Saturday, 5 September 2009

Up the Caldon to Endon

The moorings at Etruria proved to be peaceful overnight, but I did need to add an extra layer to my thin curtains to block out the light. Some of the locals were unfriendly but that isn’t unusual. Why they approach the boat and then start having a go at my poor little do I don’t understand.

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The staircase locks were the first obstacle of the day, and things started off badly as I was concentrating on getting (and failing) a good photo of the locks as I approached and ended up allowing the boat to get into the substantial flow coming down the overflow. It was a bit of a struggle to haul the boat out of the flow and get it properly tied so I could set the locks, but at least it was early in the day so there were no witnesses to my incompetence.

DSCN1743Approaching the staircase before it all went wrong

The lower chamber is missing it’s buffer plate and so there was a good chance of getting the boat caught up again so I ended up having to use one of the lock bollards. These have been discussed a great deal and most of the time I have no use of them, but on occasions they are invaluable.

With all the locks of recent days having been relatively deep, Planet Lock seemed out of place with it’s 3’ 10” fall, looking on Wikipedia explained that it had to be added as the whole of Etruria had subsided. there are nice looking moorings at Hanley Park, and new looking ones all the way from bridge 8 to the lift bridge, but there wasn’t a single boat moored on them. The bridge was likely to have been the first real obstacle of the day and sure enough the control panel is on the offside with the only convenient mooring points being on the towpath. Luckily there were some convenient passers by to rope in to operate the bridge for me. I stopped for lunch and dog walking just below Engine Lock, the canal now passing through countryside again. The water flowing down past the lock could caused problems if I had needed to moor below the lock but as a boat had come down shortly before I got there I knew it would be empty and so could leave the boat in the mouth of the lock whilst I opened the gates.

PICT0029I was again lucky with the next lift  bridge, as I approached it a young girl asked if she could work it for me, a request that I was happy to agree to. I finally had to do the work myself at the next bridge and taking my long bow line across with me to haul the boat through worked well.

The final locks of the day were the Stockton Brook flight which I really liked as they are in a wonderful setting and really well maintained, the sun even put in a brief appearance part way up the flight. I had been wondering whether the flow down the locks was usual or due to the wet weather we have been having, but at the top lock it became clear that it is due to water being run down to The T&M summit level, presumably due to the extra traffic caused by problems elsewhere. Onto the summit I soon arrived at what is mentioned only as “Obstruction in centre of canal” in my Nicholson’s guide. Just round the corner looked like a good spot to moor which meant that I was close to the obstruction to go back for a better look, on the offside there are other archaeological artefacts and it turns out that the obstruction was the pivot point of a swing bridge that carried a railway across the canal at this point. There is more history of this bridge and the mill it served on the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust website.

I seem to have ended up having a day off again today as just as I was about to get moving earlier today the wind picked up again and it looked as if it was about to rain, although it has cleared up again.

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