A trip down memory lane

Published: 04:26PM Jan 26th, 2012

Harry Arnold takes to the towpath for a New Year expedition

A trip down memory lane

Boxing Day walkers on the towpath of the Leek Arm above watch Jo, Nigel and Alfred Taylor pass through Hazelhurst Aqueduct board their traditional ex. Grand Union narrowboat which is in the process of being restored as Willow Wren”s Widgeon. PHOTOS: WATERWAY IMAGES

UNSEASONALLY fine weather, combined with virtually a week’s holiday for some, brought out many more towpath walkers and quite a number of boaters over this Christmas and New Year holiday.
The Trent & Mersey through our village of Alrewas often had almost a continuous queue of towpath trampers, so the Arnold family, including dog, decamped to our daughter’s home waterway – the Caldon Canal – this New Year.

One of the most attractive canal walks close to her house is a figure-of-eight route around Denford, with the historic ‘waterway fly-over’ of Hazelhurst Aqueduct at the centre of it and the adjacent Holly Bush Inn conveniently placed to provide welcome sustenance, including real ales and food, for the possibly weary walker and passing boater.

We chose to climb the steps up on to the aqueduct and first head along the Leek Branch in the Hazelhurst Junction and Stoke-on-Trent direction which gives a tremendous view of the three-lock flight down below you and on across the valley.

Nostalgic for me, as this was one of my first views of this canal on May 19, 1963 while engaged in the photographic part of an engineering survey for the original Caldon Canal Committee, which fortunately made some small contribution to the eventual restoration and reopening. The locks below were dry and disused then of course.


At Hazelhurst Junction, with its elegant cast iron bridge, we turned and strolled back down the lock flight – meeting a number of other families and their dogs – to climb back up on to the aqueduct again and head for Bridge 4 on the Leek Branch which takes the lane downhill and back to the pub.  On the way, another small aqueduct crosses what has been for years a closed railway line.

As we are all railway enthusiasts as well, it was great to see this section of track already cleared as part of the Moorland & City Railway project. The scheme has already reopened the section from the junction with the popular Churnet Valley Steam Railway at Leekbrook to the quarries at Cauldon Lowe and is now progressing along the length into Stoke-on-Trent and a link with the West Coast main line. The aim is to run both freight from the quarries and passenger commuter trains and we are all looking forward to the test runs; hopefully later this year.

Back at The Holly Bush, we just got the drinks in before the place started to heave.  If you do this walk, be warned, it is a very popular pub.  You may wonder what the range of massive silver cups are for (a bit more elaborate than the usually darts competition trophies) this country pub is internationally famous for its Tug-of-War team.  Waterway enthusiasts might also spot the secretary of the Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club and her family in there too, as it is her local.

Responses to “A trip down memory lane”

Current Issue: December 2015

Issue December 2015

Winter works

Breaking new ground on protecting the waterways

Licence fees pegged

Parliamentarian of the Year

Embankment repairs


Buy this issue now

• Next issue on sale: Thursday, December 24

Issue 122

Issue 122
December 2015

The UK's Number One read for all waterways users

Subscribe and get this issue

Buy it now facebook Read on-line

Do you intend to carry on cruising during the winter

Depends on the weather or stoppages

View results without voting

Other Feature Articles

Winter is best but what about the leaves?

Winter is best but what about the leaves?

FOR some it is the time of the year to drain down the water system, check the coolant for antifreeze ...

Read More »

How to winterise your narrowboat

WITH winters getting colder and sub-zero temperatures becoming more common, River Canal Rescue has put together some tips on how ...

Read More »

View all...


Related magazines:

Heritage Commercials magazine The Railway magazine Aviation Classics

Follow towpathtalk on Twitter

Advertising Deadline:

January issue: Wednesday, December 9 February issue: Wednesday, January 13

Book advertising here

Next Issue Out:

Thursday, December 24