Saturday and today we made our way up the locks onto the summit level at Stoke. And we couldn’t have chosen better weather. In common with the rest of the country we’ve been basking in bright sunshine under clear blue skies. Lovely.
We set off from below Stone at around 10, filled up with water below Star Lock then set to, tackling the steady climb.
We had a steady run up the four locks in Stone, following one boat for a bit meant we had to empty them, until he stopped at the services at Newcastle Road. We were able to leapfrog him and had the advantage of locks left by boats coming down. Not that there were many, it’s a lot quieter than we expected. Might be due to the number of stoppages we’ve got up here in t’north. Maybe everyone’s heading south…
Canal Cruising Company above Yard Lock.
They are the longest established family boat hire business on the network, celebrating 70 years this year. We’ve used both the wet and dry docks here.
We had a brief encounter with Dave and Jan off Yesdear at Lime Kiln Lock, just time for a quick “How are you?”. They were off shopping, we were heading in the opposite direction.
Leaving Stone we had the four locks of the Meaford Flight to contend with. No problem, no-one about so easy progress was made.
Up until the top one, where there seemed to be a bit of a hold up. Two single handed boaters were coming down, and were helping each other. All well and good but it did slow progress somewhat, especially for those following…
Meaford Top Lock
Meg taking a few moments out from the lock-work
Clear of the locks we had a couple of miles before stopping near Barlaston.
Clear blue skies with the trees coming nicely into leaf.
Moored up for the afternoon
Our neighbour, Harold the heron…
…later transmogrified into Esmeralda the cow!
She brought some friends to see us…
We stayed put yesterday, things to do including an oil-change for the donk. There were a few boats to and fro, but not as many as you’d expect on a Bank Holiday.
We decided to get going in good time today, so were on the move before 9. Twenty minutes saw us at Trentham Lock, beating any other traffic.
Trentham Lock, quite deep at 10½ feet
Through leafy Trentham
We’re still amazed at how few boats there are about. There was no-one moored either side of the Wedgwood bridge, and only one on the rings here in Trentham. We were hoping to meet some downhill boats by the time we reached Stoke Locks, but I was starting to lose confidence…
The large meadow, to the north of Trentham and on the east side of the canal, had been earmarked for residential development.
But a concerted campaign by the village seems to have been successful. One local told me that the project has been shelved indefinitely.
One development that has been continuing apace is that at Sideway, where a complex of warehouses and distribution centres is springing up.
It’s about an hour and 15 minutes from Trentham Lock to Stoke Bottom Lock, passing over the infant River Trent on the way.
It’s only about 6 miles to it’s source from here. And it’s nearly 180 to it’s outfall into the Humber Estuary, passing through Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
Not surprisingly it’s the third longest river in the UK.
Stoke Bottom Lock, aka the ugly bugger.
The original 18th century lock was replaced by a sterile concrete chamber during road redevelopment work. And not only is it ugly, it’s also inefficient, taking some time to fill. Luckily it was empty, so we were able to go straight in.
Cockshutts Lock is next, with the approach tucked under a low railway bridge. It’s a good plan to have the chimney down while negotiating these locks, a lot of the bridges are on the low side…
This and the next, Ridgeways, were full, and there was a boat approaching Ridgeway so I opened it up to let them come down first. This was only the second boat we’d seen!
The final two are close together, near the Industrial Museum at Etruria.
In Johnson’s Lock, Etruria Lock ahead.
Coming up the deep Etruria Lock.
We’d taken advantage of the fine drying weather to get a couple of loads of washing done yesterday, getting the throws off the furniture washed and dried on a makeshift line. So I knew we’d be needing water in the next couple of days. The water point at the museum was free, so we turned into the Caldon Canal, turned around and filled with water there. Not only was the water point free, so were all the moorings!
Where is everyone?
A new family of Canada geese were keeping Mr Brindley company…
Rubbish emptied and water filled we pulled back out onto the Trent and Mersey, with an hour or so cruising before we arrived at Westport Lake.
Disused and derelict pottery at Newport.
Middleport Pottery is still going strong.
I thought it’d look better in black and white, especially with Dane moored outside…
Moored at Longport Wharf, I wonder what the story is here?
She must have been craned in, there’s no way she’d have fitted through these locks!
Arriving at Westport Lake, and two canal traders are doing well. We’ve got Milly B III the licensed Bar Boat, and Que Sera Sera, selling very tasty Staffordshire oatcakes. A late lunch was beckoning, so a bacon and cheese oatcake just hit the spot.
Meg relaxing in the shade.
Harecastle Tunnel tomorrow morning, then the start of the long descent down the Cheshire Locks.
Locks 14, miles 12, two days travelling.