The morning dawned and with it big fat raindrops. As a result, none of us were that keen to get out of bed, so a leisurely Sunday morning was had by all. As we were right below the staircase, we did not have far to go until the first lock!! A drizzly passage through the staircase and the locks WERE as stiff and as heavy as I remember. It’s great to be in this canal again and great to “see ” it through James’ eyes, as it’s the first visit that he remembers.
The rain drizzled on and so did we, through Stoke suburbia commenting on what was new, what was different and what we were unable to remember- unfortunately, mostly the latter!!
Planet and Engine locks slipped by and then it was my turn for galley slave… Baked bean and veggie burgers with steaming coffee warmed the cockles on such a drizzly day. A stop at Milton for food shopping, reduced price chocolate eclairs and a change of boating scenery killed another hour. A bit if fun with an electric lift bridge and less so with 2 manual ones took us up to the fab locks at Stockton Brook.
James and I found the disused Stoke to Leek railway line still had the rails on it, so a quick scramble up the embankment was in order.
Passage through the locks was slow, but plenty to see an reflect upon….A fabulous building that housed the pumping station for the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board…they don’t make them like they used to and in its current poor state, the building still “trumps”many a modern monstrosity.
A quick stop for water and toilet emptying and the we were on our way again, within striking distance of Hazelhurst Junction. A little busier there than I expected, but we turned off on the quieter Leek Branch. All the locks were done for the day, so there was little else to do but enjoy the 3 miles or so until the Leek tunnel. The canal hugs the valley side and the rivers and floodplains are clear below as we sailed past the tops of trees. Progress through the tunnel was swift and as a short boat, we were able to cruise confidently to the very end and mourn the loss of the canal going further into Leek. The sun shone on us in that small basin area and it would have made a fantastic mooring spot, except that the sides were to shallow and the bank too crumbly. However, we found a great spot and enjoyed our deserved place as one of the few boats able to make it as far as we did.