Wednesday 18 October 2017

Forks in the road

Continuing up the Caldon canal, we came to another of those landmarks that draw your hand irresistibly towards the camera.

Apparently (according to Waterways World) the island used to be the pivot point of a swing bridge carrying a light railway over the canal. I expect anyone who's ever come this way has gone home with a photo or two. The one above was taken looking back, the one below was what we saw as we approached.

Just through the bridge is a basin which used to serve the lime-barge industry, but which now houses the Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club. To stay on the main line of the canal you have to turn sharp right.

The other place at which this waterway forks is at Denford, where the Froghall branch carries straight on down three locks, while the Leek branch turns right along a lock-free pound, shortly passing over the lower branch, by now far below.

You can't go anywhere fast on the Caldon. In the first place, it's far too shallow and, in the second place, even if it wasn't, the canal deserves a dawdle. So we've come slowly to Leek and visited Morrisons for some Staffordshire oatcakes – possibly the longest journey specifically for such oatcakes ever undertaken by humankind. Well, we did buy one or two other things while we were at it (in fact, quite a lot).

Tonight we stay here. Tomorrow we retrace our steps to the junction and go down the three locks of the Froghall branch. After that it all gets a bit complicated – down that branch a bit and back on Friday with family. Back to Leek on Saturday. More family doings on Sunday. I'm tempted to leave an Ariadne thread as we move about to make sure that we don't lose track of where we are and can finally escape the Caldon labyrinth. Except that I expect it would get wrapped around the prop.


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