Hall Green to Harding's Wood (1½ miles)
The Trent & Mersey Canal, Hall Green Branch, is today regarded as a part of the Macclesfield Canal, with the real junction between the two being at Harding's Wood. However, the character of this last mile and a half is quite different from the Macclesfield. No more stonework; the T&M almost exclusively employed bricks for its structures and the bridges, narrows and aqueducts along this branch are generally in blue engineering bricks.
In order to join the T&M, the branch has to cross the deep valley at Red Bull on a high embankment; very out of character for the T&M! First the Red Bull aqueduct over Liverpool Road, then over the T&M main line itself at Pool Lock aqueduct. The brickwork in this aqueduct illustrates a considerable lack of quality - best viewed from below - which is surprising considering that Telford was the T&M's engineer at the time. Between the two aqueducts is the site of the 1987 breach, at the point where the modern spillway is located.
At the wharf by foot bridge 96 (ex BW depot and ex Piper’s pictured above), having now crossed the valley, the Macclesfield takes a very sharp turn to the left and runs along parallel to the T&M. At Harding's Wood another left turn takes the canal into a T junction with the T&M. You will appreciate that for travellers on the T&M main line the junction with the Macclesfield is 'on the wrong side'. Many are the tales of boaters cruising up and down, usually in the dark, between Harecastle tunnel and the top lock looking for the turn off to the Macclesfield on the north side!
This is now the end of the Macclesfield Canal, 27¾ miles from Marple at its northern end, and now part of the Cheshire Ring Canal Walk, via the T&M, Bridgewater, Ashton and Peak Forest canals back to Marple.
From Harding’s Wood, it is a short walk to Kidsgrove town centre. You can follow a dreary estate road for one and a half miles to the village of Newchapel, itself nothing special except that in its churchyard is the gravestone of the father of the English canal system, James Brindley - hence the pilgrimage.