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Steam's up at Consall Forge

Caldon Canal

The Caldon Canal takes you from Stoke-on-Trent to picturesque Staffordshire and the Churnet Valley.

Caldon Canal

Length18 miles

Maximum boat dimensions

Length21.95m 72ft
Width2.03m 6ft 8"
Draught1.2m 3ft 11"
Headroom1.52m 5ft

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The canal was built to carry limestone for the iron industry and flints for the pottery industry. It is still steeped in history, with fascinating industrial buildings visible along the Stoke section. Further along, you may see a steam train chugging along where the Churnet Valley Railway passes close to the canal.

The outstanding scenery along the route means there is lots to see for boaters, walkers and cyclists. The unusually low Froghall Tunnel may be a challenge for boaters, but beyond it, you will be rewarded by arriving at the tranquil and secluded Froghall Wharf.

The Uttoxeter branch of the canal is derelict, but the first lock and basin at Froghall have been restored and re-opened in 2005. The Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust is a passionate local group, working to preserve and restore both waterways.

Days out along the Caldon Canal

The history

The Caldon Canal opened in 1779 to carry Peak District limestone, from the quarries at Cauldon Low, down to the Potteries and the industrial Midlands. A short branch was built 18 years later connceting the Caldon with the town of Leek. Another branch extended the navigation to Uttoxeter but this lasted only until 1845 when it was closed and replaced with a railway line.

Freight traffic deserted the Caldon shortly after the construction of a parallel railway line and the canal became virtually unnavigable by the 1960s. Enthusiasts were justifiably vocal in clamouring for its restoration and it was brought back into use in 1974.

The Uttoxeter Branch still lies derelict but work has recently started on rebuilding the very first lock. Similarly, the final mile of the Leek Branch is no longer navigable, but plans are now being hatched to restore navigation across a surviving aqueduct further towards the town.

The canal in Stoke hosted one of the last commercial narrowboat runs - albeit a rather unusual one! Narrowboats were used to transport pottery across the water, from one part of a factory to another. At the time, road transport was ruled out as too bumpy, likely to cause the pottery to break. The traffic finished in the 1990s.

photo of a location on the canals
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