Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Four Counties Ring: 110 miles and 92 locks

We have made our way back to Rugeley and now that the necessary locks are open we will head to Great Haywood Junction and then start our tour of the Four Counties Ring.  If you are serious about it, you can do the ring in one to two weeks; but we are allowing four to six since we like to stop frequently and explore the towns and villages and the countryside we travel through.  (I'd promise it has nothing to do with my dislike of early mornings and the resulting loss of two to three traveling hours each day but I was taught not to lie. :)

As you can see from the above, we will be traveling on parts of four different canal systems.  The most "historic" is the Staffordshire and Worcestershire which was opened in 1772 and is one of the earliest canals to be completed. 

Most of the ring is open rural countryside but there are the industrial parts, such as up near Stoke on Trent where Royal Doulton and other famous china and pottery is made.  The industry here was closely linked with the development of the canals as a safer way of getting their fragile product to market than the rough and rugged road of the time. (We may have to stop there for some small amount of retail therapy. :)

North of Stoke on Trent we will be going through the Harecastle Tunnel which takes about 45 minutes to get through.  That should be quite an experience for someone who is claustrophobic.  I'll keep you posted.

We will also be cruising over a few aqueducts during our journey.  That is always a special feeling knowing you are up there above everyone in a "fake" river.

As you can see from above there are 92 locks for me to do during this journey.  From what I have read, the most that I will be doing at one time is a 15 lock flight at Audlem.  Yep, 15.  Can we say Brownie Points?

There's the Reader's Digest version.  Details to follow. :)


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