After yesterday's unpleasant traffic I wanted to do my best today to avoid busy roads. A canal looked good for the second half of the day, but going from Crewe towards Stoke was a bit more tricky. I managed to work out a route that took me through the village of Haslington, Crewe Golf Club's course, footpaths though various fields and some quiet country lanes. Dodging mud, cow-pats and stinging nettles slowed me down a bit, but I'd pick the cows over the cars any day.
After going under the M6, which I've seen many times since Carlisle, I went through Alsager. On my way into town I saw The Biddle Barbers and decided to go in for a trim. A little while later I left with a free haircut and a generous donation for MacMillan. My opinion of the human race is getting higher and higher every day thanks to gestures like this.
Soon after Alsager I was able join the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal. It must have been very busy in it's day as all the locks are doubled. After a while I came to the very long (2,926 yards) Harecastle Tunnel. Pedestrians can't walk through so I needed to go another way. Without being asked the Tunnel Keeper kindly came over and gave me a sheet giving directions to the other side for walkers. It was quite a pleasant diversion going through peaceful Bathpool Park.
When the canal came into the Hanley district of Stoke I left it for a while to visit the city's big Milk & More depot. I met manager Degsy, his assistant Dave and various other staff. I didn't want to stay overnight in Stoke, preferring to use the afternoon to get more miles covered, but Degsy still went to the trouble of arranging accommodation in Stone, my intended destination. He also gave me enough money to buy enough food to last at least a day.
After leaving the depot the canal towpath took me through the busy urban areas of Stoke-on-Trent. I saw lots of industrial areas, some easier on the eye than others, also the Britannia Stadium. I stopped for a rest when I reached Barlaston. After there the towpath turned to grass, it had been paved all through Stoke. My feet like grass a lot at this stage of the walk, but unfortunately this section turned out to be a bit of a quagmire after all the recent rain.
Stone is a very pleasant town. Degsy happens to live locally and joined me for an evening drink. I was also delighted to get a surprise visit from my friend Alan. Today had been very pleasing, the mileage seemed quite easy and I'd avoided roads for the most part, I'd met some great people and my blister fears are easing. I've arrived in the Midlands now after leaving the North West. Tomorrow I plan to visit the Milk & More depot at Burntwood before making good progress towards Fridays target West Bromwich.
GPS data click here
Mileage today; 25.44 miles, walking time 6 hrs 33 mins, average walking speed 3.9 mph
Weather; bright early, then windy and showers, max 18C
Cumulative mileage; 589.09 miles
|A double lock on the Trent & Mersey canal|
|One of my walking partners this morning|
|The entrance to Harecastle tunnel, nearly 2 miles long|