In a past life, the navigator had reason to make visits to a factory in Kidsgrove, and had no desire to repeat the experience – too many memories of standing in a corridor or squatting on the floor on the train – shades of Jeremy Corbyn – all the way home to Euston or Watford Junction. But with the Macclesfield Canal joining the Trent & Mersey Canal at Kidsgrove, another visit was impossible to avoid.
Climbing up Heartbreak Hill on the Trent and Mersey one is heading broadly South East; at Kidsgrove the Macclesfield Canal heads off in a North Easterly direction so one might expect to turn Left. But nothing’s that simple. You have to go through Kidsgrove twice. Coming up from the pleasant moorings at Church Lawton on the Monday morning, we were soon locking up the Red Bull Flight (nothing to do with a caffeinated fizzy drink) and passing under Poole Aqueduct, which carries the Macclesfield Canal over the top of the Trent & Mersey.
After half a mile or so there’s yet another lock, and the junction with the Macclesfield Canal heads off to the right, not the left. Then, quickly making yet another right turn, you head back for half a mile through Kidsgrove with the T&M a few yards on your right, and about twenty feet below, before another tight right turn takes you over Poole Aqueduct, and you can see where you were about an hour beforehand. So you’ve done two locks and all four sides of long thin rectangle, instead of just turning left and climbing onto the Macc from there. The only saving grace is that it’s all pretty heavily wooded, and you don’t actually see much of the delights of Kidsgrove.
Actually, it’s not that simple – canal builders politics. You’re not technically on the Macclesfield Canal yet, you’re on the Hall Green Arm of the Trent and Mersey.
After a short trip through some pleasant country with great views of Mow Cop, you finally arrive at Hall Green Lock.
Here is the real junction between the Macc and the T&M: a stop lock to prevent any possibility of water accidentally moving from one canal to another. It looks like there used to be two stop locks for the paranoid, or maybe the other area was for gauging the weight of the boats’ cargo. And two lockkeeper’s cottages (one for each canal authority). Hey ho. Still, it’s a nice atmospheric spot on a sunny afternoon.
A further short cruise brought us to some lovely rural visitor moorings near Ramsdell Hall. For National Trust groupies, we were also just a short walk from the iconic Little Moreton Hall. Time to chill out…