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The Caldon Canal - A Canal Boat Holidays information article.

Marina(s) : Anderton

Length: 18 miles and the Leek branch, 2 miles.

Locks: 17

Tunnels: 1

Aqueduct: 1

Linked to: Trent and Mersey Canal

HISTORY

The Caldon Canal was constructed between Etruria and Froghall in 1776 at a cost of £23,560. It was originally built to carry the limestone from the quarries at Cauldon Low to Stoke on Trent.

The acclaimed canal engineer James Brindley died of a chill whilst completing his survey of the canal and, sadly, never saw it's completion. The Caldon Canal meanders its way through some wonderful Staffordshire countryside known as Little Switzerland so called because of the rolling green hills, woods and meadowland.

Things of interest on route

The Etruria Industrial Museum is the last steam-powered potters' mill in Britain and is 'in steam' several times throughout the year. This is when the 1903 boiler is fired and historic machinery can be seen working. Situated at the junction of the Trent Mersey the museum is also a perfect place for boaters to moor for a while.

Hazelhurst Aqueduct is situated at Hazelhurst Junction on the Caldon Canal where the canal divides the main line descending through three locks to join the River Churnet. From here the Leek Branch continues along the contour to cross the main line on the single-arched Hazelhurst Aqueduct.

Froghall Wharf is just a few miles north of Cheadle and canal boaters can enjoy this tranquil treasure, tucked away from the busy streets and surrounded by trees and flowers. Picnic tables make Froghall Wharf a perfect stop-off point.

The Froghall Tunnel is unusually low and may be a challenge for boaters, although the tunnel is only 76 yards long it has very limited headroom.

You may be lucky enough to see one of the steam trains chugging along where the Churnet Valley Railway passes close to the canal. The Churnet Valley Railway takes you on a journey back to the classic days of railway travel on a rural line that passes through beautiful countryside known as Staffordshire's "Little Switzerland". The pretty stations on route offer lots of interest with a complete range of visitor facilities.

Bridge number 53 has the unusual name of Cherry Eye Bridge and has a unique and distinctive arch which reflected the taste of a local landowner. Apparently, the bridge is named after a condition of ironstone miners' eyes from rubbing them with ore-stained hands.

Cheddleton Flint Mill consists of a complex of buildings including two separate water mills, a miller's cottage, two flint kilns, a drying kiln and outbuildings. The whole complex is considered of great historical importance and has been given Grade II listed building status by English Heritage.

A visit to the mill will give you an understanding of the whole process from the arrival by canal boat, through the calcining, grinding, settling and drying processes.

Stoke-on-Trent, the City fondly known as The Potteries boasts visitor centres, world class ceramic museums including the Wedgwood Museum. Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Spode, Portmeirion and Moorcroft are some of the factory shops that sell a vast range of items. There are the many restaurants, pubs and bars in Stoke-on-Trent giving the visitor a fantastic choice of places to eat to suit all tastes and budgets. Make sure you taste the local delicacy, Staffordshire Oatcakes which are delicious served hot with various fillings.

The traditional market town of Leek offers a good range of high street and independent shops and most facilities associated with a good size centre. Leek has a great variety of restaurants, takeaways, tearooms and cafes. Although the branch ends a distance from Leek town centre you could still take a trip to visit the town

Only a short taxi ride away and well worth a visit, for kids of all ages, is the fantastic theme park of Alton Towers, which is situated in the village of Alton, near the end of the Caldon Canal. Alton Towers has everything from white knuckle rides, roller coasters to cable car rides over the countryside. The park is also the home of a water park called Splash Landings.

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