Monday, 29 July 2013



Yes,we’re back in Willington,we left here back in December and didn’t expect to be back this way for a year or more,but circumstances have decided otherwise,but “hey ho” it’s for a good reason.

I know I have been quiet,blogwise,since July the 9th but that’s because (a) I’m having a few issues with the lappy,and (b),the weather has been so good and we’ve had such a fantastic time that I couldn’t tear myself away and write a blog.

We were moored on the Leek Branch of the Caldon when I did the last blog and while we were there we took the opportunity to walk into Leek itself to see what delights the town had to offer.The first half mile or so from the canal,is through an industrial estate but to those who have an interest,as you get to the B&M stores,you look to your left and see where the canal used to terminate.It’s now a builders merchants and sadly there’s no trace left.Leek itself was good with a wide variety of shops and a market on Wednesdays,well worth the visit and the moorings at the end of the branch are fine.

Leaving the Leek Branch on the 11th,we headed back along the Caldon to Etruria and a rendezvouse with Robbie and Suzie from the good ship Swamp Frogs,stopping first at Stanley Moor for a day or two to give Chyandour a good spruce up.I’ve wanted to stop there since our days on hire boats ‘cos it’s in the middle of nowhere and the mooring is good.There’s a pub in the village if you want a walk,though we didn’t bother.After there we enjoyed a couple of days in Etruria with Rob and Suzie,before going up the T&M to Westport Lake,where it was so hot that Lisa and I just spent our time outside and cooked on the Barbie.On the 18th we nipped up to the South Portal of the Harecastle Tunnel where we winded and watered before heading back to Etruria to have one last night with Swamp Frogs before going our separate ways for a few months.

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On the left is James Brindley’s original South Portal of the Harecastle Tunnel,long abandoned.To the right is us filling with water after winding at Thomas Telford’s South Portal.

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The left pic’ is where the junction of the Burslem Branch Canal used to be,it was opened in 1805 and abandoned,after a breach,in 1961.The one on the right is part of the site of Shelton Steel Works.There had been an iron works on this site for over 150 years and in it’s heyday,employed 10,000 people at 5 coalmines,the steelworks,blast furnaces and other associated works.It closed in April 2000 and now there’s nothing left but wasteland and piles of hardcore.

After our farewells to Robbie and Suzie,we set off for our next destination,the Canal & Music Festival at Alrewas.On our way we stopped at Rugeley for a day or two and had a couple of pints in the Mossley Tavern.This is a lovely pub but sadly there are no moorings close too it and you have to walk a bit,though it’s not unpleasant,along the Towpath.From there we made our way to Fradley,getting caught out by a thunderstorm with some torrential rain on the way.We had to pull in and moor,the rain was so heavy.Our stay in Fradley this time was just for the night and a pint or two in The Swan.It’s great sitting outside watching the boats go past and how some of them negotiate the junction with the Coventry Canal.Some interesting manoeuvring,it reminded us of how we used to be and why we preferred to venture out in the depths of winter when there was a much smaller audience,if any.

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A statue called Privilege,situated on the A53 near to where the road crosses the T&M at Etruria.Joule’s Brewery at Stone on the T&M,from here ales were sent around the world,starting their journey on the canal.Sadly this brewery was closed in 1974.

We arrived for the Festival at Alrewas last Wednesday,and it was one long party right through till “ last orders “ last night.We had a great time as well as having our family come over for a visit on Saturday.One thing about moving around the canal system is that you get the chance to make some more friends as well as meet up with others you haven’t seen for a while.To the crew of Betty D,we send all our best for your adventure tomorrow,Tuesday,it was great to meet you and we look forward to our next encounter.There were others too,too numerous to mention individually,but we will meet again.From Alrewas we have made our way here to Willington,again through some thunderstorms and torrential rain.

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Chyandour decked out for the Festival,sadly the 550 LED lights can only be seen at night,surprise,surprise.Lisa with Evelyn in the canoe and Jack in a Kayak on the canal at Alrewas,loads of fun for everyone.

Well,that brings us back up to date with our blog,sorry it’s only a brief outline of our experiences these last three weeks.We will possibly stay here in Willington till Wednesday and then set off towards our next destination,Trent Lock.It’s from there that we are going to meet up with Janice and Foxxie and Ma,Mandy,Shaun,Sam and Milly,in Hucknall,for a party Saturday night and also,we get to see Janice’s new home.

