From Hazelhurst Locks to Froghall and back is 2 x 12 km = 24 km.Double locks at Cheddleton (portage 100 meters), further 3 more locks, tunnel of 70 meters. After periods of heavy rainfall the River Churnet section may become difficult to navigate.
From Hazelhurst Locks to the end of the Leek Branch and back is 2 x 4,6 km = 9,2 km.(no portages, tunnel of 119 meters)
HistoryThe Caldon Canal is a branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal with a length of 27 km from Etruria Junction at Stoke on Trent to Froghall. It was opened in 1779 and it was built to carry minerals from the uplands of the Peak District to the Potteries. In 1811 the canal was extended by 20 km. from Froghall to Uttoxeter. The mile-markers along the canal measure the distance to Uttoxeter. But in 1845 the extention was replaced by a railway, much of which used the canal bed as its track. In 1817 the Leek Arm was built mainly to enable transport of coal to the town Leek. Another reason was the possibility to feed the canal with water from Rudyard Lake that had the function of a reservoir. Declain began after the first world war and in 1961 the canal was officially closed. Although no longer navigatable, the canal remained in use as a water feeder to the Trent and Mersey Canal. In 1974 volunteers restored the canal to enable navigation. In 1983 restoration was completed.
Starting Point at The Holly Bush Inn at bridge 38 of the Caldon Canal (bridge 4 of the Leek Branch)The Holly Bush Inn is a characteristic 17th century inn and restaurant with a large parking place. You must ask permission to leave your car here for the rest of the day, but to me they said it was okay. For a trip to Froghall you start at bridge 38. It is worthwhile to paddle a short way in the other direction to have a look at the impressive aqueduct that leads the Leek branch across the Caldon Canal. You go south and at the Cheddleton Locks (2) there is a portage of 100 meters. Here you find the pub Red Lion along the canal. Most narrowboats don't go beyond Cheddleton, so after these locks you enter a really quiet part of the canal. After bridge 48 you come at the River Churnet. The water is a lot wider and there may be some current. Signs warn for dangerous navigation after heavy rainfall. But these signs are meant for narrowboats, that are slow and difficult to steer. When you're on the river it is hard to imagine this once was a major commercial route. Nature has taken over and you get the feeling you're far away in the wilderness. At Consall Forge the river disappears across a weir leaving you on a calm and very narrow canal. At the railroad bridge there is a pub Black Lion with a great view on both the canal and the railroad. Occasionally a steam train passes by. The canal continues with a very narrow stretch along Consall Forge railway station. Then after some distance you see an industrial site on you right indicating your apporach to Froghall. You pass through a low tunnel before you arrive at Froghall. There is a nice park. For a trip to the end of the Leek Branch (just outside Leek) you start at bridge 4. As an alternative you can start at Park Lane Bridge (31) near Endon Bank, but there's room for only 2 cars to park at the bridge. If you start here, head east and just before Hazelhurst Locks you turn right. After a short distance you go across the Hazelhurst Aqueduct. There are no locks, just a tunnel of 195 meters near the end of the canal. The canal ends in a park at an aqueduct across the River Churnet. An industrial site separates the canal to the town Leek. The feeder is too shallow for kayaks. A walk to Rudyard Lake is about 5 km.
Rudyard LakeIt is possible to take your kayak on Rudyard Lake. At the entrance there is payed parking, and you have to buy a permit for the day at the warden. There are toilets and changing rooms. No swimming allowed. The lake is very beautiful and worth a visit. From north to south it is about 3 km long. The lake became well-known after the 2006 Top Gear episode with amphibious cars.
GPS Hazelhurst Locks: Lat. 53.0806 Lon. -2.0750
GPS brug 38: Lat. 53.3460 Lon. -2.0842
GPS Froghall: Lat. 53.0263 Lon. -2.9619
Hazelhurst Aqueduct. The Caldon Canal runs under the Leek Branch.
After the Oakmeadowford Lock the Caldon Canal joins the River Churnet.
Along the railway station Consall Forge.
Leek Tunnel at the Leek Branch.
Rudyard Lake (Top Gear Lake).
Rudyard Lake: boathouse "Lady of the Lake".