Middlewich to Stoke-on-Trent
Trip Start Apr 29, 2009
34Trip End Oct 01, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Rain early on. Posted a CD of Mersey crossing photos to CanalBoat Magazine, and then departed at 10.45am after the rain had stopped. The locks were busy, but no queues. There is a bust road alongside the canal for three miles south of Middlewich, so continued as far as an embankment just short of Elton Moss, which is a bit quieter.
Tue 25th August
We had a short run into Wheelock, passing Bliss going the other way (BCF members Peter and Sue Collins). Took a stroll into Wheelock with three bags of rubbish (No bins at Middlewich) and had lunch in the garden at the Cheshire Cheese. Everything looked a bit run down, with closed shops, and others needing a lick of paint. Visited the huge petfood warehouse for some cat biscuits. We took our guitars by bus to Sandbach and found the Market Tavern in the cobbled square by the ancient Saxon crosses. The folk club there is run by Vince who has a jug band with a tea chest string bass, a mandolin, a guitar and harmonica. It was very entertaining. We sang some of our usual repertoire: Wild Flying Dove, Waterloo Road, Chickens, and Flowers Never Bend, all well received. A guy called Pete gave us a lift back.
Wed 26th August
Discovered that we had lost a fender in the night, so we used one that we had found two days ago in a lock. Very damp and windy, so we took down the banner and the flowers. We emptied our cassettes - the facility has two flushing cisterns instead of one cistern and a tap, so to rinse our cassettes properly we used far more water than necessary. We started our journey up "Heartbreak Hill", and met several boats coming down, including Meanderer, with Bob and Angela. We first met them on the Huddersfield Canal two years ago, before James has his accident, and then at Sowerby Bridge soon after. We passed under the M6 motorway and stopped for a VERY LOUD lunch. It was still very windy. We had gone through 12 locks when we stopped again in the wilds by a dingly dell which Hugo enjoyed. We heard on the radio that Ted Kennedy had died. We haven't seen TV since April, except for 20 minutes in Skipton.
Thu 27th August
A very mild morning. Steady traffic both ways through the locks, with a bit of a queue and chaos at locks 52/51/50. Stopped on some rings after lock 47 at Church Lawton, and had some guitar practise. Eclipse arrived (seen earlier in Chester) James went to watch badgers, and didn't see any despite sitting in the woods for 11/2 hours.
Fri 28th August
Heavy rain at first, then we went up the five locks to Kidsgrove. We paused for water at the BW wharf, before mooring between locks 42 and 41. Visited Tesco. Rain started again when we got back. Eclipse arrived. James went to look at the tunnel entrance - three boats moored there already. We stayed put.
Sat 29th August
We set off for Harecastle Tunnel, and just missed a convoy. We had to wait an hour for the next one. The last boat coming the other way had a very noisy Lister engine - we could hear it for 15 minutes in the tunnel before it appeared. We took 35 minutes in the tunnel and had to hoot on the horn for the man at the other end to come and open the door for us. They close a large door over the entrance and suck fresh air through with a huge fan. At Stoke on Trent we stopped at Middleport Pottery and Hazel bought some blue and white bits for home. We got permission to moor there the next morning while we went to church. A bit further on we stopped at the Doulton outlet and bought some more pottery. On again to Etruria Industrial Museum where we found Malcolm and Muriel Wild, BCF members on Ichthus. We had tea with them. Hugo met a black cat and they had a small scrap.
Sun 30th August
Beautiful sunshine as we retraced our journey to Middleport Pottery to moor as arranged. Not such an open welcome. The lady agreed reluctantly, so we went up the hill to Burslem Methodist Church which was very lively. Youngsters, elderly, families, a good mix. Acoustics not very good, but seven musicians producing modern music, and a good talk about hearing God's voice and being called, using the story of Ananias visiting Saul after the Damascus Road experience. Back on board we felt we had to move off instead of having lunch, so we went instead to the Toby Carvery - very good meal. We set off down the Etruria Locks with boats in front and behind. It started to rain so we didn't stop as we passed Nutshell (BCF) on the outskirts of Stoke. The rings by Wedgwood were a bit awkward, so we moved under the bridge and tied up on piling instead - a good mooring. Hugo went off for a long time, so he must have been happy.