This morning we did a bit of sorting and tidying ready for our weekend visitors. We've also got to de-clutter and work out what we're leaving on the boat/in England, and what we'll be taking back to New Zealand. It's amazing how much 'stuff' you can accumulate in a few months!
We started off late morning, completing the remainder of the Macclesfield canal, then onto the Trent and Mersey towards Stoke-on-Trent and 'The Potteries'.
Nice looking stately home on the way; and 'Mow Cop', well as close as we got to it!
Moo Cow was as close as we got to 'Mow Cop'!
So many differently designed bridges
The last lock on the Macclesfield canal with about a 12" drop - and note the strapless top due to the heat!
Not long after the junction, at a place called Kidsgrove, is the entrance to The Harecastle Tunnel - famous because it of it's length - it stretches one and three quarter miles and took 11 years to build. There's no towpath, so in the times when boats were pulled by horses, they had to be 'legged' through the tunnel by men lying on the roof of the boat walking it through the tunnel (hence the expression 'legging it'). Meanwhile the horses would be walked across the top of the hill. Because of the amount of time it took to get boats through, another tunnel was constructed which took just three years to build and then the tunnels each became one way passages to try and ease the congestion.
The viaduct that takes the Macclesfield Canal over the Trent and Mersey Canal then swings back and they join about half a mile away
Another boater approaching the aqueduct
Looking into the Harecastle Tunnel, waiting for the oncoming boats to exit
Only one tunnel remains in use today and it's manned, but it still only takes boat traffic one way at a time. When we arrived we had to wait for six boats to come through the other way, so Barry had a chat with another boater (he loves the camaraderie between boaters!) and we had a spot of lunch.
Out they come six in a row - note the colour of the water leaching from the tunnel!
Going through the tunnel was certainly not the most pleasant experience due to the fumes from the four boats travelling within it, but it's not as bad as it used to be as they now have extractor fans at one end. If you aren't close enough to the boat in front as you complete the journey, then you'll see it disappearing out of the exit and the doors closing to keep the fan working.
Looking back at the boat following us with it's navigation lights on ...
... and of course the boat ahead
45 minutes later we emerged into the bright light, a little groggy from the fumes
It can be a busy place with boats waiting their turn
We made it through uneventfully and moored about mile along at Westport Lake, a very relaxing spot, where they've almost completed a visitor information centre built from sustainable materials including a roof with mosses on it to encourage insects and birds to the area. The walls are even insulated with straw!
Barry wanted to visit the brew shop which he'd found on the internet to be in Stoke, but we'd had no internet coverage last night to check it's precise location. When he went on-line to get directions he discovered that the shop was actually in Kidsgrove, about 100 yards from the tunnel entrance! So he had to get on his bike and find his way back along the towpath and roads and across the hill. Ah well, it's all good exercise for him - he may have the body of Mr D'Arcy soon!
Part of Barry's bike ride went past this reservoir along a very pleasant walking/cycling track
Once he'd returned with his supply of spirit mixes for the 'boat-brew', we set off to find a nice mooring spot on the Caldon canal where we could meet with Fred, Tom and Alex this evening. Reading the Nicholson's Guide it said there were some good moorings at Hanley Park with a pub not far away, so we chose that as the spot and gave Fred the pub's postcode to put into his sat-nav, hoping that there'd be somewhere suitable to park close by.
The distinctive bottle shaped kilns of the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent
Longport Brokerage, which was one of the boatyards we visited while looking to buy a boat back in April - now seems such a long time ago!
Before then we had a double staircase lock to go through so I walked to it, spotting some young boys along the way scrumping apples and throwing some into the canal. When Barry went past in the boat they apparently were throwing them at the boat and running away, which he just found amusing and wanted to tell them that they were dreadful shots and did they want some tuition!
One of two statues of James Brindley, the other being in Coventry Basin that we saw back in July
More of the old potteries buildings
A bit of pot art!
I think the people who live here need a real hobby!
We arrived at the splendid Hanley Park a short time later, and sure enough there were good moorings there. Once we were settled and had eaten tea, we took a walk to the pub that we'd told Fred to aim for and found a great place to park the car for the weekend. They arrived safely just after 9pm ready for a weekend of fun and frolics ...
The Etruria Twin Staircase Locks
Hanley Park gates at the main entrance
The street light shining on the leaves from above; looks like Autumn's on it's way!