The sun returns!
Last weekend the sunshine made a welcome return, so we decided to get up early for a walk and make the most of it before the weather turned on us yet again! As a family, we have been trying to get out more and appreciate the beautiful places on our doorstep and the Caldon Canal couldn't be much closer! The Caldon Branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal is 17 miles long from Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent, to Froghall Wharf in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Needless to say that with two children under 5, we didn't walk the full length of the canal! We joined it at Stockton Brook and headed towards Stoke. The Canal side is great for the kids as the path is wide enough to let them walk safely in front of us. I'd say it was pretty buggy friendly too, as long as you could manage the slightly muddy bank down to the path from the roadside!
This part of the Caldon is quite pretty with views of the countryside either side. It becomes even more picturesque if you walk in the other direction towards Froghall, as you enter the Churnet Valley. This is on our to-do list for next time, with a scheduled stop at The Hollybush Pub in Denford I think! The children enjoyed seeing all the ducks and listening out for other birds and wildlife as we continued our walk.
Locks and Long Butts...
There are several locks and a manually lifted bridge called Long Butts Lift Bridge (a name the children found quite funny!) along the stretch at Stockton Brook. Last time we came for a walk here, we were lucky enough to see the locks in action as a lovely holidaying couple invited the kids aboard (and us...we didn't just throw them aboard with strangers!). People we've met along the canal here have always been really friendly, and let the kids watch or help with the locks which is always exciting for them.
Inner Pepper Pig!
After a steady 20 minutes or so, we decided to turn back as Rosie can only walk so far (she's only 2). I didn't fancy picking her up with her muddy wellies on as I'd be covered too! This girl can not resist a puddle...the muddier the better! In fact most days I'm pretty sure she's channelling her inner Pepper Pig! Stanley was excited to point out the scary house on the way back, telling his sister to watch out for ghosts! I'm not sure what this derelict building had been, but it didn't look too out of place against the backdrop. There are other items of interest along the way, such as the two interesting monuments that celebrate the Spitfire and pottery heritage which is local to the area. You can see one of them in the background of this photo.
Time for a drink?
There are three pubs/restaurants located close to where we joined/exited the Caldon Canal (just off the main road, the A53) if you fancied a drink or lunch to recharge after; The Sportsman Pub and Ego Restaurant. Greenways Golf Club is also a short walk down Stanley Road, and they serve food to non-club members too. We had a play date with friends at soft play that afternoon, so I had a gourmet lunch of chicken nuggets, chips and beans to look forward to!
More to explore...
There is so much more of this canal to explore. I'm looking forward to the springtime when we can take advantage of the beauty on our doorstep a bit more, and the canal will definitely be a good place to bring our newest family member, Dottie the Dachshund pup! I have also found a great little "Duck Guide" by the Canal and River Trust, with some fab ideas I'm going to try out with the kids next time we go. You can find the Waterside Quest download here, which contains 10 outdoor activity ideas for when you're at the waterside. I'm always after fun, free activities; let me know in the comments if you get involved too! Always remember to keep little ones safe by the water.
If you fancy going further afield and maybe hiring a boat, Rachel from My Crazy Brood has written about a trip on the Cheshire Ring Circular Canal, not far from here. She even stopped off in Stoke-on-Trent for a few days with her family. It sounds like a lovely trip!
Finding joy in the little things: What better way to spend an hour of a sunny Sunday morning than down by the canal with my family! We are all totally over the snow and cold weather now, so to be outside without 10 layers on was fab! It's amazing how much a little warmth and brightness cheers up your soul and puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day... even if you are off to soft play afterwards! Try to get out when the sun shines, even if only to walk around the block. You'll feel so much better for it! Enjoy the sunshine, wherever you are!
I've linked up this post with these fabulous blogs: