Stoke on Trent ( Westport Lake )

We set the alarm for this morning, a very early 8 am. Within 20 minutes of getting up we were underway, hoping we would not have a queue at the water point, by Hall Green stop lock. We were in luck, it was free, so we commenced filling our empty water tank and had breakfast while waiting. A number of boats passed us heading north, and approx. 40 minutes later we set off for the end of the Macclesfield Canal. At Hardings Wood Junction we turned right onto the Trent and Mersey, and headed the half mile or so to the northern portal of Harecastle Tunnel. Having travelled through here only a few weeks ago, we had cleared the roof of items that were too high, and were prepared at the back of the boat for the CRT horn and headlight check. There were two boats in the queue ahead of us, and a further two arrived shortly after. Boats were still heading north in the tunnel, so we had a short wait until they emerged. There is a bit of a turn as you exit, and a Black Prince hire boat did not make a very good job of it, striking the bank quite hard. Unfortunately for the steerer there was a large audience, which is usual when things go wrong. Once the second boat cleared the tunnel we were on our way. We had one objective in addition to the transit, and that was photograph the tunnel skeleton in his alcove.

       

Not the best photo in the world, but not bad in the pitch black, whilst moving, using an iPhone. For anyone reading this wanting to know where he lurks, travelling south he is 450 yards in on the port (left) side. After emerging into the daylight at the southern end, it was just a short hop to our intended spot at Westport Lake. We will only spend one night here, then tomorrow head for Barlaston.
Totals 4 Miles 1 Lock 1 Tunnel
Running total 329 Miles 191 Locks 14 Tunnels

Scholar Green

Having spent the past few days in Congleton, today we moved on. During our stay we have enjoyed several walks around the area, including a walk along the Biddulph Valley Way. This was a former railway used to carry freight between Biddulph and Congleton. It was dismantled c 1927, and now forms a scenic walk along the side of the valley between the two towns.

       

       

                                                               Biddulph Valley Way.

We also visited Congleton town centre with its impressive range of shops, and even more imposing town hall. We had lunch at a small Italian deli, and in the warm sunshine it had a Mediterranean feel to it.
       

                                                          Congleton High Street.

Sunday lunch had been taken at the Railway Inn close to the canal. We have eaten there a couple of times and the food was exceptional. They are also dog friendly, but this time four legs stayed on the boat.
We allowed the overnight rain to clear before setting off for Scholar Green shortly after breakfast. Just prior to our intended mooring spot we stopped at Heritage Narrowboats hirebase for services. After securing the boat and having lunch, we walked across the fields towards the hamlet of Moreton. We had several hundred cow pats to negotiate on our way, the furry crew member’s nose seemed to find most of them. The reason for our cross country trudge was to visit Little Moreton Hall. This is a 15th century half timbered house with moat, and given its top heavy construction it’s a wonder it is still standing after 500 years.
       

       

The property was unfortunately closed to the public today, but beyond the huge wooden front door, peering through the keyhole, we could see a glimpse of the courtyard within.
       

    

                                     

                                                          Looking through the keyhole.

We are now located less than two miles from the end of the Macclesfield Canal, and nicely positioned for our turn onto the Trent and Mersey canal and transit of Harecastle Tunnel tomorrow.
Totals 4 Miles
Running total 325 Miles 190 Locks 13 Tunnels