Trustee John Dodwell shares his experience of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the restoration of the Caldon Canal and a scenic trip on the Froghall Arm.
Today was why we had gone to Cheddleton- to join in the 40th anniversary celebrations of the restoration of the Caldon Canal -especially the Froghall Arm - in 1974. Then I had been representing IWA (I'd just stepped down from being their General Secretary). Today I was here as a CRT trustee and as one of the speakers.
Having talked about the restoration 40 years ago, I turned to the future - the restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal (not owned by CRT) and the part the local authorities can play again, including accessing central government money. You can read my full speech online. Richard Parry was there too - goodness, he gets around! - and also spoke.
Then we looked at the flint mill - the water wheel was turning - and looked at the stands, including those from CRT. One was manned by Darren Green, the waterways manager for the area.
We left about 4.30 for a short run south and found a good mooring on the River section below Oakmeadowford Lock, amidst the sounds of late evening steam trains and pheasants calling to each other as they prepared to roost for the night.
A lazy day as we went down to Froghall. What a wonderfully scenic canal this is! The Churnet valley closes in and the sides get steeper and the trees are marvellous. On some canals - e.g. the upper Peak Forest - you look down over the trees as the canal is so far up the valley side but here you look up into the canopies as the canal is in the valley bottom.
The guide books talk of industry past but nature has reclaimed it all -except for the copper works in Froghall, itself now closed. No sign of agriculture either as the valley sides are too steep. This section and the Leek Arm are two of the reasons the Caldon is deservedly called one of the most beautiful.
We saw signs of dredging in the pound approaching Froghall with the dredgings either put securely on the offside or on the towpath side as part of a towpath improvement plan.
The entrance to Froghall Tunnel ( which is on a bend) was badly ibscured by offside trees - not readily apparent from a towpath view so that went into my notebook for my report to the waterways manager.
We cleared the roof of chimneys and water cans and crept through the Tunnel with a few inches to spare and then locked down through Uttoxeter Canal lock 1 into the Basin and stayed there for the night.
John Dodwell is one of our 10 volunteer trustees, who carry responsibility for the charity’s policies and strategies. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!See more blogs from John Dodwell