Sunday, 14 August 2011

Carrying on down the Caldon, and Charlie's first steam train.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Cath)

My neck was still bad, so Alan had to do most of the lift bridges and the locks.  We set off through increasingly rural and attractive countryside.

Disused Victorian Waterworks

Hazlehurst Aqueduct
After Hazelhurst Aqueduct, which carries the Leek branch of the canal over the branch to Froghall we went down a short flight of locks. At the bottom a boy was selling drinks and crisps, "cheaper than the pub". Although he certainly wouldn't have had any trading licence I applaud his enterprise.  He was polite, had a printed list of what he was selling, and the costs, as well as plastic cups, and a bottle opener for those who wanted to drink immediately. He could have been doing so many less constructive things, but had chosen to make a bit of pocket money from the passing boaters and walkers.

Interesting 'obstruction' in the canal
At some point during the afternoon we decided to see if we could get to Cheddleton station, as the Churnet Valley Railway was in steam. It was a 'Toyland' theme day, presumably because the owners of the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise have priced themselves out of the market, and designed to attract families with children, but they are only in steam on Sunday, and Wednesday at this time of year, and we thought it would be nice to go for a trip up to Froghall.

We passed Cheddleton Flint Mill, and then found a mooring a mile or so further on, near to the railway. Charlie got to go on his first rail trip, he was a little surprised by the steam engine, but took it in his stride. It's a very attractive trip, but ends up at Froghall, in an area of concrete wastelands, where huge factories have been demolished. All of the employment in the town must have been in these factories, where are those people now? What will happen to the brownfield sites, is there any point in putting more housing there?

Passing the Black Lion at Consall Forge by Train.
Froghall - a chimney remains in demolished factories
Back at the boat we set off towards Consall Forge, with the intention of mooring, and having a meal in the Black Lion, which overlooks both the canal and the railway.

Lime Kilns
By the moorings are huge lime kilns, which used to be used to produce quicklime for making the soil less acidic. Layers of limestone and coal were fed in at the top, and quicklime was take out at the bottom. In the past boats carried tons of this out to the Midlands areas for fertilising the fields and improving crop yields, but the ones by the moorings were out of use by 1848.

Charlie got a walk up the canal, then we all went to the pub, and had our meal in the garden in the evening sunshine.

Steam engine at Consall Forge

Engine Lock to Consall Forge (Caldon Branch)
Miles: 9.1, Locks: 13

Total Miles: 156.1, Total Locks: 92

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