Friday, April 11, 2014

Up at the Leek end.

We moved off the Caldon main line yesterday, onto the Leek Branch, arriving early afternoon.

I couldn’t post yesterday, my laptop refused to boot when I fired it up. I eventually got it going in Safe Mode, backed up everything then had a piddle about, sorting it out last evening. But it was too late to do anything then, and anyhow I wanted to do a bit more housekeeping before I reconnected to the interweb.
So this morning I let it get on with doing another back-up, setting a Restore Point, then defrag on the hard drive followed by a registry clean up. It seems to be running well again now, better in fact than it was, so it was due a bit of dusting, I guess.

While Windows did it’s thing I walked up to Morrison’s for fresh veg, Alf, I couldn’t find a farm shop near the canal at Endon, sorry. Then I set about touching in the odd chip on the paint, mainly on the red handrail where I’ve been less than careful humping logs and coal bags onto the roof this winter.

Anyway, back to yesterday. Our usual late morning start took us to the services at Park Lane Bridge to fill with water and empty our refuse.

Endon Bank   

Filling up the tank at Park Lane BridgeSAM_8901

The contractors who are relaying the towpath have a temporary loading wharf just beyond the bridge, with traffic control.

It was only a couple of miles to the top of the three Hazelhurst Locks, but we weren’t going that way today, instead swinging right onto the Leek Branch

Hazelhurst JunctionSAM_8906
It’ll be a tight turn to go down the locks when we come back!

The Leek Branch was originally proposed as only a feeder to bring water down from Rudyard Reservoir. But the businessmen of the town prevailed on the canal company to make it navigable, to the benefit of the town and the canal. Leaving the junction it soon crosses both the main line (now 26 feet lower after dropping down the locks) and the railway.

There are quite a few moored boats at first, then comes a sharp left turn followed by the aqueduct.

Sharp left here under the bridge…SAM_8911


…and over the main lineSAM_8913 

Now the canal runs along the north flank of the Churnet Valley, winding around as it sticks to the contour. Although often narrow and always shallow, it passes through some delightful woods and settlements.

Horse BridgeSAM_8918

Hollinhay Wood

Leek Tunnel cuts through a ridge crossing the canal’s path, only 130 yards long but a detour obviously wasn’t possible. The canal engineers avoided tunnels if they could, they were difficult and time-consuming to cut using the tools available, and expensive in terms of materials and sometimes men.
This one is a little unusual in profile, tall and narrow.

Leek TunnelSAM_8921

It’s been repaired part-way in….

…but was originally built using dressed stone.

From the tunnel another ½ mile of canal takes you under Bridge 9 and the last opportunity to wind a decent-lengthed boat. We turned around, reversed past the only other boat here, and moored.

Moored at the end of the Leek BranchSAM_8925

The canal runs another few hundred yards to the end of navigation where the feeder from Rudyard Reservoir comes in.

Current Terminus, the feeder coming in ahead2014-04-11 11.05.22

It did go another ¾ mile towards the town, over an aqueduct spanning the River Churnet, but an industrial estate obliterates this last bit.

Churnet Aqueduct.
2014-04-11 11.05.46
Beyond the fence is a large empty site, something must have been demolished there. I think that maybe the local council is missing a trick here. The moorings at the moment are not brilliant, shallow and only room for a handful of boats. If, however, the channel across the aqueduct was reinstated, and a basin constructed beyond that fence….

Then again, if it became popular down here, the route in would become like the last bit of the Llangollen, congested and difficult. No, just leave it as it is.

Following on from the above, I‘ve just been out with Meg and got talking to a local chap. I mentioned the opportunity… and was told that there’s a proposal in the pipeline. Not only a marina, but also a new terminus for the Churnet Valley Railway! And housing too. Got to be good use of old industrial land, hasn’t it.

Locks 0, miles 4½

No comments: