Sunday, 27 October 2019

Cruising the Trent and Mersey and Caldon Canals

From Whittington it's not a long cruise to Rugeley where we were able to easily get a mooring right near the Tesco Supermarket, our cupboards were a little bare. It had been around three hours of cruising and only three locks to knock over, so a leisurely days cruising. Two days here and we were off again to spend a couple of days in Great Haywood and once again a leisurely cruise, this time one and a half hours and two locks for the day. Another two day stop and we love to get across the Essex Bridge to Shugborough Hall and have a walk around the estate. If you would like to know more about Shugborough go here.

To continue our town hopping, another short cruise, this time to Stone, where we had the boat hull blacked at the start of the season. Just one day in the 48 hour moorings before we moved up four locks to the other end of Stone and on to the five day moorings, we were heading for Scotland for the last time this season.

When we were up in Scotland last and on our tour of the Outlander Series sites we went to Falkland for a half hour visit as it doubled as an early Inverness in the series. We didn't have time to see what really caught my eye, Falkland Palace! So, it was in the car and back over to Falkland in Fife for another visit. The palace as you see it now was begun in 1501 on the site of an existing castle and previous to that, in the 12th century, a hunting lodge. It is one of two Renaissance palaces in Scotland.  The palace is a National Trust site and well worth a visit.

Falkland Palace

Falkland Palace from the street.

Tapestry in the hall

Mary Queen of Scots' death mask

The queen's bedroom
Back to the boat and just an overnight stay in Stone before we were off to Stoke on Trent. Rather than make it a leisurely trip we had booked some tickets for the cinema at Festival Park, so it was a six hour, 12 lock trip. Two days in Stoke outside the Toby Carvery before winding (tuning around) and heading back less than half a mile to the junction with the Caldon Canal, first opened in 1779. A tank of water at the Services near the junction before heading up Locks 1 and 2, a two chamber staircase lock. We finished our first day on the Caldon at Endon. The weather was rather average so we stayed an extra day then headed off towards Leek.

 The Caldon Canal junction, Leek to the right, Froghall to the left.


An easy run to Leek, winding just after the 120 metre Leek Tunnel then reversing back three boat lengths to our mooring.


The terminus of the Leek arm is another few hundred metres on with a 45 metre winding hole, not quite big enough for us!


The tow path across the now filled in aquaduct into Leek. Morrisons is a fifteen minute walk, Leek shopping centre an additional fifteen minutes.


Heading off from our Leek mooring towards the tunnel after four days.


Out of the tunnel...


We headed back to the junction while it was a reasonable day for cruising. The weather hasn't been very predictable and it started raining as we arrived back at the junction. A short but heavy rain storm and then we knocked over the three locks to get us under the 1841 built, Hazelhurst Aquaduct and under the Leek Arm above.


Last time we were on the Caldon the moorings were limited at Cheddleton but some investment recently from various sources has allowed CRT to more than double the number of moorings. There's room for approx. a dozen 57 footers!


We were still dodging the rain and on Sunday we took a tour of the Cheddleton Flint mill. This water powered mill supplied flint to the nearby potteries including the Wedgewood company.



The weir with channel to the water wheels
The furnaces
A collection of mill wheels
A half hour walk down the tow path from our Cheddleton mooring for a drink at The Boat Inn.


And just near The Boat, the Cheddleton Station (excuse my finger) part of the Churnet Valley Railway maintained by volunteers.


Looking back down the hill to the main road through Cheddleton, we found a nice tearoom called the Old Schoolhouse Tearoom, at the top.


We were told that the Churnet River was well up and to get to Froghall we had to drop on to a river section after Lock 16. We left our mooring on yet another overcast day, under the building in the pic and to the first of several locks for the day.


It wasn't a long cruise to Lock 16 and sure enough the River Churnet was in flood, well into the red, too dangerous to attempt going further. We turned and headed back to Cheddleton.




Consall Forge moorings are at the end of the river section on the Caldon. We didn't have time to wait around for the river to go down and take the chance of getting cut off, we were heading home to Australia in a few weeks. But with a visitor dropping in for a couple of nights we decided to head to the Black Lion at Consall Forge for dinner, it was the only way were we going to get to Consall Forge this year. It turned out to be good company and good food.


It was time to head back to Stoke. One of the sculptures beside the lock on the main line. There were several of these depicting aspects of the surrounding area such as pottery.


One of the locks, note the split in the bridge to allow the rope of a horse powered boat to go through, the safety rails are a later addition.


On our mooring at Milton and starting to feel the cold, it was time to stoke up the fire for the first time in six years.


Coming back into Stoke on Trent. Here we are about to pass under one of the ornate bridges of the city park. We had been told to keep an eye out for stone throwers in this area but no such problems. These issues come up from time-to-time, generally in the main school break.


It was time to head for our mooring and pack up for the winter.

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