Monday, 22 February 2016

Kidsgrove (orange water but on target)

Our first proper picture of a canal over a canal and we're in it!

Sunday’s task was to get to Harecastle tunnel in Kidsgrove.  We’re meant to give 48 hours notice to get passage but as we only found out late on Friday about Karen’s contract we’re winging it and will wait outside the entrance first thing Monday.  Unfortunately the tunnel is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the winter months so our schedule will go to pot if we can’t get through on Monday.

We planned on climbing the remaining 14 locks of Heartbreak Hill into Kidsgrove, have lunch and do a supermarket shop.  Karen prepared a mushroom cobbler for the slow cooker and we set off.  On the way we passed a canal maintenance yard with stacks of stanking planks.

Stanking plank and lock gate stores
The water on this part of the canal is heavily coloured from the ores in the local hills as can be seen in this picture of a twirly thing.  We assume the twirly thing was to prevent ropes wearing on the lock sides in the horse drawn boat days.

A twirly thing and orange water
As mentioned before the locks on Heartbreak Hill were doubled up soon after the canal was first opened because of the volume of traffic.  This picture clearly shows the addition as the left hand lock tail bridge has a bricked arch and the other one has an arch of stone.
Right hand bridge has a stone arch; left hand bridge has a brick one
 Some of the locks have become unusable and are now falling into disrepair.
One of the disused locks on Heartbreak Hill
Stanking planks are in evidence at this disused lock to keep the water at bay…

Stanking planks in use!
…and talking of stanking planks here is a brand new store.  Not particularly attractive but I suppose it’s sturdy and will withstand the weather.

Modern day stanking plank store
The original line of the canal used to go off to the right here down some staircase locks.  These became a bottle neck so ordinary locks were put in on the left hand side.  We had met a delightful old man who lives locally and likes to sit by the locks; he was really keen on telling us all about the history of the canal.

Line of canal used to go round to the right down staircase locks
Near the top we went under the Macclesfield canal and managed to get a picture of a canal above a canal – something we have always wanted to do.

As it was we stopped before the 14th lock as it was a bit dismal between the last lock and the tunnel.  Buddy and I had a walk along just to check and even he was hanging back as if he didn’t really want to go there.  The main thing is that we ended the day still on target for getting to Tamworth by Friday.

Harecastle tunnel entrance on the left - original entrance can be seen on the right
Here are the 13 locks we went up today.


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