Thursday, 23 April 2015

Disappointment at Stone but a glorious day after that!

We wanted to get an early start for the trip up to Stoke and anticipated that the trains would stop us sleeping in. Oops!  Despite a wake-up blast at 7.10 we somehow managed to go back to sleep till after 8.  Dave went off down to the chandlery while I zoomed off to town.  First disappointment – the hardware store at the bottom of the high street closed last November.  Still empty unfortunately.  Then I couldn’t find the butcher – a nail bar seemed to be there instead.  The chap in the greengrocer told me I’d missed him by only three weeks and had a minor rant, blaming it all on the high business rates.  The greengrocer is only a few doors down from the Conservative party office which has posters for Bill Cash all over the place.  Naturally, the candidates only seem to visit the local shops at election time!

Anyway, Dave was successful at the chandlery and we finally got away at about 11.  The bridge below Lime Kiln lock has towline rollers – they don’t seem to move though.  I wonder if they ever did?

1 towline roller top bridge at stone

Above the lock were several boats ready for the floating market tomorrow, many with bunting and flags.  This pussycat was enjoying the view.

2 pussycat in window

There were several traders on their way down, including Areandare (the brewing kit suppliers) who were moored between two of the Meaford locks.

4 areandare going down to floating market

We had an easy locking day today, with most of the locks in our favour or only a short wait while a boat came down.  The Meaford flight has split footbridges (for the towrope to pass through so the horse did not have to be unhitched).

3 slpit bridge meaford locks

We saw our first ducklings today.  By the time I had switched the camera on I had missed them, but managed to snap the second lot – 12 little bumblebees in this brood, though not all in the frame.

4 little bumblebees

No sign of the daddy mallard.  This swan was taking his parental responsibilities seriously though, menacing the Canada geese to keep them well away from his lady.

5 swan menacing goose  6 becasue of this

As we left the built-up area of Trentham there was a rash of banners and signs.  It looks as though there is a new estate threatening the peace of their meadow.

8 building protest 1  9 building protest 2

That meadow would seem to be this one, right next to their (fairly new?) estate ….

10 possible building site

You can see their reasoning though as it’s not far to the edge of Stoke from here and most villages don’t want to be swallowed up by the encroaching town.  We were amused by this bit of graffiti – it’s been their for years but is amusing at election time!

11 apposite at election time

We had a brief stop for lunch on the rings at Hem Heath Bridge then cracked on for Stoke.  There is a large repository of railway bogies as you approach Stoke -  hundreds lined up on rails but mostly hidden behind the foliage.

13 bogie repository

At Stoke bottom lock there was a chap taking his ease in a deckchair.  He was actually doing a census of towpath users!  or so he said ….

15 taking towpath census stoke bottom lock

There are a few bottle kilns still standing among the blocks of flats and general redevelopment.  On such a beautiful day it was hard to visualise what it must have been like when industry lined both sides of the canal.

16 bottle kilns surrounded by flats

The Stoke locks were mostly in our favour too, with a steady procession of boats descending.  We moored at Westport Lake soon after 5.  It was quite busy – lots of families enjoying the sun and most of the mooring rings in use!  We found a space though.

We’d forgotten that the dog would want to scavenge what the ducks and geese hadn’t eaten so she had her walk on the lead.  A beautiful warm evening and a lovely sunset.  Making the most of it before the weather changes!

11 miles, 11 locks

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