That’s all again for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done the fantastic amount of 43 Locks and 62 Miles,giving us a grand total of 422 Locks and 577 Miles since we set off last October.Take care everyone.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Two Weeks on the Caldon.


We are now moored at the end of the Leek Branch of the Caldon Canal in the county of Staffordshire and since our last blog we have been having a great time.The reason I haven’t posted for a little over two weeks is because,as well as having visitors for a few days we’ve also finally met up with some friends and as a result,there doesn’t seem to have been enough time to do a blog.

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A couple of pic’s of the old Top Bridge Works at Middleport,just south of Westport Lake as we were leaving.The Bottle Kiln in the right hand picture is the basic Updraught Type,built about 1830 and the only one remaining of as many as 7 at various times.There has been a pottery on this site since 1783.

We left Westport Lake a couple of weeks ago and cruised a couple of miles along the T&M to Festival Park where we intended to stay for a couple of days while we replenished our stores ready for Richard,Karen,Joshua and Owen arriving on a visit from Perth in Scotland.They duly turned up mid morning on Saturday,and we headed off down the Caldon Canal,this route seemed like a good idea as they would only be staying for five days and we could cruise all of the Caldon in that time.

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39 Steps ???,no,there are 197 of them and they are alongside the Lime Kilns at Consall Forge,you can’t even get onto the top of the kilns off them.The Lime Kilns are on the right.

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The statue of James Brindley,the builder of the Trent & Mersey Canal,as you enter the Caldon Canal at Etruria.A couple of Bottle Kilns that can be seen as you leave Hanley,they are the only structures left on a site that has been levelled.

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The Lime Kilns at Froghall,the end of the Caldon Canal today.It did continue on to Uttoxeter but after thirty odd years that stretch was closed and a railway line built in 1845.On the right is the Flint Mill at Cheddleton on the Caldon.The Mill here was powered by waterwheels and was used to crush Flint for the pottery industry.The crushed Flint being transported by Narrowboat to Stoke on Trent.

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Richard winding the Lock Paddles and you can see the effort he’s putting into it.Owen at one of the artworks on the Stockton Brook Locks.

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Richard and Karen relaxing as we exit a lock and Owen and Josh at the stern when we moored at Consall Forge.

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A Steam Train Leaving Consall Forge Station and crossing the Caldon Canal.Chyandour Moored at Consall Forge with the BBQ lit and a train passing the Black Lion pub in the background

Last Wednesday while on our way back to Etruria,so that Richard and Co. could return to Scotland,who should we meet,about half a mile below Stockton Brook Locks,but Rob and Suzie Conroy on their boat Swamp Frogs.After a brief exchange of details as to our intentions over the next couple of days,we agreed to meet up by the end of the week and then went our separate ways.We moored up by the Museum at Etruria and walked to Festival Park and the Toby Carvery where we had a great meal before waving away the family.Better for them to drive back to Scotland on an evening than first thing in the morning.

All stocked up again,toilets empty,water tank filled,we set off back down the Caldon on Thursday and our rendezvous with Swamp Frogs.We “ ran into “ them shortly beyond where we had seen them on Wednesday,they don’t travel far it seems,which suited us all over the next few days.Sunshine,BBQ’s,Beer and laughter were what we enjoyed from then on.We stayed below the locks at Stockton Brook till Saturday and then did the 4 Miles and 8 Locks as we headed for the Hollybush pub just after Hazelhurst Aqueduct.Xzena and Evelyn were coming out to see us the next day,bringing our mail as well,and then staying for lunch.After they left we stayed with Rob and Suzie,enjoying the same amounts of beer and laughter as before until today,then we winded at Cheddleton and made our way here.There’s a weekly market in Leek tomorrow and we are going to pay that a visit and do a bit of shopping before heading back towards Etruria again for the weekend.

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Robbie and Suzie from the good ship Swamp Frogs crossing the stepping stones on our walk through Deep Hayes Country Park on our way to the Red Lion at Cheddleton,which unfortunately,is closed on a Monday and we didn’t know.A Guyser at the middle lock on the Hazelhurst Locks.There’s a vent next to the Ground Paddles and water gushes up through the vents when filling the lock and catches the unwary.

That’s all for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done the stupendous number of 45 Locks and 57 Miles,giving us a grand total of 377 Locks and 515 Miles since we left Trent Lock in October.