Monday, 30 July 2012

Back to Ellesmere

We left Maesbury Marsh this morning, the forecast being better today than tomorrow so we decided to go back up the Monty rather than tomorrow in the rain. It was dry for most of the day with a few heavy showers.

We reached Ashton Locks and I realised as John went into the first lock that the pound above was very low, the gate had been open and we realised that a paddle was half up as well.  John got about 50 yards out of the lock, scraping the bottom before he was stuck, so I went up to the next lock to let some more water down. Eventually I saw Triskaideka coming around the corner very slowly, just floating.  I dropped the paddles and we managed to get into the lock ok.  The next pound was down a bit, but only as I had taken some extra out but we were ok from then on.  We had a steady cruise not seeing any additional boats, so we don't think anyone had come down the Monty at all on Sunday.

We arrived at the Frankton locks about 11:45 and I walked up to the top lock and the lock keeper, who said we could make our way up, I walked back and let John into the bottom lock, it was only as I went to close the paddle I realised it had a chain and padlock on it.  I had to walk back to the lock keeper, he had no idea it was padlocked and no idea where the key might be!  After a bit of searching he produced a key and fortunately it opened the padlock.  The lock keepers rotate the cover for Frankton Locks as the permanent lock keeper is ill, the one on today obviously wasn't on yesterday!

It was like going from a B road in the highlands to the M25 on a Friday afternoon when we pulled back onto the Llangollen, boats everywhere, two coming up and two coming down and us trying to exit the Montgomery, we managed to pull in behind one and before the next one came through the bridge and cruised back to Ellesmere and onto the arm, where we have moored.

As we pulled into the arm I thought I recognised a boat that we met last year in Warwick, it's a share boat so we were really surprised that it was the same family, (apparently its the same weeks as last year) we have had a long catch up with them this afternoon (sorry to delay you and hope you managed to find a nice mooring before it was dark! It was lovely to see you all again).  Where next year??

The new horse drawn boat at Maesbury Marsh

Locked Paddle

10 miles 8 locks No Grumps!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Onto the Monty

Friday evening we watched the opening ceremony and were really impressed, although like many others did feel that Macca shouldn't have been rolled out, must admit that was my turning off point!

Saturday saw us having a slow cruise to Welsh Frankton ready for our decent down the locks between 12 & 2, I say slow, very slow, tickover to neutral most of the way, we were following a hire boat, who we decided had a couple of weeks to do the Llangollen, they were obviously experienced as they had no problem with the bridges and bends but were just very slow and that's from the couple who don't travel fast!

We arrived just before 12 and the lock keeper was getting the locks ready, she said there were two booked to go down and five to come up, there was a boat at the top who wanted to go down but had not booked and they couldn't get through to book, they were not happy but it does say on all information regarding the Monty that you have to book and you can't book with the lock keeper.  We had a smooth descent passing NB Kelly Louise on the way.  We first met Peter and Margaret in Wrenbury and have been passing each other since.

We decided to cruise down to Maesbury Marsh, this is a lovely rural canal and we never saw another boat, not even moored until we got to the Navigation where there are a few permanent moorings and three boats on the visitor moorings.  We decided to go and turn around, the b****** lift bridge, now supports a notice saying to wind slowly, like you could wind it fast!  It is better than last year but still slips, but not as much.  John went to turn around and I managed to keep the bridge open as there was no traffic, so I only had to open and close it once.

Today we had a lazy day, its been sunny, with some heavy showers and windy.  We went to the Navigation for Sunday Lunch.  The lunch was lovely, as we expected having eaten here before, we had no hesitation with the main course as it was roast beef rib and this is one of our favourites.  The Navigation pride themselves on locally sourced produce.  Although they sounded and looked fabulous we couldn't manage a pud.

After lunch, we walked along the Monty, to the end of the navigable bit and beyond, we saw the work in progress of the restoration and beyond where there is a very over grown canal bed.

The geese are still guarding the lock

Hope there is a gap for us to get through that bridge

Our Mooring

10 miles 8 locks 2 lift bridges
The Navigation

The Montgomery - end of the current navigation

The restoration

 95 yards done, 335 to do (on this section)

Friday, 27 July 2012

Weather on the turn, again?

We set off from Whitchurch this morning in bright sunshine and a mere breath of wind.  The arm was busy last night and some of the shennanigans watching a boat try to turn right and under the lift bridge did raise a smile. As did the chap who untied as we were passing him and saw his bow swing out alarmingly.  No harm done.

