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The Tuesday Night Club on Tour


Tour 2003


33 - Stockton Brook to Froghall, including the Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

Sunday 3rd August 2003

We were woken from our slumbers by the keen Black Prince boat leaving at 07:00. Linda then got up and we followed them up Stockton Brook, starting at 07:30. Brilliant sunny clear morning. It had been a coldish night and the sun was burning off the last of the mist.
We stopped for a water fill up at the posh Endon "Service Centre", as the washing was still going we had to keep the engine running, but the tap was fast and we were off after 15 minutes. There was no queue at Hazlehurst Locks, but we passed a few coming up. Neil noticed the working side pound on the middle lock which was secured by a hand cuff key. 
We winded at Cheddleton, above the locks and found a nice mooring just above. The reason for this tactical withdrawal was that we had to loose a bit of time, so as to meet up with Bob Wood (coming down in NB Silkwood) and Cap'n Beeky for the proposed Froghall mini GiG on Tuesday evening, so we decided to do the Leek Branch next. The rest of the day was taken up by a trip on the North Staffs (Churnet Valley) Steam Railway. We had an hour off the train at Froghall and investigated the Froghall Basin and Tunnel. That evening we walked back down again to Basford Bridge and had an OK meal in the rather busy "Boat" public house.

Monday 4th August 2003

It was going to be a short day, so it was a late start from Cheddleton at 08:50. A rather hot and humid day. We had of course winded at the end of the last day, so it was retrace our steps up Hazelhurst Locks, Leek bound. This time Neil half filled the chamber of the bottom lock with the working side pound. This was locked up with a rather greasy chain and hand cuff lock. 
At Hazelhurst Junction the rather sharp 360 degree turn was negotiated and the excellent photo opportunity looking down on the Hazelhurst Locks was take advantage of. The trace of the old staircase locks wash walls could be seen in the garden of the top cottage, before the 90 degree turn over the Hazelhurst Aqueduct.
As ever a very pretty trip up to the Leek Tunnel as the canal hangs on the valley side. Beyond the tunnel the valley opens out, good views up to the water tower of the old hospital.......this would appear to be being worked on............turning into housing??? 
As ever we ignored the last winding point signs in the wide and trundled up to where the Rudyard feeder meets the tiny stub leading up to the infilled aqueduct. Hear we did manage to wind the 50ft Beatty. After much silt stirring, we reversed Earnest against the aqueduct stub and let the feeder flow take the bow round...............just!
Once back on the piled visitor moorings (11:15) opposite the wide, a shopping expedition went to the old railway station site - now a Safeway. The rather sad route into town was taken via the industrial estate built on the old basin.
 Rather extended stay for TNC, for once we were not in a hurry, so lunch was taken NOT on the move!
We shoved off at 13:35 and took an hour to get to Hazelhurst Junction. Back down to Consall Forge, arriving at 17:30. We moored up just on the outside of the final bend. This we knew from last year was deep and in the shade to escape the sun and let the boat cool down. 
We finally met up with Bob Wood and Rosemary on NB Silkwood, who were moored up on the end of the Visitor Moorings. After a lot of chat, then showers all round we made it up to the Black Lion at around 19:00. 
As was now the norm, rather eccentric service from the couple that run the pub, helped by an old granddad type bod who served the food. Only Marston's Pedigree on, but on form. Food yet again up to last years good puby standard, the smoked salmon and scrambled egg salad seemed the best value dish on offer...rather large portions as well. 
Once back on the boat it was a magical evening and night, with buzzards mewing overhead.

