Caldon Canal: to Leek and back to Stoke

7 to 9 June 2010

Jane and Helen with the stern rope to help guide the boat around corners - narrowboats don't steer going backwards but still drift to the side, and we had about two miles to go backwards.

A bit later, in the rain, and it is Helen, Sarah, Jane and Alan helping to guide the stern - we didn't really need four, I suspect, but there was lots of enthusiasm for a rare opportunity.

The view from the lock, beyond which there is a winding hole - almost there, and the horses look happy. Stephen twisted his ankle the previous evening, so had to stick to the tiller.

Heading forwards again, we pass through a lift bridge

We stopped at the Cheddleton Flint Mill, which was a great little museum - well worth a visit.

The two flint mills: parts of the northern one, originally a corn mill, date from the thirteenth century.

Remains of a tramway

A plug-plank, which allowed the water to be gradually drawn off as the suspended flint in the slop falls to the bottom of the settling arc. The thickened flint slop was then pumped over to the slop-drying kiln.

Sheila and Sarah wait for the boat.

Back at (new) Hazlehurst Junction, we are ascending the last lock, thinking about the very sharp turn to get onto the Leek branch.

Closing the lock as the boat departs

Jane, Sheila and Alan help the boat round

The canal was closed at Leek Tunnel, so it was a taxi into Leek, not least because of Stephen's ankle.

Our boat (the one on the left) at the large pool before Leek tunnel

Lucy starts to lower a lift bridge after Mary has taken the boat through.

Two of the small number of preserved limekilns in Stoke.

We moored in Hanley, and next morning we have three locks to descend back to Etruria Junction. Although it looks rather odd, Alan is (apparently) trying to get the lock mechanism to work while Lucy, Sarah and Mary look on.

Sarah watches the water pour over the overflow from the lower of the staircase pair of locks.

Lucy and the boat in the lower lock

A statue to James Brindley who surveyed the canal, but for whom it was his death after he caught a severe chill while doing so: he died in 1772, five years before the canal was fully open.

Back at Etruria Junction: time for a quick diversion to the boatyard for a pump-out before we continue our descent along the Trent and Mersey Canal.



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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson