Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


On Monday we left Leek and made our way back to Hazlehurst junction where the Leek branch crosses over the Caldon Canal on an aqueduct,
then we took the sharp turn down the three locks on the Caldon,
then a bit further on and this time under the Leek branch
to make our way to Froghall at the end of the Canal.

Leaving the last lock on the Caldon there is a curtain to measure up the profile of your boat to give an indication of whether it will fit through the tunnel at Froghall. As you can see the hand rails were just rubbing along.
But the Skipper says they always allow extra room we shall give it a go. We cleared the roof, in preparation.  At the tunnel entrance it is obviously low, we approached very slowly, ready to manoeuvre through by hand. But the first couple of yards the brickwork is uneven and very worn from previous attempts and we soon had the hand rails rubbing on both sides.
Perhaps with a few more people on board at the front we would have made it. What a shame, and now we have a bit of paintwork to see to.
The other end of the tunnel is in a leafy glade leading to the Wharf and the Basin which is actually down the first lock of the Uttoxeter Canal. You can go no further.
It is a lovely quiet, peaceful spot, it would have been good to spend the night here.  Ah well, we had a walk round enjoying the lovely green hills and valley.
Following the line of the old tramway once used for transporting limestone down to the wharf, we walked up and up through the tree lined path.
It was cool and damp, the rocks alongside as we got higher were covered in mosses, lichen and ferns. It felt quite jungley (if that's a word!).

Once out in the open, the track still climbed through lovely meadows. At the top, the view was fantastic.
And here, standing proud in the middle of the field, a large rock, perhaps H will be able to tell us what sort of stone it is, maybe sandstone as the pathway up was very sandy!
We admired it but didn't try to climb.
Back again at the wharf and there is still this row of lime kilns. Coal and limestone brought down from the quarry along the tramway was loaded into the top of the kiln. As they burnt, the lime would run out at the bottom as quick lime. This was then carried away in the boats to the potteries, for use in decorating the china; to building industries, for use in plaster and mortar; to agricultural industry for use as soil improver.
The original wharf building are all still in place, some used at weekends as a museum, and a trip boat is moored ready for these occasions.
9 miles, 8 locks


  1. Sorry you had to abandon your attempt on Froghall Tunnel. We got through in 2005 after filling the bath and a plastic dustbin with water, then inching through by hand. On the way back we picked up passengers as ballast. You could always try again!

    1. Think perhaps we'll have to. You make our attempt sound a bit feeble!

  2. I'm 95% sure it's gritstone. It looks very much as though there are chalk marks on the surface, so I'd guess there are bouldering routes up it :)