I still don't believe it.

Trip Start Apr 02, 2012
Trip End Oct 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
On Charis by Westport Lake

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Miles 8
Locks 6
The day started cloudy and threatening rain but actually held off until about 30 minutes after we moored. Before we left Barlaston we saw our two single handers go by and several minutes later another boat went past. We left about 20 minutes later still and caught up with those 3 boats waiting at the first lock. So, back to the pattern - Bryan went off and helped them all through while I stayed on board and waited our turn. They eventually left us, turning on to the Caldon canal while we carried on up the Trent and Mersey. They shouldn't be ahead of us tomorrow.

So, today's journey took us through most of Stoke on Trent. It is a very interesting stretch of canal, not always beautiful, passing through disused potteries with their very noticeable brick furnaces, shaped like gigantic bottles about 30ft high. We rarely moor in towns or cities but we make an exception here. There is a very short stretch of visitor moorings with mooring rings provided as the bank is concrete, beside a rather lovely lake. There is enough room for about 6 to 8 boats. We could see as we approached that it was full apart from a space right at the beginning. We got closer and noticed that there were no mooring rings on that stretch. What to do? Then I noticed a piece of nylon rope had been tied at the side which would serve us to tie our back rope and we would share the ring of the boat in front. The boater, Alan, came out to help us in and bingo; all moored up for the night. 

Westport Lake has been through many changes in the last few hundred years. In the early 1800s there was no lake at all. The land was farmed and Brownhills Colliery ran deep under ground. For a short time after 1881, Port Vale even played football here until subsidence caused by flooding of the colliery below created a shallow lake. A local man, Smith Shirley, saw an opportunity to attract people to the lake to spend their leisure time. He created a promenade for walking and cycling with rowing boats and steam boats for river trips on the water. In 1890 he advertised in the Sentinel;
"The lake is so safe as all should be knowing,
You can get out and walk if you're tired of rowing.
It's the last place in the Potteries for recreation
And only 5 minutes walk from Longport Station."
What he didn't advertise is that he built the promenade from waste from the gas works and dredgings from the canal.
There we quite a lot of people around here when we arrived, walking with their dogs, cycling, and feeding the inevitable ducks and geese. There is now a children's swing park with car parking and a nature centre with cafe close together at the head of the lake and it is obviously well used by the local community.
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