Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Hatherton Canal at Saredon Mill

Hatherton Canal
M6 to Cross Bridge
February 2010

Having been ignomiously channelled beneath the M6 in a concrete pipe, the Hatherton Canal emerges fresh and breezy at Scawpers End Bridge on Oak Lane. This lowered bridge marks the start of a very pleasant towpath walk, which continues on for about a mile and a half to the back of the Roman Way Hotel on the outskirts of Cannock. For those of you not familiar with the hotel, it is near the A460 roundabout surrounded by Land of Leather, Pizza Hut, Motor Nation and a Shell garage.

Hatherton Canal at Saredon Mill
At the time of our visit the canal was covered with a thick layer of snow, and with temperatures dropping to a calorifier bursting minis 8C, even this fast flowing waterway was starting to freeze over. All this cold weather did have an upside as the canal line had been transformed into a scene straight out of Narnia, with the normally soft towpath rendered as hard as iron.

Shortly after Scawpers End Bridge you come to the beautifully preserved Saredon Mill access bridge, right beside a convenient lay by.

Saredon Mill Bridge, Haterton Canal

The canal then follows a winding course with water meadows on one side and a country lane on the other. Eventually, this lane crosses the canal on a skew bridge which had been 'de humped' and lowered leaving about four feet of air draft. The whole structure seems to have subsided over the years as the canal now laps over the towpath, presenting us with a mini skating rink which we would have to negotiate doubled up if we were to pass under the road.

Cross Bridge, Hatherton Canal

Hatherton Branch Canal two weeks after closure in 1952
Source- Journeys of the Swan - John Liley

Common sense prevailed and, forsaking the opportunity of an impromptu Bolero masterclass, we crossed over the snow caked road dropping down to the towpath on the far side to continue our exploration of this waterway.

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