Sunday, July 31, 2005

Peak Forest Canal

Moved on slowly through the county of Cheshire for a few miles to reach Marple. Now we are in Derbyshire, and join the Peak Forest Canal. Turn south east and follow the River Goyt with it's wonderful views across the valley. After lifting and swinging several bridges we reach Bugsworth Basin. Now full of water after British Waterways found a leak and made it all water tight.

Bugsworth Basin

Here we met Mike & Liz again.  This time we offered a cupper on our boat.

Bugsworth Basin is a scheduled ancient monument. An industrial archaeological site.  The site comprising several basins and arms was opened in 1776. Lime stone was bought down from the Peak District and burnt in several kilns here. By the 1880's the industry had grown into a major complex of basins, arms and wharfs and become one of the largest and busiest inland ports in this country. Coal was bought in and lime taken out in narrow boats down the Peak Forest Canal.

Bugsworth Basin

Now it is a wonderful site for boats to moor and boaters to enjoy the view. The stone bridges, walls and old rail sleepers providing interest.  By the time we left there were at least 20 boats here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Macclesfield

It was back in 2002 that we first came up this canal and we had forgotten how pretty it was. The Cheshire country side is all hills and valleys. Providing grand views as the canal crosses a valley. The bridges are all made of large blocks of stone as are the 12 locks at Bosley. Much of the canal is lined with trees. Having got up the locks we are now 518 feet above sea level. We passed the old Hovis mill at Macclesfield and got to Fourlane Ends.

Here we met a couple who live on their boat and had got in touch through the internet. "Now I know you are not supposed to meet people on the internet but Mike & Liz are OK". They have a boat called 'Snecklifter' and two dogs. One is a Jack Russell called Molly! The two Mollies got on so well together that they both disappeared in to 'Snecklifter'. We were given a cup of tea and later went to the local pub. It is great when you meet such friendly boaters. By the weekend we had moved on a few miles to Higher Pointon. A marina and a mile of moored boats line the canal. We stay here for a quiet but damp weekend.

Clarence Mill

Clarence Mill.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Low Bridges then a Tunnel

Low bridges, bone & flint

Bridge No. 9

Two very low bridges were scraped under, "mind your head", to reach the locks taking us down to the end of the Caldon Canal.  The flowers kept their heads!

We looked round the Bone & Flint Mill Museum. Built for Jesse Shirley in 1857 to supply ground bone and flint for the pottery industry. The mill at Cheddleton was water powered but here a beam steam engine provides the power. Fred Dibner opened the museum some time ago. A modern factory took over the grinding in 1972.

To the tunnel

Set off next day and stopped at Westport Lake Park where super new mooring were inviting. Took a good walk round the huge lake which had plenty of wild birds to see. Picked up broken crockery like shells on the sea shore!

Harecastle Tunnel

Not far to Harecastle tunnel where we had just missed an opening. An hour later we were the first and only boat to go north through the 2 mile (2926yards) tunnel. The canal water turned red from the iron deposits underground. We could see the other end as the doors closed behind us and huge fans blew air through. The noisy wind caused a fine mist to form and it was like going through a fog in a black hole. The old tunnel had sunk in the middle so head clearance was limited. Out the other end into the sunshine again. Not nearly so bad as we had imagined. Boats only go through one way at a time under the strict control of a 'Tunnel keeper' at each end. After scraping under those very low bridges on the Caldon Canal this was easy.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

British Waterways Licence Increase

We have news that BW are proposing to increase our licence by 140%. A protest campaign is underway. Over a thousand boaters will be affected by this unwelcome news.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Back up,Tesco & Fine Feathers

We are heading back up out of the Churnet valley past the lime kilns at Consall Forge having carefully negotiated the low bridge by the railway station. Many people watching from the pub on the hill. Up through 2 locks at Cheddleton and stop by the old flint mill where James Brindley may have served as a Mill Wright.

Continue through the widening valley, under Hazelhurst Aqueduct where the Leek branch goes over, and up 3 locks to reach the summit again. The flat plain as we approach Endon a sharp contrast to the deep valley.

A lock bridge

Stopped at Park Lane Bridge and placed our order to TESCO through the internet. The phone signal now being strong and reliable. Next day the van arrived and we were fully stocked up again.

The delivery

That evening we had another of those 'all day breakfasts' at Fine Feathers. Got some more gas as well. Caldon Chandlery operates there and got me a new oil filter which is correct for my engine. It was different to the one fitted when the first service was carried out at Willow Wren in Rugby.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Down at Consall Forge we are on the river Churnet between two locks. Now out of touch as the phones, TV and radio, except Classic FM which has never let us down, could not find a signal. We are surrounded by trees in this lovely valley.

Consall Station

The canal turned into a one way street past the station which overhangs the water. Ann walks ahead with Molly to warn me of on coming boats. It is just possible to pass if the trees and bushes are not too thick. Down the lock and eventually reach Froghall moorings and turn.

Froghall Tunnel

Just round the corner a very low tunnel prevents most boats reaching the brand new facilities and empty basin. We asked about local shops but there are none. So we have discovered this canal. It proved to be quiet and peaceful and we had come prepared with a full fridge and well stocked up with food. Thankfully our tank of diesel is nowhere near empty but one bottle of gas is!

Froghall Basin

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Leek Branch

Continued round onto the Leek Branch and stopped with 2 other boats at the Hazelhurst aqueduct. This canal crosses a narrow valley with a railway and the Caldon Canal passing under it.


Next day got away first and arrived at the end near Leek. Lucky to find a space as several boats were here already. The scenery was dramatic with the short winding canal clinging to the hillside through woods and past fields with stone walls. Then through a short stone tunnel to reach the end. We walked in the cool drizzle along the feeder that brings water down from Rudyard Lake.

Still Water Cottages

Still Water Cottages

Caldon Canal

Turned sharp right onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria. This canal was built in 1779 to bring limestone and coal down to the potteries. It climes up through 9 locks to reach 484 ft. above sea level at Stockton Brook. At Hazelhurst it goes down through 8 locks for 6 miles to reach Froghall. The navigable canal is now 15 ½ miles but a further 15 miles to Uttoxeter was replaced by a railway in 1845. A branch joins the canal at Hazelhurst and continues at the same level to Leek where it picks up water from the Rudyard reservoir. The entire canal became un navigable by the early 1960's. Two new road bridges were build so low as to force us to stop and remove every thing off the roof again. Another new bridge further on had been built with sufficient clearance, presumably since the canal was reopened.

Etruria Locks