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Yes I saw the good weather approaching after religiously observing accuweather daily and tirelessly. So I booked a few nights at the Travelodge in Macclesfield and filled up the car and disappeared in a cloud of cloud. I started on the T&M at the Stoke Flight, a gap in my previous visits to the canal. And the weather? Well….it took until late afternoon before the skies cleared (much later than promised by BBC weather!). This is annoying as I like my photos to contain some blue sky as well as clouds and then the light warms and casts a lovely golden tint and glow to bring the landscape to life and make everyone feel full of les joies de vivre.

Never mind, I met a very friendly couple from the Bahamas – no I’m not jesting. They were over here on holiday and had borrowed a friend’s boat.  Bill and Leslie are US Americans but live on a fabulous island called Green Turtle Cay located in the “Abaco Out Islands”. They were ably assisted through the locks by an affable young man, Andrew, who lives locally and likes to assist boaters, very friendly!

Below are some photos taken while navigating the locks.

OD4A1981At the junction of the Caldon Canal and T&M I took my leave of these friendly people from afar and began to stroll up the Caldon. I didn’t get far before a trio aboard a narrowboat came to moor. We exchanged views on the weather and the local canals – what else as a starter? I then discovered that the chap under the trilby below was  canal author Andy Wood, author of “Britannia Rules the Cut” – which investigates and explains how and why a fleet of two destroyers, a frigate and a submarine under the White Ensign came onto the canal network in the 1970s. He is currently working on another book entitled “The Boat to End All Boats”. His two friendly companions escaped without giving their names but are captured in the photo above.

The next day I went further along the Caldon. At Hazelhurst Locks, the junction of the Leek Branch with the main canal, I met a couple moored in the middle of the most fantastic scenery. Here, the main canal carries straight on and descends locks 10,11 and 12 while the  Leek Branch veers off slightly to the east for 1/2 mile before turning north and passing over the main canal – an area of outstanding rural beauty! At the start of the Leek Branch I came across Carol and Tom. They have a house nearby and also moor their boat not far west of here. However, they spend good weather days at this point overlooking rolling hills and farmland stretching as far as the eye can see. From this viewpoint they can also look down onto Lock 11 of the main canal and hence watch the world go by, or at least a very small subset of it (the Caldon is pretty quiet). Their boat “Andicy” is constructed from the names of their offspring Andrew, Diane and Tracy. Tom says it was painted by his cousin who professes to be an artist but then goes on to say “He’s a bigger liar than me!”  Below are photos of the view to Lock 11 and of Carol and Tom admiring the view to the west toward the junction.

Next up to the end of the canal Froghall Basin. This is entered through Lock 1 after passing through Froghall Tunnel which has very little headroom. So many boaters stop short at the start of the tunnel, which is a pity because the basin is in a very pretty setting. Here I had a chat with two jolly CRT men repairing Lock 1 with two others working (or hiding from me?) nearby. They described the area and gave me some pointers on what to visit. I persuaded them to pose for the camera as you can see below together with a view across the basin to Lock 1.

Two days later I was returning home to Birmingham following the Shroppie from Audlem. What a splendid canalside place this is with the Shroppie Fly pub and the Audlem Mill selling all things canal and also providing training courses in needlecraft. Outside the Shroppie Fly is Lock 13 and hence a gift to gongoozlers!

At Bottom Lock 1 of the Adderley Locks I met Barry and Mary from Much Wenlock in west Shropshire, in their boat Flying Pig so named because owning their own boat had at one time seemed as likely as pigs flying. When I approached, Barry was at the tiller singing a jolly tune and Mary was heaving at the lock paddles and gates. As they sailed away from me on exiting bottom Top Lock 5 Barry was still singing. They were obviously enjoying cruising on the sunny weather as you can see below.