We had an uneventful and even  peaceful journey, again suprised at just how few boats were on the move for this canal, at this time of year. We passed through the long straight at Whixhall Moss, and then stopped for water at Bettisfield.  For some reason, this is not shown on our Nicholsons, but we pencilled it in on a previous visit.  It is always good to top up with water, especially as we had completed a clothes wash utilising the travel power whilst on the move.  The next services are at Ellesmere, but we intended to moor before these, primarily because it is always busy, but secondly, as the moorings in, will possibly give a better TV reception for the Olympic opening ceremony tonight.

So without any problems we arrived in Ellesmere and moored prior to the junction.  We had a walk with the rubbish and cassette to the services, then Ali went to do a little shopping.  I am still not 100 percent, so returned to the boat.  Little in the way of rest though as all the boats we had not seen in the morning arrived in convoy in both directions and are now seeking a mooring spot.

It is still a very pretty and rural canal.  Takes some beating.

The cloud increased during the day and the temperature dropped markedly.  However, late afternoon and the sun is once again out, but the wind is strong. Fingers crossed for our trip down the Monty.

I do not understand boat electrics. I had a discussion in regard to this with James, N.B. Chance , last night.  James, just for info just before switching off the travel power the battery charger was showing "float". "Smartguage" 100 percent.
Must get some education in this matter....

Cooling off ....

This isn't real

But this one is!

Prees Branch


Its difficult to see but
this is the neatest log pile we have ever seen

Past the meres
one of my favourite mooring spots, but not today

12 Miles.  0 Locks.  4 Lift bridges.  1 Tunnel of 87 yards.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Gosh. What a tiring day!

After the exertions of yesterday, we decided to have a bit of a rest today.  Ali also fancied a little retail therapy and a visit to the hairdressers. So, we travelled but one mile to Whitchurch!

Our mooring last night was above Grindley brook, so a quick shufty in reverse took us to the water points to once again fill up and empty.  I feel a little better today so the old hen worked.... As we were moving back, we spoke with the single hander who followed us up the locks yesterday.  He told us that he had been up since 6 am pumping out his boat!

Turns out that whilst coming up the middle lock of the staircase, with his cratch and bow doors open, the force of water leaking from the lock gates had resulted in there being 2" of water in the boat!  The chap was visibly upset as you would be and explained that there were no bollards to secure the boat. He had got off to work the paddles, with the lock keeper when he saw the boat move forward into the flow and was powerless to stop it.  We felt so sorry for him.  He went on to say that another boater had suffered the same fate earlier in the day, again another single hander. Appears today there were two lock keepers on the flight!

After filling up we travelled the gruelling mile to New mills lift bridge. The weather was glorious. Ali lifted the bridge and I then reversed into the Whitchurch arm, which was virtually deserted.  We then walked into the town centre and had a look around.  Ali managed to find a hairdressers with an afternoon appointment, so we did a supermarket shop, or rather a half shop, which I took back to the boat, Ali then completing the shop after her appointment.

As the day progressed, more and more boats entered the arm and it is now at full capacity, literally button to button.  I contacted C.A.R.T. and booked passage down the Monty for Saturday, so it looks like Ellesmere here we come tomorrow!

1 Mile.  1 lift bridge.  No Grump's

Onto Grindley Brook

After the Internet free stay at Wrenbury, we set off in somewhat cloudy conditions heading for  Grindley Brook.
You can't beat a good scratch in the morning!
The sun soon broke through the haze and the heat increased.  The locks prior to Grindley are very pleasantly situated and after the deep double locks of the Leeds Liverpool seem a breeze to operate. Except.....the by washes are fierce and entering the lock to ascend can prove a tad tricky.  This also obviously applies to the descent as well, which we found to our cost at one stage when a boat descending did not account for the effect and side swiped us.

We made steady progress enjoying the scenery until reaching the first lock of the Grindley flight.  This we ascended without a wait, but then found that there was a log jam of boats.  As you may be aware, the top three locks of this flight are a staircase.  The keeper allows three up, then three down. The problem was everyone was heading up!  So we had a bit of a wait and explained to those not familiar with the procedure.  Some could not understand why we were refilling the lock above us in readiness for the next boat descending until we explained that as the pound above was full, nobody was moving until the final ascent of the next three began.

Anyway, up we went eventually.  I think the lock keeper was a little stressed as he was a little short to Ali.

At the top of the flight are the services, and a little beyond these some decent moorings. So we filled and emptied as you do. I found a set of keys at the Elasan point, which had a telephone number on them. Rang this but it went to answerphone, so I left a message and handed them to the lock keeper.

After having a really pleasant meal at the Horse and Jockey, we walked back to the boat.  I have had a sore throat all day, and this has got worse.  Feel crap, it has to be man flu !  So had an early night after taking my medication.  As I type this on a cloudy and sultry Thursday morning, I do feel a little better.  That old speckled hen is bloody good medicine!

