27th August 2020
After hunkering down for a few days at the top of Engine Lock we continue our journey up the Caldon Canal. We pass through two lift bridges and navigate the 5 Stockton Locks which raise the canal up to summit level, 484 feet (147m) above sea level. It was a cool and overcast day but still a pleasant cruise. The first lift bridge (Norton Green Lift Bridge)that we encounter is described in the Nicholson guide as requiring a windlass but at some point it has become electronic and now requires a BWB key which of course I didn't bring so Pat had to throw it to me from the stern of the boat! On arrival at the second bridge (Long Butts Swing Bridge!) a young lad from an approaching boat had already opened the bridge and kindly motioned as through. It was then a really pleasant cruise up to the five Stockton Locks with plenty of wildlife nestling in the reed beds.
As we ascend the locks there are a couple of interesting sculptures here, a reminder of both the pottery and spitfire industries in this region. The monuments are made up of a collection of ceramics and a spitfire fighter plane funded by the City Museum and Art Gallery to celebrate the career of a locally born designer R.J. Mitchell.
We moored at Park Lane Visitor moorings which are near Endon village, there is a small shop here, just a few minutes walk from the canal. which we walked to but they didn't stock the item I wanted so we ended up just buying an ice cream for the walk back.
We travelled just 2 miles today, with the 2 lift bridges and 5 locks in 2.5 hours.
After spending the night at Park Lane moorings we use the boaters facilities before moving on to Hazelhurst Junction. Here the main line falls through 3 locks towards Froghall, but we bear right and take the Leek Branch and moor for a few days just after the bridge. I must say this has got to be one of my favourite mooring spots, surrounded by countryside with some amazing views. We take a walk across the bridge and up onto the hillside looking down onto the boat nestled in the valley. We walk through the gate at the farm, cross some fields before finding the road that takes us back to the canal at bridge 31and return to the boat. A rather pleasant evening stroll!
30th August 2020
Leaving Hazelhurst Junction we cruise the 3 miles to Leek. We cross the main line over Hazelhurst Aqueduct, which carries the Leek branch over the main Froghall branch line and is a Grade 2 listed building. We pass a number of lovely canal side cottages before entering a wooded valley, and soon approach Leek Tunnel which was engineered by John Rennie, built in 1801 and is 130yds long (118.9 m). There is a lovely lagoon area just before Leek Tunnel which provides the opportunity to wind, however we pass through the tunnel, wind just after the tunnel and reverse into the last available mooring space. Surprisingly there is no restriction on mooring here so effectively could stay for two weeks, however there are no boaters facilities so any restrictions would be down to water and elsan capacity. We have travelled 3 miles today and it has been rather cool for August but we have had some sunny spells. Everyone passing on the tow path spoke to us and seemed really friendly.
Leek was approximately a 30 min walk from the canal with a Morrisons just 20 mins away.