You wouldn’t really expect a canal that begins in Stoke-on-Trent to be among the most beautiful in the land, but the Caldon rises manfully to the challenge. In reality it effects its escape from the Potteries (where it joins the Trent & Mersey) remarkably quickly and thereafter revels in glorious moorland scenery all the way to its twin termini at Froghall and Leek.
Hazelhurst Junction is an exceptionally pretty canal junction, a divine location deep in the Staffordshire Moorlands enhanced by the attendant lock flight and aqueduct. Here the Leek Branch heads off towards the town which revels under the name ‘Queen of the Moorlands’ but unfortunately the present day terminus lies several hundred yards short, necessitating completion of the journey on foot. It’s well worth the walk though.
The main line continues through the Churnet Valley, traversing increasingly wild and gorgeous countryside, the wooded slopes hereabouts being of almost Amazonian density. Beyond Cheddleton and Consall Forge (linked by a preserved steam railway), the canal eventually terminates at Froghall Wharf, where you can enjoy an ice cream or cup of tea. Why not bring a picnic and stay for the day?
Froghall has been the scene of feverish activity in recent times, as work has been undertaken to restore the top basin and first lock of the linking Uttoxeter Canal, while studies show that restoration all the way through to the Staffordshire town famous for its racecourse is a viable proposition. We can’t wait to make the trip!