Sunday, 31 August 2014


Here I am Rune
Distance 7.2 miles
Total 565 Locks 19 Tunnels
Running total mileage 861.5 miles

As anticipated we have made it to Froghall and decided not to take the Froghall Tunnel Challenge, mooring just west of the tunnel. In fairness, without the top boxes on the boat we would have fitted through the tunnel, and it is possible that if we emptied the top boxes we might just fit through, but have decided that it isn’t worth the hassle. Not entirely sure why they built this tunnel so low since it was used for transportation of lime in its heyday so that would have limited how much lime they could pile up on the boat. This has been a bit of a challenging canal since all of the corners have tended to be really sharp which makes it more difficult for us at 60’ it must be a real pain for a full length boat of 72’ who would probably have to stop and reverse at the worst of the corners.

We’ll stay here overnight and then set off back towards Etruria tomorrow to continue up the Trent and Mersey. My hoe for tomorrow will be to get back to Engine Lock which will enable us to clear Stoke on Trent the following day. 

Froghall Tunnel (from the West)

Froghall Tunnel (from the East)

Froghall Marina

The end of the canal!


Here I am Rune
Distance 2.9 miles
Total 557 Locks 19 Tunnels
Running total mileage 854.3miles

Another short day just back as far as Hazelhurst where the Caldon Canal splits to go to Froghall and Leek. Checked on these mooring on the way through to Leek and they looked quite good, although a bit windy. When we actujally come to moor on them however it appears that they are not as deep as they looked so we can’t really get the boat fully alongside. We are close in enough not to obstruct the canal but not as close in as I would have liked. Decided that this would be the best mooring point between Leek and Froghall since it would be quite a hard day’s push to do the whole lot in one day (10 miles and 8 locks) so we have made two ‘easy’ days of it. Having looked at internet photos of Froghall Tunnel I would say that we have no real chance of getting through it with top boxes on the boat, even without top boxes it would be very tight and it seems that quite a lot of people who go through end up scraping paint on the boat so we will probably moor this side of the tunnel.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Here I am Rune
Distance 6.8 miles
Total 557 Locks 18 Tunnels
Running total mileage 851.4miles

A Friday night in Leek, what could be better? As it turns out it doesn’t seem too bad a mooring at the Leek end of the branch. We are about half a mile out from Leek itself and quite isolated in a rural area. The trip along this canal is quite slow partly because it is very narrow and partly because it is also quite shallow in places. It is curious that we are unlikely to get to the Froghall terminus because Froghall tunnel is so low, and yet Leek tunnel has loads of headroom. The one notable thing about this canal is that all of the corners seem to be very tight, I don’t normally clatter into things (much!) but along here I’ve already hit the bankside on one corner and nudged a bridge at another tight corner, the canal was probably built for shorter boats (and the Froghall section for shorter people!).

Weekend has come around again (where do the weeks go?) so tomorrow morning it will be up the road to Morrisons to restock with weekend food before travelling back down the canal an then along the Froghall section.

The Leek end of the Caldon Canal

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Engine Lock

Here I am Rune
Distance 10.8 miles
Total 551 Locks 17 Tunnels
Running total mileage 844.6 miles

A far better effort today, 10.8 miles and 9 locks so that’s 19.8 ‘lock miles’ can’t help but be happy with that for a day’s work! We had to start a bit earlier, like about 10am but we have managed to achieve all targets for the day, Etruria for lunch and Engine Lock for the end of the day.
This is a bit of canal that we have previously travelled on whilst on a hire boat but, other than the statue of James Brindley that you pass as you enter the Caldon Canal, I can’t really say that any of it seems particularly familiar.  The reports are that the canal becomes more attractive the further along it you travel as  you get closer to The Peak District National Park, we’ll be covering both the Leek Branch and the Froghall Branch although it seems unlikely that we’ll reach the terminus as you have to pass through Froghall Tunnel and it seems that we will be too tall to fit through.

Traditional Stoke 'bottle kilns'.

The start of the Caldon Canal (Trent and Mersey canal going away to the right)          

Statue of James Brindley (Canal Builder)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Here I am Rune
Distance 3.9 miles
Total 542 Locks 17 Tunnels
Running total mileage 833.8 miles

Not a great mileage but an impressive number of locks which puts our ‘lock miles’ for the day at 11.9, so not so bad. One or two interesting points travelling through Stone, having read the town information board. The first photo is of the Workhouse Bridge which, oddly enough, leads to the old workhouse (photo 3). 

Alongside Workhouse Bridge however is an interesting wood carving in memory of a murder/rape victim. The story relates to a canalboat called the ‘Staffordshire Knot’ which was owned by what is now a well-known removal company called Pickfords. The skipper was a 39 year old drunken bully called James Owen from Brinklow, his crew was a William Ellis,  George Thomas and a cabin boy, Issac Mann. On or about 16th June 1839 they also picked up a passenger, one Christina Collins from Preston Brook to carry to London for one shilling and sixpence. Since part of the cargo was rum,she pretty soon began to have trouble with this crew and complained to the Pickford Office at Stoke but since the London stagecoach had already gone she got back onto the boat again. She again complained of their antics at Stone and the canal clerk advised her to complain to Pickfords later on, she never got another chance. Near to Colwich Locks, not far from Rugeley she was raped and murdered by the crew and thrown into the canal wrapped in a chain. The lock-keeper at Colwich had heard a disturbance on Owen’s boat including a woman’s scream but Owen bluffed him of what had happened.  The cabin boy, Mann, fearing for his safety had jumped ship after Hoo Mill lock and run back and told that Lock-keeper what had happened. The Lock-Keeper then informed the Police. Unfortunately by the time the Police got to the ‘Staffordshire Knot’ the crew had vanished as they had realised that the cabin boy had gone. It took several months to find these men but by April 1840 they had all been apprehended and after a trial Owen and Thomas were both hanged, Ellis was transported, apparently being the first to be arrested he had given a full written account of what had happened on the boat before the others. A sad but interesting tale, with acknowledgements to for the information.

So after leaving Stone we have travelled as far as Wedgewood ready to go through Stoke on Trent tomorrow. Took a walk from the canal to the Wedgewood factory, which is undergoing a lot of building work. There is a museum but at £10 plus another £2.50 to visit the factory itself, it seemed a bit of a lot just to look at some pottery. Visited the factory shop but nothing was of what I would call a reasonable price, and some of it was very unreasonable!! Not really my bag.

Workhouse Bridge (wood carving visible on right)

Wood carving in memory of Christina Collins

The old Workhouse