Wood Anemone The Churnet Valley - Say 'No' To Christmas Shopping
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December 2006 and Christmas is on its way. Time to trail round the shops 'til your ready to strangle Noddy Holder and anyone else who ever released a Christmas record. But then the second-last Saturday before Christmas turned out fine and I thought 'Sod it, I'm off'.

Click the images to enlarge.

I left the car at Froghall Wharf, which was bathed in low winter sunshine. Despite the number of boats in the basin, not all boats can get this far because Froghall Tunnel is too low.

If the canal is ever to be restored to Uttoxeter and even extended to Burton upon Trent, they'll have to do something about this first. The plastic strips hanging down are a guide for boaters who don't want to learn the hard way that they won't fit.

Just outside Consall station, London Bridge used to carry an ironstone tramway over the railway and canal to a wharf which could handle three boats at a time. During the ironstone boom of the second half of the nineteenth century, the Churnet valley was not the peaceful place it is today.

In the gloom of the canal's offside stands an isolated milepost. When the railway was built, the towing path was switched to the other bank but this milepost was left in place.

At Consall Station, the canal was diverted into a narrow trough with the platform and waiting room overhanging.

The railway crosses the canal at Consallforge, overlooked by the Black Lion Inn.

Despite the time of year, it was warm enough in the sunshine to sit outside the pub and watch the trains go by. I couldn't stay long, though, because it gets dark so early.

On the way back to Froghall, I saw this unusual visitor. It's actually a Soviet-era Antonov transport plane but it looks like it belongs to a bygone age. With its steam trains and old canal, the valley itself has a vanished world feel to it at times and this fitted the atmosphere perfectly.

And that was it for 2006. I'm preparing this page in the middle of January 2007 and it's too wet and cold to leave the house. There might be some cold days that freeze the mud between now and then but roll on spring and summer for me.