Wood Anemone The Churnet Valley - California Lock at Easter
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Easter 2006 was warm and almost dry so I decided to go exploring. Changes to the law have supposedly opened up parts of the valley under the right to roam legislation which took effect late in 2005. With this in mind, I set Key Wood and Morris's Bridge, on an abandoned loop of the Uttoxeter Canal between Froghall and Oakamoor, as my targets.


Click the images to enlarge.

I left the car at Froghall Wharf, where many spring flowers were in bloom, including this patch of white wood anemonies with spikes of pink butterbur pushing through it.

Leaving the wharf, I climbed up the steep slope of Froghall Great Plane towards Whiston. This was part of the 1804 Caldon Low plateway that carried limestone from the quarries down to the wharf.

The embankment of Whiston Plane, also part of the 1804 line, is now a feature of the golf course. From here, I walked along a quiet lane to Moneystone Quarry and the footpath leading to my objectives. This part of the trip was not photogenic.

Key Wood was a disappointment. There are signs warning that shooting is in progress (it wasn't) and the woods are close-planted and featureless. Nevertheless, I continued on to my next objective at Morris's Bridge.

Viewed from a distance, the bridge looks like it might be intact but when you get up close, you realise that it's a bit of a wreck. At some point, it has either fallen down or been flattened into this ramp shape.

Morris's or California Lock is a short distance up the old towing path towards Froghall. Beyond here, there was once a wharf area, linked by a tramroad to some of the coal mines up towards Cheadle.

This is the slot for one of the ground paddles which when raised and lowered controlled the flow of water in to or out of the lock chamber.

Further down the canal towards Oakamoor, this milepost stands forlornly with its nemesis the railway in the background.

And that was it. I retraced my steps to Whiston before picking up the line of the 1785 Caldon Low railway into Harston Wood.

This is crossed by the 1847 railway which I then followed.

Back to Froghall Wharf for a coffee from the corn warehouse.


That was the end of a respectable afternoon's walking. My first experience with "access land" was not great but there are other areas on the revised Ordnance Survey Explorer maps that look more promising. I can also say "been there and seen that" for California Lock and the milepost, both of which I somehow managed to miss when I visited the area before.