The Caldon Canal is one of our longer dead ends, but it’s still just 17 miles long. However, it manages to squeeze into that length more variety and more features than many longer waterways. Built as a branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal (and an important supplier of water to the main line), it starts from a junction at Etruria in the Staffordshire Potteries, and ends in a secluded basin at Froghall, in the beautiful Churnet Valley and on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands. In between, it takes in flights of locks, a staircase, a tunnel, aqueducts, liftbridges, a mile-long length of the River Churnet, and an arm of its own: the Leek Arm, which crosses the Froghall line on an aqueduct, passes through another tunnel, and ends on the edge of the old market town of Leek.
Today, the Churnet Valley is a remote rural delight. But stop to explore and you’ll find signs that this was once a centre of industry in the form of limekilns, old horse tramways and flint mills.
Finally at Froghall, you can look forward to one day continuing along the old Uttoxeter extension.