North of Hem Heath

Alan says that the title of this week’s blog sounds like something from Lord of the Rings. With the wind and the fact that we are on an embankment just before Stoke it feels a bit like being in the LOTR as well.

We were resolved to make an early start this morning and actually did so, getting away at 8.00. There seemed to be the remnants of a frost on the field and mist was rising. We made good time and moored in Stone town centre just after 9.00. Stone is a pleasant town: the shopping street was pedestrianized which was a very good thing as there were large lorries on the busy road at the end of the High Street. There was a good selection of shops though if one stripped out the charity shops there would have been a lot of gaps. I popped into the large Co-op for only a couple of things as I was determined to buy from Hammersleys the Baker and the greengrocer. The greengrocer was very good indeed, in selection, quality and price, but I was disappointed in the bakers which seemed to have a limited choice. However the granary bread was tasty and the fruit scones, though somewhat unprepossessing in appearance were delicious. Alan was very tempted by the pies but showed some iron willpower. Is eating meat pies at 10.00 in the morning a bit like having a drink before lunchtime?

We were somewhat regretful that we were in Stone on a Monday morning because there was a very interesting selection of eating places and pubs. However we were heading on so started through the eight locks around 11.00. We passed the buildings of the former Joules Brewery: I was surprised that Alan didn’t stand still for a minute’s silence. By the time we reached the second set of four locks the rain started and it suddenly seemed very cold especially after the sunshine over the previous few days. We stopped at the first possible mooring place to have lunch and warm up. It was a cold and dank place but maybe anywhere would have seemed like that. There was no question of stopping there and we headed on as soon as the rain had stopped.

We didn’t want to get into Stoke for the night’s mooring and maybe should have stopped before Trentham Lock (anti vandal key required somewhat surprisingly) but it seemed a little close to the sewage works. Hem Heath was a pleasant enough place but much surrounded by houses which is why we have ended up being very windswept. However if I ignore the warehousing and incinerator chimney at the corner of my eye it’s quite a stunning view.

Stone High Street

Old Post Office Building (now a pub)

Stone Library

Today we did 8.12 Miles and 10 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2351.91 Miles, 1386 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 40 Tunnels

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