A lateish start (10am) and a definitely late finish (8pm). Did the run up & through Stoke; I had planned to stop once on the Caldon (and through my first ever staircase locks) for a wander around Hanley, but found nowhere good to stop - well, I did, but the towpath was closed for reconstruction, so I wouldn't have been able to get out if I had...
On the way into Stoke I spotted a boatyard that wasn't shy about diversification:
'Tacle [sic] & Bait Air Guns Boats & Engines Country & Western Line Dancing'
The Caldon winds out of the Stoke area - another shallow, slow canal, but lots of corners you have no idea what's around... hero had been one lock ahead of me on the way up to Etruria & the first few locks, but they waved me past later, struggling with draft. Not only is it shallow anyway, but appears to be low anyway - one pound between locks was very low, I filled it a few inches after leaving the lock and grounding as I pulled in to do the next one.
I'd been warned about the lift bridges - one walking couple offered to do one for me, but the next was down to me. They're hydraulic ones operated with a windlass, so not counterbalanced well enough to be lifted by heand and held up with a pole. Instead I took the boat close, crossed & lifted, and pulled the boat past by hand. Worked on this one, but may not always.
Tomorrow - up to Leek (somewhere that has to be visited, not least from childhood railway reading about the Leek & Manifold Railway), then back down towards Froghall, the end of the canal. There's some respectable contour lines on the map, I'm looking forward to them a lot.
Premier Inn and Premier Couple - Yesterday morning we were at the Premier inn at Walsall, right by the canal basin. Adrian had stayed there overnight, having been at a conference in Liver...
10 hours ago