30th October 2010
15 Miles - 14 Locks - 8 Hours
We awoke to find the wind, which had blown unceasingly for two days, had died away and the new morning heralded in blue skies and sunshine. Sure, its gone cold so we need warm jackets and gloves, but a small price to pay for the improvement.
Norton Green lift bridge
For the last two days I have observed the autumn colours are been considering how muted they appear this year, but today the sunshine revealed them in all their glory and I realised it was the overcast skies which had dampened them down. The winds have ripped many of the leaves off the trees and the horizon has been adopting its skeletal winter appearance - the 2010 boating season is marching rapidly towards its conclusion.
Stockton pumping station
The five locks at Stoke were negotiated without problem and it was a pleasure to turn into the Caldon Canal - our destination for this trip. Whilst the Trent and Mersey owned the Caldon network, it is very different. The wide deep waters of the Trent and Mersey are replaced by a narrow and shallow channel, reducing the maximum speed from about 4 mph to 2.5. The Caldon is not a canal to be hurried, similar in some ways to the Peak Forest or the Huddersfield Narrrow.
Sculpture at Stockton Green Locks
The stretch out of town is always a worry, where the line of the canal runs parallel to an abandoned railway track which offers the local youth with an abundance of ammo which they hurl at boats from the cover of dense trees. Things didn't look good when we saw lads tearing round on motorcycles, but thankfully on this passage was achieved without any inbound.
We paused for lunch at Engine Lock, using the break to repaint the solid fuel stove, which was starting to rust.
At Hazelhurst Junction we opted for the Leek Arm which was particularly lovely when dappled in the last rays of autumn sunshine. We moored in the pool just west of the Leek Tunnel, and you would be hard pressed to find a prettier spot. It bears comparison with Tixall wide but being backed by low hills and enjoyed in splendid isolation it has the edge for my money.
Sunset on the Leek Arm