Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Locks, lift bridges and a funny little traffic island…

Not many miles, though. The day started calm and sunny, but the wind has steadily increased, making steering a straight course somewhat challenging at times…

With not far to go today we had a later start, it was gone 11:00 by the time we were heading up Engine Lock.

Engine Lock, a party of ramblers taking a break alongside. SAM_8871

After this lock I sent Mags inside out of the wind, then realised that we had two lift bridges to deal with before Stockton Brook Locks.

The first was done for us by a C&RT chap who was passing…SAM_8873
But I had to hop off to do the second. I got off early so Mags could keep on going rather than have to hold off in the blustery cross-wind.

I had to double-check the map as we crossed a small stream on an aqueduct…SAM_8875
Yes, that is the River Trent, just a couple of miles from it’s source on Biddulph Moor. It gets a bit bigger later, doesn’t it!

Dunham Bridges on the tidal TrentSAM_2763 Dunham Bridges_thumb[4]

Arriving at the bottom of the Stockton Brook flight of 5 locks we found the lock full, against us, and one of the boats that had passed us this morning still in Lock 6 (the second up, the locks are numbered from Etruria Junction).
I emptied it ready for Mags and we reconciled ourselves to a slow passage up, with a boat close ahead there was no point in me trotting ahead to set the next lock.

Stockton Brook Bottom Lock, with an elegant if a little tired looking Victorian water works alongside.SAM_8878

It wasn’t too bad going up the locks as it turned out, the family on the boat ahead were making good time and we only slowly caught up.

3D collagey-thing next to Lock 5SAM_8879
It depicts local industry and the Staffordshire emblem (on the right). On the far left is a Spitfire, the iconic WWII fighter aircraft. The Stoke on Trent connection is through the designer, RJ Mitchell, who was born and educated here.

Lock 7 is just above a disused railway bridge, with, unusually, the permanent way still intact.

Overgrown but still there…
Meg and I walked a short section of this this morning, avoiding the brambles. It’s not an official footpath but is well used by local dog walkers.
It was a single track mineral line to Cauldon Lowe from Stoke, with a branch through Cheddleton to Oakamoor (now the Churnet Valley Railway, run as a Heritage Line).
The branch actually crossed the Cauldon Lowe line, heading north through Leek and rejoining the main line at Bosley, north-east of Congleton, but all of the northern section up from Leek has been lost.
A bit of research shows why the rails are still in position. It appears that it’s not just canals that have restoration enthusiasts…

Lock 8 must be pretty in the summer when the trees are in leaf..SAM_8883
This was left open for us by a descending boat, the only downhill one we’d seen in the flight.

Lock 9, Top Lock, has a converted stable block on one side…

…and an attraction lock-keepers cottage on the other.SAM_8885

Magnolia and moorstone above the top lock.

We’re up on the Staffordshire moors now!SAM_8876

From Stoke to Stockton Brook the towpath has been resurfaced to a high standard, giving an all-weather surface ideal for runners (and cyclists!) I nearly had a coming together with a bike this morning…

Above the locks the work is continuing.

Towpath resurfacing.
We last came up here 6½ years ago. If we leave it till 2020 for the next time do you think they’ll have got to Froghall?

We didn’t go much further, mooring on the piling just beyond Endon Wharf. But first we had to negotiate that little traffic island…SAM_8891

It’s actually the pivot point for a single track railway swing bridge that spanned the canal here. The line has long gone, the pivot remains.

Endon WharfSAM_8892
Now moorings for the Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club, it was built as a transhipment wharf for the railway. That same railway to Cauldon Lowe…

The club moved here after losing their home at the end of the closed Newcastle Canal in Stoke.

Moored in the sunshine near Endon

Sunshine and cloud has been the weather for today, with just one short shower earlier on. The wind has been the main factor though, cold and brisk.
I think we’ll stay here tomorrow, time for a day off. I can get the left side of the boat washed off now we’ve swapped sides, and there’s some shopping to get from the Spar shop in the village.

Locks 6, miles 2½


Alf said...

Is the farm shop still open, just round the next corner (I think !!)

Nb Yarwood said...

Geoff, Mags
Sorry about our change of plans we just thought that we were trying to do too much before we need to be back in Braunston for planned work on Yarwood. We will catch you somewhere though..
X Lesley