Friday, 26 July 2013

Waiouru fits the gauge

It was a lovely cruise from Cheddleton down to Froghall.  Waiouru especially loved the River Churnet section between Oakmeadow Ford Lock and Constall Forge.  With plenty of water underneath the baseplate she cut her way through the water on using fewer rev’s than the previous two days.

At Constall Forge there is a water point and 48 hour moorings.  There are also four old lime kilns adjacent to the moorings. 

These kilns started working in 1819 with coal and limestone being fed into the top with a fire in the base. When the burn was complete the resulting quick lime was dug out of the base and loaded into narrowboats for transport to Etruria.  In its heyday the Churnet Valley had thousands of people working on the extraction, manufacture and transportation of flint and quick lime.

At Consall Forge the route to Froghall reverts to a canal with the River Churnet going straight ahead over a weir and the canal deviating slightly left under a bridge and then It squeezes past Consall railway station.  One assumes the canal was there first and the subsequent construction of the railway encroached upon it.  This is a narrow section and one wouldn’t want to meet a boat coming in the opposite direction.

A steam train was operating and although we could hear it and see the occasional puff of smoke we never actually managed to see the locomotive.

At Flint Mill Lock there is a 70ft winding hole.  This is the last point where boats 65ft and longer can wind without going through Froghall Tunnel.  Immediately after the lower lock gates is a tunnel gauge.

Waiouru just fits under the gauge.  The handrails would be a tight fit.  We’d already filled the water tank in the bow.  The sat-dome on the roof won’t fit, but it’s removable.

We’d also near to clear the roof of all other removable items.

There are stretches of this last section to Froghall that are very narrow.  Basically a concrete edged culvert very similar to the ‘narrows’ at the top end of the Llangollen Canal.

Surprisingly, (for us) there were a number of long term moored boats on the ‘off-side’ just before the tunnel at Froghall.  The towpath moorings are only 24 hour before the tunnel but 48 hour in the basin on the other side.

We moored before the tunnel and walked forward to have a look.  Waiouru would fit if we removed everything off her roof and took it slowly.  Paul (Waterway Routes) had suggested Jan position herself in the cratch to act as additional ballast during the transit (Jan is waiting for her next meeting with Paul…. and she has a long memory!).  One of the locals looked at Waiouru and confirmed to us she would fit but that we’d probably lose some of the handrail paintwork on the way through.  In the end we decided it just wasn’t worth damaging the paintwork.  If we had an additional two people to assist with the transit we’d have given it a go.  But we chickened out erred on the side of caution and walked the towpath route to the basin.

There was only one boat in the basin…… A CRT workboat!

All the boater facilities are there and there’s also a lovely cottage.

Walking back to Waiouru we took a photo of the tunnel mouth from the far end.

For obvious reasons there is no gauge at this end.

Now we have completed all the Caldon Canal what are our thoughts.

  • The latter two thirds are very attractive with the Froghall branch more attractive than the Leek.
  • The top sections generally have reasonable water depth.
  • The lower portion is undergoing urban redevelopment and in a few years will probably look very attractive.
  • Something needs to be done about the restricted clearance through Froghall Tunnel.  Especially if the canal is restored back to Uttoxeter.
  • It’s well worth visiting

Now we must retrace our route back to Etruria.


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

and I remember what Jan asked me to do when we first met in the Tardebigge Flight ...

Tom and Jan said...

Must have been nice Paul otherwise you would have been "Told" what to do!

Alf said...

All that way & you FAILED to go through to the end, shame on you !!

Tom and Jan said...

I just KNEW you would be the one to comment on our FAILURE!