Tuesday 5th August 2003

We had to wait a while for water point to clear. The Commode D' Or got rather peed off with yet another wayward hose snap on connector that would NOT stay on the pistol grip water thingy, so smashed off the end in disgust and
stuffed the hose directly on, securing with a jubilee clip. While the hose was being dragged through the saloon, to get to the Hob, to heat up the end, SCSI the parrot went bananas, throwing herself around the cage............we can only assume she has some genetic imprinting concerning very thin long yellow snakes!
All the Froghall Tunnel preparation work was now done, cratch off, two dustbins of water in front well deck, plastic gutter handrail protectors fitted and the roof equipment stored inside and the racks folded down. Off we finally set (12:00), Froghall Tunnel bound. 
Earnest steered like a pig, seeing as we were low on diesel and the bow now well down. Bob led in Silkwood and at the Tunnel approach moored up (14:00). Earnest just kept on, Neil being on a "roll" having lined up Earnest perfectly for the tunnel, without having to resort to stopping, seeing as the mouth is at an angle to the line of the canal. Straight through on tickover with out touching the handrails or the sides. As ever the lowest bit was about 20ft in. We stopped at the other end of the tunnel - we had to seeing as we did not make the sharp turn, but were more worried about making a clean exit. 
Bob and Rosemary were summoned for the rest of the "test" run. Straight through the final bridge, past the winding point and just managed to get past the hydraulic powered butty trip boat, that was rather sticking out of its dock. Right to the end of the arm, planting Earnest into the silt. Rather clean reverse back, then winding in the junction with the remains of the Uttoxeter Canal top lock. 
Passage back through the tunnel was more tricky as the line up angle was sharper, but still done without any scrapes. Earnest was winded in the "new" 65ft!!! winding point, created when the section of the canal before the tunnel was troughified. The "V" was created using wire boxes full of rocks, of course someone had removed the stones from the end most gabions. With Earnest firmly planted in the "V" we measured the distance behind and came up with a 68ft 3ins max length. 
Captain Beeky - Andrew Goodland appeared a couple of minutes after David and Shirley Kitching. Next to appear was the unexpected John Watson. Brian Dominic could not get to us until 20:00, so we decided to all decant up to the village of Foxt and grab a meal in the Fox and Goose pub / restaurant. 
It was a rather good venue, quite up market. Guzzling Goose ended up the beer of choice. Of course we over shot the 20:00 deadline, so non-dining John W went back down to Froghall, to direct Brian D up for a pint.
Eventually around 21:30 ish we all assembled back down at Froghall and did the repeat trip though the tunnel. People on the front were delighted by the bats that were trying to come back to roost, flying right up to them. Quick goodbyes all round when we returned back. Captain Beeky was to stay overnight then leave early, us not being far behind in leaving, bound for a quick traverse of the Caldon and back down the Trent and Mersey, to Stone. 
In case people are interested in doing the Froghall Tunnel, Earnest easily did it with the trim as follows: 5ft 1ins across the handrails and 5ft 4ins from front most edge of cabin side to water level.

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The old narrow gauge railway swing bridge base before Doles Bridge No 27. Stanley Moss. Caldon Canal.

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Towpath  Bridge No 27 A over the entrance to Endon Basin. Caldon Canal.

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The new facilities block before Park Lane Bridge No 31. Endon Bank. Caldon Canal.

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Hazelhurst Junction. Leek Branch to the right. We will be going down the Hazelhurst Locks to Cheddleton. Caldon Canal.

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Hazelhurst Top Lock No 10. Caldon Canal.

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Hazelhurst Top Lock No 10. Caldon Canal.

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Hazelhurst Top Lock No 10. Bridge No 36 continues into Bridge No1 over the Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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The working side pound paddle on Hazelhurst Middle Lock No 11. Caldon Canal.

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Going back up Hazelhurst Locks, to do the Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Bridge No 36 and Hazelhurst Top Lock No 10. Caldon Canal.

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Towpath over bridge for the Leek Branch. Hazelhurst Junction, heading towards Leek. Caldon Canal.

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Looking back at Hazelhurst Junction and Bridge No 1. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Looking down at Hazelhurst Locks from the Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Looking down to the main line of the Caldon Canal, from the Leek Branch Aqueduct. Caldon Canal.

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Looking back at Hazelhurst Aqueduct and Bridge No 3. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Looking down on the mothballed section of the railway, from Hazelhurst Railway Aqueduct. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Leaving the aqueduct embankment. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Bridge No 4. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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 Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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The sharp corner before Horse Bridge No 6. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Horse Bridge No 6.New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Looking back at the sharp corner before Bridge No 6. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Looking back at Horse Bridge No 6. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Waterworks Bridge No 7. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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 Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Churnet Valley. New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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The wide before Leek Tunnel. New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Leek Tunnel. New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Leek Tunnel. New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Leek Tunnel. Looking back at the relined section. New Springs Bridge No 5. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Leek Tunnel. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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 Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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 Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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West Bridge No 9. The final bridge of the truncated Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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The present end of the Leek Branch. The feeder from Rudyard Lake comes in straight on. The Canal used to carry on, over the Churnet Aqueduct to the right. Caldon Canal.

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Churnet Aqueduct. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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As far as we got up the Rudyard Feeder! Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Using the flow from the feeder to wind. A 60ft narrowboat can wind here. Leek Branch. Caldon Canal.

