Monday, May 14, 2012

Spring on the Caldon

Shortly after joining the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley Junction, we came up Wood End Lock, beautifully remote in the Staffordshire countryside.

More signs of a slowly emerging Spring at the end of April – Butterbur in flower near the canal . . . 

 . . . and Canada geese with their goslings (how about the contortions?!)

One of the distinctive 'Trent & Mersey' mileposts at Aston Lock, this one telling us that we were exactly at the mid-point of the Trent & Mersey as we approached the Potteries, just south of Stone.

Right at the heart of the pottery industry, Jesse Shirley's Bone and Flint Mill in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent.  The pottery industry's need  for safe and speedy transport gave a major spur to canal building, with Josiah Wedgwood and others promoting the construction of the Trent & Mersey in 1766.

Just round the corner, the first locks of the Caldon Canal, as it rises out of Stoke towards the Caldon Low limestone quarries near Froghall, 17 miles away.

The night after we arrived, and most of the next day, the wind and rain hammered down.  We 'lay low' all day just outside Stoke, heard news of fallen trees on the Caldon and elsewhere, and even had to do a little tree surgery of our own in order to make progress the next day.

Up Stockton Brook locks and along the 'summit level' to 

Hazlehurst Junction, where the 'main line' goes straight on under the iron bridge and down the locks towards Froghall, while the Leek branch bears right and then crosses the main line on an aqueduct –

 where we moored for the night before chugging on towards Leek.

We moored in the 'Tunnel Pool' just before the short (130 yard) Leek Tunnel and enjoyed a circular walk down to the river, alongside the old railway, joining the canal main line and back along the Leek branch.

Through the tunnel to the edge of Leek for some shopping, then back to Hazlehurst and DOWN the locks, under the aqueduct and on down towards . . . 

Cheddleton, with its old water-powered Flint Mill, another connection with the pottery industry.

Adam and Lottie joined us there - Lottie's first time on board Zindagi!  She seemed to take to life on board very easily - she'll be back!

An almost timeless scene down at Froghall Wharf, where very few boats can go because of Froghall Tunnel's very low headroom.

Zindagi's rooftop garden flourishing in the (patchy) spring sunshine.

Adam, Val and Lottie on deck as Zindagi comes up a lock on the return journey,

 and passing the overhanging platform of the station at Consall Forge.  The Black Lion pub (ahead) had prepared an excellent Sunday lunch on our way down.

After taking Adam and Lottie back to the car, we started our own return to Stoke, leaving the quiet Caldon waters.  Spring still seemed a little elusive, but at least we had no snow as we did in March 2008!