton Hall, a National Trust property. This is the finest timbered property there is. We mainly went in this time for a cup of tea, having toured it before.
We had a lovely sunset that evening and that seems an appropriate place to stop for now as it is getting late.
I will do another posting soon of our impressions of the Macclesfield but tomorrow we have the excitement of the 12 Bosley Locks, so I really ought to get some sleep.