Go to Allan's Page Spring 2007, Thrupp Canals Home Page Part 2, Leek to Froghall Go to Deb's Page
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Via Leek and Froghall to Gloucester

Part 1 - Milton Keynes to Leek

The rain had passed, and half of England was underwater. We decided to head north to the Leek and Caldon canals, to avoid the rivers until the floods had died down, but first we had to escape from our home territory. Although Milton Keynes had escaped the worst of the flooding, these pictures of the river Ouse near Cosgrove do show a rather different scene from normal  (the second row was taken a month later when the waters had gone down)

 

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We kept hearing about all sorts of problems ahead of us, although they were minor compared with those of the rivers Thames, Severn and Avon. The Severn is 22 feet above normal, Tewskesbury and Worcester are severely flooded, and the whole of the South Oxford is closed. At Stoke Bruerne the river Tove had burst its banks causing problems to the boats that moor there; and we heard that a landslip at the far end of Braunston Tunnel had completely closed the canal. Still, in the morning after an excellent evening drinking in the Boat Inn we left Stoke Bruerne in high spirits and headed northwards.

We met the Cheshire Jones's on their new boat "Keeping Up Too". Their previous boat had been called "Keeping Up" just like ours, but we were first by a couple of years! Strangely its new owner isn't intending to change the name even though he isn't called Jones.

By now we were seeing pictures of the floods on the TV; the RAF were winching people out of their homes by helicopter, and people were in desperate trouble without electricity or drinking water. We counted ourselves fortunate. BW had quickly cleared a passage through the landslip at Braunston, and we were soon at Braunston buying essential supplies such as a new bow rope, before stopping at Hillmorton for a couple of days to have our rusted stove-pipe replaced.

 

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A wonderful topiary duck at Buckby
I had to photograph this boat, although Debbie wasn't so sure
The lounge looks a lot bigger without a flue pipe
We passed a moto-cross event near Atherstone
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Moored at one of our favourite pubs, the Gate at Amington
The Gate pub has a wonderful painted sign.
We met a fleet of unusual canal boats at Fazeley
We met a fleet of unusual canal boats at Fazeley

We were obviously not alone in seeking out the Midland canals which weren't in flood, and there were severe delays at Fradley and then at the locks along the Trent and Mersey. But we weren't in any hurry, the sun was shining warmly, and we used the delays as an excuse to have long chats with our fellow-boaters. And we weren't the only ones enjoying the change in the weather; when we tied up to have an afternoon barbecue at Rugeley, for example, while I hammered in the mooring pins I was intently supervised by a handsome fox who stood beside me on the towpath and watched my every move most carefully before he strolled away.

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Joules Brewery at Stone. No longer a brewery (unfortunately)
With a name like Jones I have to love this sign in Stoke-on-Trent
I really love this sign too. "Tacle & Bait, Air Guns, Archery, Boats & Engines, Country & Western, Line Dancing"
After turning right at Etruria the canal twists its way towards the first staircase lock
Entering Etruria staircase on the Caldon Canal
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There are several lift bridges on the Caldon Canal
Debbie strides across with a windlass in her hand ...
... and easily winds the bridge up hydraulically ...
... as far as it goes ...
...and winds it down again. Total time taken just 3 minutes 10 seconds

After passing through Stone and Stoke-on-Trent we were at last on the Caldon Canal. By the time a couple more days had passed we realised we would soon need a pump-out and tried to find the post-office near Endon which sold the necessary cards. We walked for miles, following the directions on the signs and the map, but failed to find it so we phoned BW.After a long time on an expensive phone-call trying to find someone who actually knew where the Caldon Canal was, they eventually told us we needed to be 2 bridges further up the canal, but when we got there they told us we had been at the right bridge after all. I was furious!

 

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Ivy House bridge lifts electrically; it's, quite slow so you can get a good queue of cars.
There are some interesting stone sculptures beside some of the locks
The approach to the bridge before Endon is obstructed ....
... by the pivot of an old railway swing bridge ...
... which is quite tricky to avoid

Reaching Hazlehurst Junction we chose the Leek branch and pottered through the beautiful countryside against the surprisingly strong flow of current until we reached Leek Tunnel. There's certainly plenty of headroom in the tunnel, and just beyond it is a winding point that says boats over 45 feet in length should turn there. We of course obeyed the signs, and turned round before reversing the last half mile to the very end of the canal. In the picture here, our stern is in the mouth of the feeder which is only a few inches deep.

 

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Approaching Leek tunnel
No shortage of headroom here
Reversed to the end of the canal (behind us is the feeder from Rudyard Lake)

So now we had reached our "furthest north" point of 2007, and it was time to head for Froghall  ...

 

 

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Go to Allan's Page Spring 2007, Thrupp Canals Home Page Part 2, Leek to Froghall Go to Deb's Page

 

 

All pictures on this site are Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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