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Back going down the Main Line to Froghall. Hazelhurst Aqueduct from below. Caldon Canal.

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Looking back at the Hazelhurst Aqueduct. Caldon Canal.

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The Hollybush Inn at Denford is popular on this hot afternoon. Caldon Canal.

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Cheddleton. Waiting for the trip boat. Caldon Canal.

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Cheddleton Bridge No 42, at the top of Cheddleton Top Lock No 13. Caldon Canal.

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Cheddleton Bottom Lock No 14. Caldon Canal.

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Cheddleton Bottom Lock No 14. Caldon Canal.

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Basford Bridge No 44. The Boat pub to the left. Caldon Canal.

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Woods Lock No 15 and Bridge No 45. Caldon Canal.

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Woods Lock No 15 and Bridge No 45. Caldon Canal.

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Willow Cottage Bridge No 47. Caldon Canal.

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Oak Meadow Ford Lift Bridge No 47 A. This has recently been restored from a derelict condition. Caldon Canal.

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Oak Meadow Ford Lock No 16. Caldon Canal.

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Oak Meadow Ford Lock No 16 and Bridge No 48. River Churnet section beyond. Caldon Canal.

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Water Balsam and its heady scent line the River Churnet section. Caldon Canal.

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The Consall Forge visitor moorings and water point, just above the weir. There are quiet deep river moorings just above this. Caldon Canal.

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The Black Lion and Bridge No 49. Consall Forge. Caldon Canal.

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Weekday Class 33 diesel hauled passenger train on the Churnet Valley Line, passing the Black Lion. Caldon Canal.

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The inside of the Black Lion. The spot we sat at in 1977. Click here for a picture!

Consall Forge Railway Bridge No 50 A. Caldon Canal.

Consall Forge Railway Bridge No 50 A and the rather obstructive wooden towpath. Caldon Canal.

Consall Forge Railway Station. The new replacement station building is an exact copy of the one demolished by BR. Caldon Canal.

Looking back at the Black Lion. Consall Forge. Caldon Canal.

Consall Forge Railway Station. Caldon Canal.

London Bridge No 50. Caldon Canal.

Consall Forge Pottery. Caldon Canal.

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NB Silkwood and NB Earnest arrive at Flint Mill Lock No 17. Looking back at Mill Bridge No 51. Caldon Canal.

Flint Mill Lock No 17. Caldon Canal.

Flint Mill Lock No 17. Caldon Canal.

Flint Mill Lock No 17. Caldon Canal.

 Caldon Canal.

 Caldon Canal.

Turnover Bridge No 52. Caldon Canal.

The site of the 1975 breach is now an overspill weir. Caldon Canal.

Cherryeye Bridge No 53. Caldon Canal.

 Caldon Canal.

Narrow concrete lined section. Caldon Canal.

Coming into Froghall. We Keep up with Bob and Rosemary in NB Silkwood. Caldon Canal.

Froghall is still dominated by the Thomas Bolton's copper works. Caldon Canal.

Bank protection has shortened the winding point to 67ft. Froghall. Caldon Canal.

Froghall. Caldon Canal.

Froghall Tunnel. Caldon Canal.

NB Earnest enters Froghall Tunnel for the first time. Caldon Canal.

Froghall Wharf. Caldon Canal.

The end, beyond Froghall Wharf. Caldon Canal.

Looking back at Froghall Wharf. Caldon Canal.

Reversing back through Bridge No 55. Caldon Canal.

The final winding point is in the entrance to the first disused Uttoxeter Canal Lock. Caldon Canal.

Going back through Froghall Tunnel. Caldon Canal.

Exiting Froghall Tunnel. The front of Earnest's handrails (5ft 4ins off the water line, 5ft 1in apart) are the highest point of the boat and are here shown at the lowest point in the tunnel.........EASY! Caldon Canal.

Exiting Froghall Tunnel. You have to keep a straight line until you are out of the tunnel, then worry about the sharp turn! Caldon Canal.

NB Earnest in the shortened winding point before Froghall Tunnel. We are winding ready for the evening, second passage through the Tunnel. Caldon Canal.

Some of the evening Froghall Tunnel crew. Shirley and David Kitching, Wendy A, Neil A, Andrew (Cap'n Beeky) Goodland, Linda A, Bob wood and Rosemary. Caldon Canal.

We get transported up the hill to the Fox and Goose pub at Foxt.

The Tour Continues...

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