This week we are moored on the Trent & Mersey Canal alongside the site of the former Port Vale football ground at Westport Lake in Stoke on Trent .Port Vale FC were named after the “ Valley of Canal Ports “ on the Trent & Mersey canal and were founder members of the Football League Second Division in 1892,they had a ground here from 1881 to 1884.The area used to be a rubbish tip but Westport Lake is now a nature reserve,well known for its waterbirds and is popular with walkers and fishermen.
Not quite the view from the bedroom window,but it is what you can see of Westport Lake,just a few yards away from where we are now moored.The “Town Pump” at Sandbach,used in the 19th Century by some of the lucky residents of Sandbach to get water.
Last Week we were moored at Wheelock and on Tuesday while walking around the village being nosy,as you do,we saw people waiting at a bus stop and decided to go where they were going,which turned out to be Sandbach.Everyone’s heard of Sandbach Services on the M6 Motorway,well the town is a little over a mile from the M6 and is probably best known for being the former home of two of the most famous British truck manufacturers,namely Foden and E.R.F.We had a pleasant couple of hours there,for less than a couple of quid each on the bus,and then enjoyed our last night in Wheelock with a pint or two in the Cheshire Cheese.
A couple of Anglo-Saxon High Crosses in the Market Square of Sandbach.They are thought to date from the 8th or 9th Century and are carved with religious scenes and dragons.One of the double Cheshire Locks,this one is the first of the Thurlwood Locks as you approach the village from the West.
Our next stop was Thurlwood,which is now joined to Rode Heath,this was a village that was quite a hive of activity in the 19th Century.There was a Salt Works here that was owned by Suttons of Shardlow,there’s nothing left now though and,the area has been landscaped and turned into a nature trail.There was also a boatyard and a Flour Mill,again,there’s nothing left,just a sign next to some newish housing indicating the site of the mill.In the early 19th Century,because of congestion on this stretch of the T&M,which was called The Cheshire Locks,most of the locks were duplicated and then,after World War 2,when the canals were in decline,some of them suffered from subsidence and were abandoned.Not the one at Thurlwood though,in 1957,a steel lock was built but it was awkward to use,it fell into disrepair and was dismantled in 1988.There’s nothing of this lock remaining now except the Lock Landing.
The second set of locks at Thurlwood,this one the site of the Steel Lock.The Lock Landing and the bridge over the lock approach are all that’s left now.Lisa with the site of what was once the Salt Works,behind her.
After Thurlwood,we did all of 12 Locks and 3 Miles to Church Lawton where we just relaxed and took things easy for a couple of days.There’s not much to do around there,though we did walk to Harecastle Tunnel to refresh our memories as it’s been about four years since our last trip this way.We left Church Lawton this morning and having stopped for water,etc.at the services at Red Bull,just before Hardings Wood Junction,we went through the Tunnel and moored here,where we will stay till Wednesday or Thursday.
The entrances of the Harecastle Tunnels,there were three,two canal and one rail.These two are the canal tunnels,the first to be built by James Brindley between 1770 and 1777 on the right and Thomas Telfords from 1824 to 1827 on the left.Telfords is now the only one that is navigable which you can probably guess from the photo’s.
That’s all again for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done the Majestic sum of 26 Locks and 10 Miles,giving us a grand total of 332 Locks and 458 Miles since we set off last October.Take care everyone.