Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Caldon Canal–Part 1

We have been here before but it was five years ago and, like The Weaver, we’ve forgotten more about it than we remember!  It was also pre Blog days so something new to write about!

A little bit of background:-

All the Guide books and articles about The Caldon say that it’s one of the loveliest canals and under-utilised at least by hire boaters and that is true but it does have a somewhat rocky start because it goes through  the middle of Stoke-on-Trent and the very heart of the old Potteries.  The canal turns off The Trent & Mersey at Etruria Junction which has been re-developed very well and now boasts visitor moorings, services and a small museum.  The canal is called The Caldon  after a limestone quarry from which thousands of tons were once transported each year.  Today it is possible to cruise as far as Froghall Basin and that’s all thanks to the efforts, persistence and determination of volunteers who worked hard to achieve the canal’s restoration.  In the 1960’s it had deteriorated so much that it was virtually unnavigable.  However, it was back in action in 1974 and Froghall Basin was fully restored and opened in 2005.  At Hazlehurst Junction there’s a short branch of only 3 miles which goes off towards the town of Leek.

Stoke-on-Trent to Hazlehurst Junction

Just passed Etruria Junction we had to negotiate a deep pair of staircase locks.  It’s not often I meet my match but the middle paddles of these locks absolutely beat me!  I could not raise them and neither could the lady from the boat behind.  Like it or not, we had to enlist the help of some muscle – yes, the men folk!  Even they found them tough though!  On through Hanbury Park.  The area doesn’t have a good reputation amongst boaters but I have to say that there was virtually no rubbish or graffiti and it was all very quiet.  In fact, it looks a lovely park.  We didn’t stop though!!!!  It’s an area of serious regeneration and the new housing looks very nice too.

Caldon - Angela 001 (1024x768)


This very creative tribute to the area of The Potteries was at one of the locks.

I think if you double click on the picture it will be enlarged and you will be able to see all the different parts of  it in more detail.

The rope is a symbol of the county of Staffordshire.


Caldon - Angela 006 (1024x768)

Once it had been explained to me by a passing motorist how to lower the road barriers(!!), we got through the Ivy House Lift Bridge (number 11) without any hassle!  After Bridge 14 we were beginning to leave the city behind and things started to become more rural.  We stopped at bridge 18 to see what the village of Milton has to offer the passing boater.  Quite a lot as it happens – butcher, baker, greengrocer, post office and small Co-op for starters.  We carried on through one more lock and two manually operated lift bridges before mooring up for the night near the bottom of the Stockton Brook flight of five locks.  High above planes headed on to Manchester Airport but didn’t bother us.

Caldon - Angela 019 (768x1024)

The next morning we travelled up the locks, stopped at Endon where I found a post box, chemist and small convenience store and then went on to the service block and visitor moorings at Park Lane Bridge.  Yet another place where there are free shower facilities for boaters.  (You don’t find them everywhere on the system). John is getting to the point where he can’t resist utilising these free showers!  He says he hasn’t had to fill the tank,  heat up the water, empty our small bathroom and clear up the mess afterwards and there’s more room.  Room for two he came out saying today – …………. where is THIS leading to Caldon - Angela 012 (1024x768)I wonder?! 

From here we walked to Hazlehurst Junction and The Holly Bush Inn close to which Mick & Lynn have hired a cottage for next week.  It all looks very nice.  Fingers crossed, the weather will be good because it seems that there’s a lot to see and do in the area.

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