Consall (twice) and Froghall

The last time we explored the Caldon we made it as far as Consall Forge and turned back in - we couldn't face going on to Froghall in heavy rain. This time the weather was much better but, as Maggie reminded me, it wasn't the predicted glorious Indian Summer.

We left the Hollybush Inn on Friday morning and made our way to Cheddleton. The weather was at its brightest and as the day progressed it got progressively cloudier. We were followed down the locks by NB Blue Roan who carried as their home registration "Wansford in England" - a familiar reference for those who know the River Nene. 

After the industrial archaeology of Cheddleton we reached the river section where the canal joins the River Churnet. Good to get a good depth of water under the keel.

River Churnet joining the Caldon after Oak Meadow Ford Lock

We got to limekilns at Consall and the famous Black Lion pub, which is not accessible by road and requires customers to walk across a railway line - the Churnet Valley Line. The canal gets progressively more tortuous and narrow after Consall and in places one is reminded of Llangollen, particularly where there are concrete-lined sections.

Another delivery across the railway tracks at the Black Lion, Consall

The overhanging platform at Consall makes for difficult navigation

At Flint Mill lock we met the last 70ft winding hole and passed through the air draft gauge that indicates if boats can safely transit Froghall Tunnel. It basically a 5ft by 5ft square. I presume it is placed after the lock (and final 70ft winding hole) because it needs to reflect the water levels in the tunnel pound - placed above the winding hole it might not indicate the air draft accurately.

Albert didn't quite make it without touching the gauge so we decided that the 65ft winding hole (quoted as 60ft in the Pearson's Guides) just before the tunnel would be our terminus. We made the turn with no problem (so I presume 65ft is correct) and had a lunch break. NB Blue Roan arrived shortly afterwards and also moored up after winding.

Passing through the gauge for Froghall Tunnel at Flint Mill Lock, Caldon Canal
(Not quite enough room to pass through with confidence)

In the afternoon we walked around the tunnel and explored the end of the canal and the newly restored basin at the first lock on the Uttoxter Canal. It was renovated in 2003. I have to admit that although the area beyond the tunnel was interesting, particularly from the industrial archaeology point of view, because the visitors centre was closed and there was no boating activity, I felt a little disappointed. There is so much that more that could be done at Froghall Wharf to interest boaters and the public in general. The famed butty Vienna that is mentioned in many guides and featured in many photographs is no longer moored at the wharf. It would have at least provided some boating colour.

Tight corners near Froghall

Froghall Tunnel northern portal complete with standard (inappropriate) CRT signage

One of the curious (silly) features of the signage for Froghall Tunnel is that despite being only 68m long boats are advised to remain 250m apart in the tunnel. I wonder how? 

More Froghall Tunnel signage

Froghall Wharf

Basin on the Uttoxeter Canal
(One solitary boat that got through the tunnel)

We returned to Consall and moored up for the night directly outside the Black Lion. The crew of NB Blue Roan kindly booked us in for dinner since it was Friday night. We enjoyed a convivial evening of curry, cider, real ale and fish and chips (not each I hasten to add) with the crew of Blue Roan (Alistair and Sue).
Outside the Black Lion