Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Up the hill, through the ‘ole, back down the other side.

No, it’s not a way of remembering how to tie a bowline! It’s what we’ve done today. It’s been a long trip; it always is through Stoke and Harecastle Tunnel, no matter which way you go.
You can never be sure exactly how long the journey will take. The potential hold-ups at the tunnel and the locks can add a couple of hours. And this is what happened today.
After such a long day I can’t be bothered with a load of writing so you’ll have to make do with pictures today. OK? Good.

First lock of the day, Number 43, alongside the Red Bull pub.

Mags heading under Poole Lock Aqueduct, for Lock 42

I‘ve always called it Poole Aqueduct, but the weathered date-stone says different. The date, incidentaly, is MDCCCXXXIIII, or 1834 for us plebs. This is probably the time when the locks were duplicated to speed up traffic.

You have to keep your head down going into L41!

This is the top lock on the northern/western side of the canal. The 2926 yard Harecastle tunnel is on the summit level, which runs to Etruria before starting the long descent to Shardlow.

Hardings Wood Junction.

The way to the Macclesfield Canal is under the bridge on the left, then over the previously mentioned aqueduct.

We joined a queue of two other boats waiting to enter the tunnel. The one-way traffic is controlled by tunnel keepers at either end.

Waiting for the tunnel.

We had about 40 minutes to kill as there were 3 boats in the tunnel coming north.
Brindley’s original tunnel, now collapsed in the middle.

This tunnel was completed in 1777 after 11 long years. Fifty years later Thomas Telford was asked to recommend a solution to the severe congestion it caused, and in 1827, after just 3 years of construction, the “new” tunnel was opened. This is the one we use today. Both were in use for a while, but the earlier tunnel was finally decommissioned in 1918. It’s now impassable. There’s a third tunnel, higher and to the north of the canal tunnels, built for the railway. This one is also now closed. Harecastle Hill contains seams of iron ore and this dissolves into the water causing the ochre staining in the water, on the banks and on your hull blacking!

It took us 40 minutes to get back into daylight.

Still sunny at the south end

I’ve mixed feelings about Stoke-on-Trent. There’s a lot of history here, and the city has tried to re-invent itself since the almost total loss of the pottery industry. But it still feels run-down and shabby.

Dereliction at Middleport

New and old rub shoulders near Fenton

At Etruria Junction, where the Caldon Canal heads off to the east, the canal starts descending into the Trent Valley. Inevitably, as there was a convoy through the tunnel, there was a queue of boats waiting to go down the deep and slow Stoke Summit Lock.

Queueing for the summit lock

It took about an hour to clear the backlog, then we were on the way again.

In the short pound just below the summit

We worked our way steadily down the Stoke Locks, unfortunately having to refill most of them as we were following other boats.

Railway and canal coincide at Cockshutts Lock

The huge municipal incinerator next to Bridge 109 marks the end of the built up area. From this direction it looks like a single-horned bug-eyed monster waiting to swallow approaching boats…


Or maybe that's just rubbish….   Laughing 1

Nearing Trentham we encountered the ex BW workboats Linsay and Keppel heading north

Then dropped down the last lock of the day.

NB Samuel in Trentham Lock  

We’d followed this couple all the way from Kidsgrove.

Pissers in Trentham Lock. Yes, they really are called that!

We pulled over between Bridges 104 and 103, just north of Barlaston.

The fine weather continues, in fact it’s been a bit warm sometimes today. Sweaty
Did I really say that?

Looks like I’ve waffled on as usual, after all. Ah, well.

Locks 9, miles 10½


Carol said...

Hi both,
George and I were both born and brought up in Stoke and agree as you say -it's certainly not inspiring from the canal - nor anywhere else in my opinion these days. We've only come through the locks once and were so disappointed with the whole journey, we'd go for miles to avoid doing it again!
Best wishes to you both. xx

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Carol
After I'd published the post thought of you and George, hoping I'd not caused offense. It really is such a shame that they don't seem to be able to get their act together. Even the graffiti looks half-hearted!