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Trent and Mersey Canal - Part 3
Harecastle Tunnel to Kings Lock
One of the engineering masterpieces of their time is the Harecastle Tunnel, only the western one built in the 1820’s by Thomas Telford, is open to traffic. The tunnel cuts straight through the Ravenscliffe for around 2900 Meters. The journey takes around 45 minutes and is cold with lots of precipitation. Although it has no towpath today, it did have originally but was removed for safety reasons by British Waterways.
Another tunnel, built in the 1770’s by James Brindley, the entrance of which can still be seen to the east, suffered from serious subsidence and was abandoned in the early 1900’s. The canal water here becomes a distinctive ‘strong tea’ colour due to the iron deposits in the water. The Harecastle Tunnel operates a controlled entry and exit system with alternate one way traffic. You will exit the tunnel at Kidsgrove.
During the winter months there is restricted passage, usually requiring the booking of a passage 48hrs in advance by telephoning 01782 785703
At Hardings Wood Junction the Macclesfield Canal branches off to the West (left) even though the general direction is North East (to the right). This is because it crosses over the Trent and Mersey Canal on a hefty aqueduct! The canal from here has double locks, not all of them operational and some with one filled in. This just goes to show the volume of traffic there was on this section of the Trent and Mersey Canal in times gone by!
Passing the Red Bull pub and British Waterways facilities and on towards Lawton Church, a boaters church. Hassal Green is the next point of reference with its canalside pub, Post Office, shop and Tea Rooms. The busy M6 is visible (and audible) from here. There are a hectic flight of four (paired) locks at Malkins Bank by the time you have passed through them you have done eight from Hassal Green and are ready for a long drink in the beer garden at the pub close to the bottom lock.
Passing by the village of Wheelock and entering Elworth (Sandbach Railway Station) the canal water here takes on a dark oily appearance and has a certain aroma (greatly improved in spring 2010) that doesn't make you want to hang around! There are now a couple of lock free miles through open countryside until you start to run along side the busy A533 from the chemical works (with another pong!) and the Saxa salt works (the main building shown in the photo right was demolished in 2010) into Middlewich at Kings Lock where we join the Middlewich Arm of the Shropshire Union Canal to continue on the Four Counties Ring. Carry straight on for the T&M to Preston Brook.
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