It was so deathly silent at Consall Forge that we didn't wake up until 10 o'clock! Emerging from the boat into daylight, Chris and Morgan next door were already up and about with their lines over the front of the boat catching American Signal Crayfish.
Pretty horrific looking creatures, all that was needed to catch them was some liver on a line
They'd told us about this phenomena yesterday evening; apparently these creatures were brought across the Atlantic to farm as gourmet food but never quite took off, they also escaped into the canals and are a real pest eating the British crayfish which are even smaller. Crayfish in New Zealand are enormous in comparison with either variety, and we can get an excellent meal from them. These American cousins have just a snippet of meat in their tales, and a morsel in their claws. Yet another reason not to swim in the canals as they have a nasty nip! Though apparently you only find them in the Caldon, the Macclesfield and the Oxford canals.
Don, with Morgan and Chris on NB Dovedale, trying for more crayfish
The Lime Kilns close to the mooring at Consall Forge
Exit from the river back to the canal, where some clever dick has built the landing so tight that you scrape the side of the boat going through however careful you are!
Converted railway housing presumably
The remainder of the journey on this arm takes you to a place called Froghall. Just prior to the basin there's a tunnel which we were hoping we'd get through, but had been told by numerous people that it was unlikely. It seemed that the dimensions that it takes differ depending on who you ask or which publication you read it.
At the final lock before Froghall Tunnel there's a plastic pliable 'gauge' as you exit the lock, which gives the approximate shape and size of the tunnel - no more than five foot cabin height or depth. We didn't quite make it underneath without flapping the sides so no tunnelling for us! On reaching the aforementioned it looked as though it would take our boat, but of course there was no way we could've attempted it - wouldn't it be embarrassing to give it a go and get wedged?!
The tunnel template at the end of the last lock before Froghall Tunnel
Such neat bridge shapes, but oh so narrow!
Looking down the barrel of Froghall Tunnel - is it really that low somewhere inside?
We don't see how any boats ever go through it, and Froghall Basin is this immaculate place with superb moorings but completely devoid of boats! Money was bequeathed to the basin for improvements, and we're told that a lot of more money was added to it and spent doing it up a few years ago. It has an abundance of weeds growing - I wonder why? We reckon it must be one of the cushiest BW jobs going - and we saw a very pucker BW worker strolling along the towpath bless him!
We walked to the lime kilns there, and took a look around the area. It's extremely isolated with no phone or internet signal. Luckily there'd been a wi-fi at the pub last night, so we'd been able to publish a blog (thanks Jason!). Lime was an important agricultural material in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The limestone was burnt with coal at the top of the kiln, the end product of which was quick-lime that was shovelled out of the bottom and taken to waiting boats - it would've been a shocking career as it's a terrible irritant. In the 1770's 50 tons of quicklime was produced here, but by the 1850's this rose to 6,000 tons! It's incredible to think how busy this place would've been, it's just so deserted now.
The six old lime kilns
What a beautiful, tranquil setting
An old tiller outside the Information Centre - sadly it was closed!
We had a bit of a walk around the basin and then a climb up a hill (at Barry's insistence!), emerging onto a very busy main road from Leek to Uttoxeter. Back to the boat and we returned along the Caldon as far as we could go before the sun set.
Sandra feeling the strain of the almost vertical incline
A few scintillating scenes on the way back up the Caldon ...
Lichen on the lock wall; very pretty but a bit boring!
Jill & Den's boat (almost!) - bet that rocks!!
It's been a long day on the cut!
Tonight we couldn't seem to get an internet connection from the mooring so Barry walked closer to the town with the laptop, then up a hill, then back again and up an even taller hill, where he said he thought he could see all the way to London! It still wouldn't connect, which was terribly frustrating, then when he got back to the boat we realised that our 'Three' credit had expired for the month because we didn't top it up correctly for broadband use - duh!