We woke to the sound of raindrops on the roof which didn’t encourage us to rise early. We left Trentham after 9am, clad in full waterproof gear and headed for Stoke on Trent.
You can’t travel along this route without photographing one of the derelict bottle kilns left over from the pottery industry that sit beside the canal. Also whilst Stoke on Trent is a City, it doesn’t really feel like one as it has no actual heart and is made up of five towns; Burslem, Hanley, Fenton, Longton and Tunstall.
We climbed the five locks in Stoke and had to empty the first three before we met two boats coming towards us which meant they left the locks ready for us to move straight into.
The rain eventually stopped and we arrived at the entrance to the Harecastle Tunnel in time to see two boats coming towards us which suggested that we would be able to enter straight after. However the Tunnel Manager came to greet us and announced that our passage would have to be delayed for half an hour while he went off for his lunch. We moored up and enjoyed a sandwhich while we waited.
Half an hour later we were on our way. The tunnel is 2926 yards long and the passage through takes 45 minutes. The tunnel marks the summit of the Trent & Mersey Canal and the locks from hereon will take us downhill towards Middlewich.
We continued through another sixteen locks beyond Kidsgrove and after the first two of these locks we had to fill each lock before we could descend as we didn’t see another boat all afternoon. This was hard work as some of the paddle mechanisms were very stiff and the lock gates heavy.
We stopped at Hassall Green at 6pm having done 10.5 miles, 23 locks and 1 tunnel. About 30 miles and 23 locks still to do this week.