On leaving Northwich, we rise up in the magnificent Anderton Boat Lift and turn right to head for Middlewich, skirting around the environs of industrial Northwich. We cruise through a beautiful stretch of countryside, heading to Bugsworth Basin, Middlewich. In Middlewich, which is known for its dairy, silk products and brine (the source of salt), you can see a large salt factory and salt mountain.
We then head for Heartbreak Hill, a flight of 26 locks that unfold mostly in open countryside. We travel on past Hardings Wood Junction to Harecastle Tunnel, which in places is extremely low but is one of our favourites, because it's one way. After leaving the tunnel, we pass a large and long tile factory, soon to pass Westport Lake.
At Etruria, we turn onto the Caldon Canal, which is acknowledged to be one of the most picturesque of the inland waterways. We pass through Hanley, the main town of 'The five towns' of the Potteries. The first part of the canal is projected against an industrial landscape background before it reaches open country.
There are several lift bridges and at Stockton Brook, a flight of five locks raises the canal over 40 feet into stone wall country. The canal passes under the Leek Branch at Hazelhurst Junction and continues on to Cheddleton, where there is one of several flint mills which supplied flint to the pottery trade.
We retrace our journey to Hazelhurst Junction and back to the Trent and Mersey Canal. Turning left we immediately descend five locks, passing old factories, and two bottle kilns which have been restored among new apartments.
Descending one lock at Barlaston and the Wedgwood factory, we continue to descend past Meaford and on towards Stone.