This morning we left in bright sunshine and headed through Longport passed the Dalton Outlet Shop and Middleport Pottery with its visitor mooring and café. A little further on is one of the few remaining Pot Banks.
We then reached the open expanse of Westport Park Lake with its excellent visitor moorings alongside. We had planned to moor here last night but with the inclement weather decided to stop near Etruia.
Turning the corner and travelling down a mile long straight brought us to the southern entrance to the 2926yd Harecastle Tunnel. We had to wait a short while for two boats to come through from the north and were then off in a convoy of 4 boats. It was a treat inside the tunnel warm with no more of that cold northerly wind to contend with and no rain just the very occasional drip from the roof. We made good progress and exited the tunnel 30 minutes later to a queue of 6 boats waiting to go through. The tunnel had a new profile gauge fitted yesterday at both ends but the one at the southern end is set too low and we only just missed catching it although there was plenty of clearance at the north end so they will need to adjust it or risk stopping boats going through which would have no problem navigating the tunnel.
Before entering the tunnel there is the compulsory safety briefing from the tunnel keeper and checking your light and horn work. Notices show the opening and last passage times. Rob the Lock was waiting for us at the tunnel and joined us for a cup of coffee whilst we waited. He was then off to meet us the other side and had the locks ready for us to start going down.
Some of the locks still have the rollers on the entrance to protect the brickwork from the tow ropes.
Between the sets of locks is this seat and garden of remembrance to Michael Sutton who died in 2011 aged 19.
The weather began to look a bit uncertain and we were undecided as to whether to stop just below Red Bull Services but decided to carry and do the next three locks and moor above Church Lock. Just after we moored the rain and wind came.
After lunch June made some scones and G & C came in for Tea and Scones. When the rain had cleared away I walked back up the canal to the Tesco store in Kidsgrove. I returned along the road and noticed that there is a bus from the canal bridge which would have taken me there or into Hanley and which appeared to run every 20 minutes although I did not see one on the walk.