P.s. Grumpy git came up to me yesterday at the top of the flight, and apologised for his outburst yesterday. I was magnanimous....

7 Miles.  10 Locks.  1 Lift bridge.  Only minor grumps and one apology!

Not dissapointed by the madness!

Grumpy Git.
Sorry to be so abrupt. But those who know me can verify just what a tolerant and level headed chap I am (not!).

A beautiful dawn, well dawned!  This was assisted by the thoughtful chap who passed at 0625 bashing us against the “shroppie shelf”.  No matter, I was sort of awake anyway.  Sort of!

I opened the side hatch and the low elevated light flooded in revealing a perfect morning.  I then heard a distinct plop as something dropped into the water.  Now this section has concrete banks, although a stunted Hawthorn wept branches into the water.  The lower limbs collecting vegetative debris forming a mat.  As my weary eyes scanned the scene, I saw a small furry animal swimming in the cut, which then climbed said mat, pausing momentarily to preen itself.  Joy of joy’s, twas a water vole.  This is becoming a rare beast and was a joy to see. 

I was therefore at days dawn, full of good cheer.

As we are in no rush, we let the initial charge commence the start of the Llangollen.  After a while we reversed back, and duly took our place in the queue to ascend the Hurleston flight.  We were fourth, no worries.  We became aware of a small Anglo Welsh boat which seemed to be missing out on its turn.  Turns out they were first time hirers approaching their first lock and were somewhat flummoxed as to the procedure!  A nice chap who was single handed in a Braidbar boat and was behind them, began to instruct and assist them and Ali then went to help further.  The couple on the hire boat were so enthusiastic and happy, it was hard not to be infected with their joy .  All was going swimmingly.
Then Grumpy git appeared...

He came through the bridge at the bottom of the flight, turning before he realised there was a queue.  His first utterance was “bugger” as he proceeded to turn into the mouth of the first lock as a boat was exiting.  I politely pointed out that boats were waiting to ascend, to be met  with  an antagonistic bombastic response.  Mr know it all let us say , waited his turn!

From Hurleston through to Wrenbury, we followed the single handed Braidbar boat, who himself followed the joyous novice hirers.  In no small part to Ali’s endeavours, we all ascended the locks .  Ali was I would think working  twice the locks she needed to in order to help both before us.
So when we got to Wrenbury, I just had to take her out for a well deserved meal at the Dusty Miller.

Now as we sat in there, overlooking the lift bridge and several hours since we had moored up, we saw a hire boat negotiating the lift bridge.  We became aware of someone bellowing “ hold the button down” even though the boaters seemed to be coping fine.
Arsehole from the morning had caught us up and was once again attempting to bully Hirers.  A sad sad man.....

6 Miles.  9 Locks.  One MEGA Grumpy git!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Let the Madness commence!

Today saw us waving goodbye to the Shady Oak and the Manley Ferry.  As we left the sun was up ready for yet another glorious day.  We seemed to fly up the locks and soon reached the staircase at Bunbury.  I know not why, but this is one of my favourite canal sections.  There seemed to be a lot of activity at the Anglo-Welsh base there, a sign of things to come?

We watered at the excellent services at Calverley, and emptied the "other", then made our way to Barbridge, mooring just before the junction in order to visit the chandlers.  Oh what sport we saw as boats negotiated the turn from/onto the Middlewich arm.  It was busy!  This is really a first in this years cruising.  Saying that though, there were still free moorings.

It was not our intention to turn onto the Llangollen today.  So we didn't !  We initially moored on one of the Shroppy spots right on the junction, but as the bank was somewhat curved at this location and with the inevitable shelf, passing boats whacked us into the shelf with their wash.  This junction, Hurleston, is mega busy.  Highly entertaining though, with boats meeting at the bridge and attempting the turn. After a chat to our neighbour, we decided to move a hundred yards or so south of the junction were there was a better bank, but less entertainment!

Movement continued through the evening, the last boat passing us at 2130, displaying his nav lights!

We may well pop down to Nantwich in the morning in order to obtain vittles, then turn and ascend Hurleston.  The Llangollen in the height of the season is not every ones cup of tea, but it is rather entertaining.  Bring it on and let the madness commence.

We will see in a week or so if my judgement was sound or not, in navigating what must be one of the busiest canals at seasons height!

The sun is bound to shine from now on as N.B. Chance is back out and about.

NB Caxton aka Manley Ferry

This time I saw the fence so knew they are farmed deer!

There are a couple of these along this stretch, anyone know what they are?

7 miles, 6 locks, one minor grumpy git (If you don't count me!)

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