I have climbed Heartbreak Hill five times and, following this most recent trip, descended it once. The Trent & Mersey canal climbs out of the Cheshire Plain by a long series of locks to the summit-level at Hardings Wood Junction where you can continue south through the dark, dank 1.75 mile Harecastle Tunnel or choose the light and the Macclesfield Canal – on this occasion, we chose the latter. The right turn at the junction neatly takes the canal back on itself and over Poole Aqueduct – beneath you is the Trent & Mersey where your younger self travelled some thirty minutes previous.
Many of the locks on Heartbreak Hill are doubled, although not all of the parallel locks are still usable – some are filled in, some abandoned and, most alarmingly, some are accessible but too narrow. Our greatest ‘heartbreak’ was discovering that the Lock 57 Restaurant had gone the way of the adjacent Romping Donkey pub – both at Hassall Green and both closed for business. Consequently we pressed on, mooring at Church Lawton, six locks shy of the summit. In the days when the UK boasted a mainframe computer manufacturer, I worked nearby at ICL Kidsgrove – this is familiar territory.
I have included the colour image to show the state of the water – it is Tango orange, the result of iron-rich springs seeping into the water from the nearby Harecastle Tunnel. Not a place to go for a swim, intentional or otherwise (might work as an instant tan 😉 )
Click on the images to enlarge – in particular the last to pick up on the reference to the “Kidsgrove Gas Light Company”.