Water is that slightly magical element on which our canal system depends. The engineers had to give a great deal of thought towards collecting it in reservoirs throughout the system. Some of these are very large, such as Rudyard Lake which supplies the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals. But reservoirs are not the only source of water. Some of it comes from the land itself, the quantity depending upon the terrain through which the canal passes – also upon weather conditions.
If we imagine a canal running through ground which is higher than the canal, it is easy to see where the water will go during a period of intense rain, depending on how waterlogged the ground is. Provision had to be made to prevent the canal overflowing its banks.
Travelling around the system, the intrepid navigator will sometimes see a spill weir intended to take some of this excess – but in very wet con...
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