Friday 29th August
Consall Forge to Cheddleton
There were six crayfish in the traps. James used the water point there to fill his bucket for them. There was excellent water pressure.
Twelfth of Never went past – last seen last year in Stourport.
By the time we left, there were workboats all over the water point so we decided not to fill up with water. It was all very quiet as we headed back upstream on the river section to Woods Lock. There was a white van there with two guys in, apparently skiving. There had been a van there two days earlier as well.
At the Cheddleton Locks, a small boat was going up in the first lock. They turned between the locks and came down again. When Gabriel went up, the short pound between the locks was very low, with mud showing at the sides, so we had to run some water down from the top lock before we could proceed.
We moored just after the flint mill on 48H rings, and, shortly afterwards, Grace arrived and moored in front of us. Hazel went shopping with Christine, and Terry showed James his quad copter, which he uses for filming.
By the time the ladies came back, James had had a shower and done the washing up. Zzzz in the afternoon, while it rained.
James found a place to put out two crayfish traps in the River Churnet, downstream of the road bridge.
Terry and Christine came for a meal and we all watched Dr Who on our TV, as they couldn’t get a signal with their system.
4 locks, 4 miles, 2hr10
Saturday 30th August
Cheddleton to Hazelhurst via Leek Branch
James collected his traps – nine crayfish, and one small fish, a miller’s thumb, which went back in the river.
American Signal Crayfish
Terry and Christine went off towards Froghall, while we waited for Hugo to come back on board. We both walked up and down calling him. Two frustrating hours later, James went for a walk to visit the church, and made a note of some changes for the BCF directory. When he returned, he went round the bushes shaking a shopping bag, and flushed Hugo out. He was only ten feet from the boat.
We cruised under the aqueduct, which has “Hazlehurst Aqueduct” carved in stone on it. The Nicholson Guide spells it as “Hazelhurst”. There is a small hamlet nearby and a wood with the hazel spelling, so it looks as though the aqueduct stonemason couldn’t spell.
There was one boat coming down the locks and we crossed over above the bottom lock. The lock beams extend further than the lock walls, over some stone steps, and James nearly fell down the steps while opening the bottom gates of the middle lock. He saved himself, but pulled a muscle in the process.
After the top lock we turned left into the Leek branch, and paused for a quick lunch before setting off once more. After an untidy collection of moored boats, the canal enters some beautiful countryside, as it meanders along the side of a hill and goes through a short tunnel. There is a large winding hole just before the terminus where we turned and retraced our route.
Leek Canal scenery
Inside Leek Tunnel
We moored for the night very close to our lunch location.
3 locks, 7 miles,
Sunday 31st August
Hazelhurst Junction to Engine Lock
We dried off the pram hood as far as we could before folding it away, and cruising the mile to the facilities block for water, rubbish, etc.
We then moored on 48H rings just before bridge 28, the nearest bridge to the Methodist Church, where we went for their 10.00am service. We had a warm welcome, with lots of people saying hello to us. There was a general buzz of conversation before the service, until the steward announced that he was lighting a candle, and everyone went quiet for a few minutes. We didn’t notice anyone arriving late. The music was led by a lady playing an electric organ, and the words were displayed on screens. The talk was based on the words “Take up your cross and follow me”. We met a lady there called Val, who is involved at Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club.
Endon Methodist Church
We paused at the Spar for some milk on the way back to the boat, and before we set off James cooked the crayfish.
We also had a look at some Industrial remains opposite the boat club, which we discovered was an old wharf complete with railway lines and the mysterious traffic island turned out to be the site of a railway swing bridge connecting Victoria Mill to the railway system at Endon
Wharf and railway swing bridge site
We negotiated the five Stockton Brook Locks, and admired the Victorian waterworks near the bottom lock.
There were also two manual lift bridges to operate before we reached our mooring below engine lock in glorious sunshine.
Hazel sat in the sun in the bows, while James sat in the shade at the stern and prepared the crayfish for the freezer.
There was a kingfisher by the lock, diving in to catch fish, but we didn’t see him have any success.
Hugo brought us a dead mouse as a gift.
6 locks, 4 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 mouse
Monday 1st September
Engine Lock to Etruria Industrial Museum
It was wet early on, so we waited until it cleared. It was 1100 before we set off, heading for Stoke-on-Trent.
James operated the electric Ivy House Lift Bridge, as Hazel had had difficulties with the traffic barriers on the way up.
At Bridge 10 Hazel left with trolley and credit card to go shopping in Hanley, while James continued on his own through Hanley Park to Etruria.
Ornate bridges in Hanley Park
Planet lock was against him, with a boat just leaving ahead of him. This didn’t present any problems.
The boat in front filled the top lock of the staircase locks for him, but there was no bollard to tie to at the top, so he had to reverse a little way through a bridge to a bend where there were some, before he could open the lock gate.
The only other challenge was the climb down the long ladders after the boat had descended in the lock.
Our usual mooring at Etruria had been taken, so he moored a little further back near the staircase, under some trees.
Hazel phoned to say she was just going into Tesco, so James went to help carry the shopping. It was a very full trolley plus three bags.
Twelfth of Never went past. We guess that Grace had gone past while we were shopping.
3 locks, 5 miles, 2hr50