The shipping forecast

We’ve had a glorious few days exploring the nooks and crannies of the Caldon Canal. The sun shone. The blackberries flourished. The beer flowed. The Felucca dawdled, delighting in the last days of summer.

The forecast is intimidating: tomorrow’s rain promises to be apocalyptic in nature. But we don’t care, because we have a bus trip to Stoke planned (can you imagine our excitement?!). And we have our memories of our little out-and-back jaunt along the Caldon to keep us warm.

This stretch of canal was built by Brindley (Oh yes, him again!) to provide the Trent and Mersey with extra water. Starting from Stoke Etruria, it originally went all the way to Uttoxeter but now stops short of that – just beyond Leek Tunnel on one branch; just beyond Froghall Tunnel on the other. (It’s a bit like the northern line in that it has two ends; I like to think of Leek as High Barnet and Froghall as Edgware.)

It’s a right old mix of everything that the canals have to offer. There’s the interesting architecture (Stoke’s potteries). There’s the market town with frabjous local oatcakes (Leek). There’s a crazy tunnel at Froghall, even smaller than Standedge, which we couldn’t fit through. There’s the pools and the limekilns and the ridges of limestone and the glorious trees that don’t care it’s nearly autumn, and the river Churnet. There’s the secret valley: so deep there is no phone or internet reception and barely any houses or roads – to get to the nearest pub you have to drive three miles down a private road – but it’s full of glorious game birds, sweeping fields, the sound of running water… Apparently it’s called the Staffordshire Switzerland and I can see why. And then there’s the pubs. Oh the pubs! We moored one night right outside the Holly Bush and two outside the Black Lion. The Black Lion is surrounded by the canal, the river, a mostly disused railway, some evolutionary-confused chickens and no proper roads! How on earth do people get there? How on earth was it so busy? It must have been the quality of the beer and the super bar staff.

And now the winds are starting to rise. The clouds are drawing in. The weather warning has been issued. All we have are our memories and this photo diary of the sun-that-was. (And the Trent and Mersey in a couple of days. That should be fun, too.)

Stoke's potteries at Etruria

Stoke’s potteries at Etruria

Sunset at Leek pool

Sunset at Leek pool

It's definitely still summer, see?

It’s definitely still summer, see?

You looking at me?

You looking at me?

First pub. The Holly Bush. Can you spot Felucca?

First pub. The Holly Bush. Can you spot Felucca?

Ridge made from lime

Ridge made from lime

Light playing through trees

Light playing through trees

One happy camper

One happy camper

Yep. Definitely not autumn yet.

Yep. Definitely not autumn yet.

The tallest tree in the world?

The tallest tree in the world?

Outside the second pub: the Black Lion

Outside the second pub: the Black Lion

The Black Lion's chief cockerel. Look at those spurs on its legs

The Black Lion’s chief cockerel. Look at those spurs on its legs

One of the Black Lion's chickens. No that's not fur. No, I have no idea either.

One of the Black Lion’s chickens. No that’s not fur. No, I have no idea either.

Being measured for Froghall Tunnel.

Being measured for Froghall Tunnel.

Limekilns near the Black Lion

Limekilns near the Black Lion

Foraging for fruit in game country. Millions of grouse.

Foraging for fruit in game country. Millions of grouse.

Deleted scene from Jurassic Park

Deleted scene from Jurassic Park

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2 comments on “The shipping forecast
  1. nsoulsby says:

    Photo skills and photogenic-ess remaining high as ever I see! And wow, I knew I didn’t like chickens very much, I still don’t. They scare me.

    May I inquire how the apocalyptic rains are going…? I should have realised you were the smart ones who got yourselves an ark early.

    • The weather forecast might have been a little hysterical. It rained, but not so much that we needed to invite the animals in two by two.

      How’s land of the cwoffee? Have you hit your head on any more solid objects yet? Have you eaten any vegetables? X

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