Well we have broken another record - we are entering our 7th week aboard Ella, and all is still going well!!
This week we will be exploring another canal new to us - The Caldon Canal. I have been checking how many canals we have actually completed and to date it is 12 canals!! I am very impressed with ourselves!!
Monday 18th July - today we have decided to leave Great Haywood and move on to the village of Salt. We put water on at the junction and then called in to Great Haywood marina to fill up with diesel. They were very helpful and when the time comes to relocate Ella to a different part of the canal system, then we would strongly consider this marina.
This is the Canalside Cafe attached to the Farm Shop, both very good.
As we approached Weston Lock there was a family of six swans, two adults and four cygnets, the adults got out of the canal and left the cygnets in front of the boat. One cygnet managed to get behind the boat but three went ahead of the boat into the lock! They eventually followed us out the lock and were effectively separated from their parents.
Having moored up about a mile from Salt bridge we walked into the village and had lunch at the Holly Bush Inn, very pleasant and the most amazing garden with stunning hostas in pots!
The bridge is an amazing construction of brick and stone, very attractive indeed.
The garden outside the Holly Bush Inn is a very pretty picture, love the mannequins!!!
After our walk back we decided to call it a day and stay moored where we were for the night.
Tuesday 19th July - Salt to Barlaston. Today was the hottest day of the year so far, but there was a breeze as the boat was moving.
We passed a mile marker showing that we were equidistant between Preston Brook and Shardlow.
We moored up outside Stone, a very pretty canal town and went and did some shopping. We also had some lunch at The Star alongside the canal. It apparently dates from the 14th Century and is one of the oldest pubs on the canal network. It has an unusual fact - none of the rooms are on the same level!!
We returned to the boat and began our ascent up the four locks through Stone. At the second lock is a sculpture of Christina Collins, a young lady who was travelling from Preston Brook to London in June 1839 and met an untimely end in the canal at Stone.
Alongside the canal is the old Joule's Brewery building. Joule's used to brew their beer in Stone but have now moved their premises to a brand new brewery in Market Drayton!!
Once through Stone we came to the Meaford Flight of locks. There are four of these quite close together, but the paddles can be quite hard work!! We moored up between Barlaston and the Wedgwood factory in open countryside. Very peaceful, apart from the trains again.
Tonight was a full moon, captured reflecting in the canal.
Wednesday 20th July - Barlaston to Milton on the Caldon Canal. Continued past the Wedgwood Factory where the famous Wedgwood Pottery is still made. The original factory was in Stoke at Etruria, but mining subsidence made the site unsuitable and the factory moved to the new site in 1940 and it is still the centre of the industry.
We cruised right through the centre of Stoke seeing the backs of many factories and warehouses. This made us laugh!!
Arriving at the five locks in Stoke we were very pleased to find two volunteers on hand to help us up through the locks. They raise the canal up 50ft and are quite daunting from the inside! Our two helpers were Ken and Bernard, a very big thank you to you both for all your help!
Once at the top of the flight we turned right onto the Caldon Canal. Another new canal for us to explore. The first set of locks you come to are a staircase of two locks and fortunately for us our volunteers helped us through them as well!! This is the only staircase lock in North Staffordshire.
Just as you turn in to the Caldon Canal there is an imposing statue of James Brindley, one of the early canal engineers who shaped the way canals were built during the industrial revolution.
There are two locks in the staircase and the top lock is larger than the bottom lock so as you fill the bottom lock...
...the water escapes over the edge of the lock!!
We stopped by bridge 8 to visit The Emma Bridgewater Pottery, some lovely pottery and nearby are beautifully restored bottle kilns for the potteries.
We moored up at Milton for the night, a rather bleak spot before the bridge, and walked into the town to stock up on provisions.
Thursday 21st July - today we are continuing along the Caldon Canal and where it branches we shall stay on the main line and stop at Denford.
We worked our way up the five locks at Stockton Brook. These locks raise the canal up to the summit level of 484 ft above sea level. At the bottom lock there is a splendid Victorian Waterworks, an ideal conversion project!
At the next two locks there are a couple of stunning sculptures commemorating the history of the potteries and the surrounding area by Anthony Lysycia.
As you approach the Endon Basin there is an obstruction in the middle of the canal, it is the remains of a light railway swing bridge - most unusual!
We stopped at the services further up the canal - Park Lane Wharf - to fill up with water and empty rubbish. Most pleasant area, all very clean!
At the junction, the main line continues down the three Hazlehurst Locks and under the Leek Arm. Originally there was a staircase lock here, but it caused such a bottle neck for the working boats that it was soon abandoned and a new section of canal was built with three separate locks.
After the locks the canal passes under the Leek Arm on the new aqueduct built in 1841.
Once through the aqueduct you can see the remains of the basin for the original staircase lock. We cruised past the Holly Bush Inn and moored up in a quiet pleasant spot. We walked Toby through the delightful Deep Hayes Country Park and had supper at the Inn.
Friday 22nd July - we set off for the terminus of this arm of the Caldon Canal, to be found at Froghall.
On the way we stopped to look at Cheddleton Flint Mill which was used in the late 18th century to grind flint for the nearby pottery industry.
It was powered by twin waterwheels, although one was originally a corn mill.
After Cheddleton Locks and Oakmeadow Ford Lock, the canal joins forces with the River Churnett and it widens out considerably. It leaves the river behind at Consall Forge and continues on its way to the canal terminus at Froghall. The canal becomes very narrow with very low bridges along a lot of its route.
Once we had arrived at Froghall we needed to wind the boat and moor up our side of the bridge. As you can see the tunnel is very low and Ella is too large to fit through. On the other side is a delightful Wharf with all facilities, which I fear is under used!!
Saturday 23rd July - today we shall retrace our steps back to Denford.
At Consall Forge you pass so close to the North Staffordshire Railway, that you need to squeeze beneath the cantilevered waiting room of Consall's beautifully restored station.
Once back at Denford we moored up in exactly the same spot and spent the evening on board. Attempts to do some work on the blog were thwarted because of a very poor internet signal!!
Sunday 24th July - we left Denford, returned back up the Hazlehurst locks and turned left at the junction on to the Leek Arm.
We loved these two boats, our girls were always a fan of Jammie Dodgers, and I love the idea of Jammy Butty!!
The banks of the Leek Arm have some beautiful canalside properties with delightful gardens.
The canal is much wider here and it feels almost like cruising on a river.
Towards the end of the canal is the Leek Tunnel - very tall and narrow, so no problem getting through this one!!
Once through we needed to wind immediately and this is where we moored for the night. The canal does go on for another 200 yds before it ends, but the winding hole is only 45 ft, so not large enough for Ella.
We had a surprise visit from Laura and Amy on their way back from Salford to Cambridge, a lovely end to another amazing week!!
Stops on the map this week are pale blue dots, looks quite pretty doesn't it?