We made a fairly early start but even still NB Ray of Light had left before we got up. Alan had some bits and pieces to do so I walked along to Milton for the Saturday Guardian. It’s quite a walk, or at least it was further than I had expected, and by the time I got back Alan had taken the boat through Engine Lock and I jumped on at the bottom. There are some very tricky bridges to negotiate on the stretch down to Hanley and I was steering as we went under the particularly difficult Bridge 18 at Milton. An elderly lady walking her dog stopped to watch with an appraising look. I thought that she had obviously seen a fair few collisions with the bridge and was waiting to see if there would be another. “Good steering” she said with approval as I got through without scraping. It would have been very embarrassing otherwise.
Bridge 14 also caused problems. Although there was plenty of width it was very shallow under the bridge, with obstructions under the water. I don’t know if there was rubbish dumped or just silt build up but I had to go backwards and forwards until I finally wriggled round. Alan operated the Ivy House Lift Bridge which was much easier on a Saturday morning as there were no cars. After the lift bridge we passed through the area of former mills on the left hand bank, which is now fenced off and waiting for redevelopment. Or the Hanley Degeneration Area as one of the many political comment graffiti said. The wonderful play park at Hanley was full of children on a lovely sunny day. The canal actually goes through the centre of the park and on the other side there is an area of smooth lawns where people were enjoying the sunshine, and then an ornamental lake. As is often the way the best weather while we were on the Caldon Canal was on the last day as we left.
We took on water at Etruria and went on towards the Harecastle Tunnel. We didn’t want to go through until the following morning so decided to moor next to Westport Lake. We weren’t sure if we really wanted to stay the night there, and there was only one other boat. Several boats had hurried past to catch the last convoy through the tunnel. We thought that it might be worth taking a stroll along to the tunnel entrance to see what the moorings were like there, and if there was room for us. It was actually a lot further than we had anticipated but we could see that it was a pleasant place to moor and there was only one other boat which had missed the deadline, so we trudged back and moved along for a very peaceful night.
Today we did 9.03 Miles, 4 Locks and 1 Lift Bridge
Statistics so far:-
2396.83 Miles, 1423 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 89 Lift Bridges, 42 Tunnels