We came up then Leek Arm yesterday, leaving at around 10:45 and taking 1¾ hours to cover the 3 miles. It’s very pretty, but hard work, with tight corners and shallow edges waiting to trap the unwary. Several boats coming the other way didn’t help, either…
Looking down on Hazelhurst locks as we set off
NB First Dawn is just coming up the middle lock of the three.
There’s a sharp left bend (where we met our first oncoming boat…) just before the pair of aqueducts that take the arm over the main line then over a dismantled railway line.
It’s very narrow here, and inevitably we met our second boat of the morning just on the bend ahead.
Unlike the couple on the front, the steerer of the Black Prince hire boat didn’t panic, and we slid past without touching. Well, boats, anyway. We were scraping along the bottom but that became a familiar sensation as we headed further up.
Some sections are wide and open with good views down into the Churnet valley…
…other sections aren’t!
The bottom is always lurking though, just out of sight in the murky water.
Finally the bendy bits end at a wide just before the mouth of Leek Tunnel, 131 yards long and beautifully built with fine dressed stone blocks.
Another few hundred yards of reed-edged navigation takes you to Bridge 9, the last on the currently navigable channel. It’s here that longer boats have to turn around…
…that’ll be us, then.
Unfortunately the only moorings consist of the piled edge beyond the winding hole, so if you want to stay and enjoy the delights that the town has to offer you have to reverse further up. Did I mention it’s shallow? And narrow? Still, we got there in the end.
There was one boat here, as far up as he could get, so I tried to get close to him to avoid later arrivals having to go past us. But a lump on the canal bed prevented me getting closer than about 6 feet from the bank so we had to pull forward a boat length. Still on the bottom here, but only 6 inches away.
We’ll be here till Monday now.
Locks 0, miles 3