Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Back down the Llangollen

Saturday was not as bad as forecast and the weather improved throughout the day.  We had another walk around Llangollen, John had another fishing session with little success though.   A few boats left the basin but many more arrived.  As the evening was looking the best part of the day we decided to make our escape, thinking that it would be much easier to get through the narrows at that time of day.  We were correct as well, two boats approaching as we came out of the first section, and one (bless them) waiting in the lay-bye in the second section as they thought it was narrow all the way to Llangollen, I explained that they could move on as boats can pass in the middle section, so they let us past and then moved on.  Another couple of boats as we approached Trevor and that was it, we are sure much easier than on Sunday morning!

Leaving Llangollen

Trevor Basin

We continued over the Pontcysyllte, the view as always stunning, although with the flow of the canal the boat was banging against the sides which is a little unnerving at that height.  We passed NB Islonian and Ashdown,  who we had seen and had a quick chat with in Llangollen, the fishing rods were out.  We continued a little further and  moored for the night by Whitehouse Bridge.

Sunday we set off,  straight through Whitehouse tunnel, not so at Chirk tunnel, as we approached there was a boat in the tunnel, as we looked there was another further back as well, as that got near the middle we realised there was another one behind, in all seven before we managed to get through and as we stuck our bow in the entrance another boat did at the other end but they flashed us and backed out.  We had better luck over the aqueduct and had a pleasant cruise to New Marton locks.  These locks are always a bottleneck and six boats in front of us waiting to go down was not unusual, we soon discovered that one of them, had actually moored up to watch the F1 GP.  Movement was really slow and after a coffee, I took my windless to help out,  along with one other lady whose boat was about 3 in front of us.  If ever there is are locks that need a CRT volunteer its these.  I really am amazed how many people, a) stand holding onto their centre line until the lock is ready for them to come into it, at which point someone walks forward with a windlass or  have absolutely no idea how a lock works and don't think that it might be a good idea to suss it out before its their turn.  I don't know what else the hire companies can do, the people I spoke to did say they had been sent a DVD which they said they had watched and had been shown on a model at the hand over, 'but its different when you get here'.  One lady had a book with her so she could follow the directions (better than nothing), and John heard the boat behind us having a domestic as she refused to work the lock as no-one was there to help her.   I will help anyone and are more than happy to do so (John said he thought as he was waiting that I could be a CRT volunteer), however one tried to take the pee, he did come to the lock without a windlass, whilst the boat was well and truly tied up, she played with the dog on the towpath, it was his turn and we had to tell him to go and bring the boat in, she then took ages to catch the dog, then she put the dog in the bow and got in herself, he eventually brought the boat into the lock and she sat looking very pretty.  To be fair he did look really embarrassed as myself and another lady worked him down the lock, as he existed she never said thanks or anything, just looked straight through us, he did say thanks, apparently she did get off at the second lock but didn't wind a paddle or open a gate just stood with the dog!  Rant over ......

We got through the second lock without so much of a hold up and then down to the Jack Mytton, moored up the quickest we have ever done and got into the bar at 2.25, we knew they stopped serving Sunday Lunch at 2:30.  We were the last in but we enjoyed the food and the beer wasn't bad either.   Following lunch we continued down to Frankton Junction.  A wander down the locks later in the day and a walk along the Monty and back along country lanes with some very nice houses.

Chirk Aqueduct

I love this house!  

Frankton Locks

A short hop on Monday to Ellesmere, not very far, 3 miles.  Moored up and had a wander around, very quiet for a Bank Holiday Monday, not very much going off at all.  A lovely day so we wandered back to the mooring and enjoyed the afternoon watching the boats negotiate the very sharp bend at Ellesmere and enjoying the lovely sunshine.

Today we did a bit of shopping in Ellesmere, got some lovely pies from the Farmers Market (which we have had for tea), and some really nice stuff from the bakers and butchers, we then topped up with other stuff in tesco.  We were about to move over to the water point when NB Islonian appeared around the corner, it was one of those times, one minute no one was there, we untied and three boats were on the services in minutes, never mind, no rush, we pulled over and hung back from the services and then pulled in when there was a gap.  We then cruised along through the meres and woods, a lovely stretch of canal, we then approached the nature reserves and Whixall Moss, so much work has been done on these reserves over the past few years and it is really showing now. Three lift bridges broke up the cruising and we soon reached our destination for today Whitchurch Arm.  We have managed to get in right down the arm and got a tv picture, well we have to tonight its the Great British Bake Off, its about the only thing I watch on tv.

Blake Mere

Back into England

Whixall Moss

 Another lovely sunset

24/08/13 Llangollen to Whitehouse Bridge 6 miles
25/08/13 Whitehouse Bridge to Frankton 9 miles 2 locks
26/08/13 Frankton Junction to Ellesmere 3 miles
27/08/13 Ellesmere to Whitchurch 12.5 miles 3 lift bridges

Friday, 23 August 2013

Into Llangollen Basin

Well the rain and thunder was all a bit pathetic really, a few claps of thunder, black skies for a while and a occasionally a bit of heavy rain but nothing much really.  It was a damp evening though and as it got dark it was really misty, I did try to get some photos but not much success I am afraid.

This morning the promised sun was hiding and has done all day, I suppose that is Wales for you (or the British weather).  We set off heading for Chirk Aqueduct and tunnel.  The aqueduct has a railway viaduct alongside and are both are impressive structures, the aqueduct is quickly followed by Chirk tunnel, both were free of boats so we made good progress, again, at the one lift bridge of the day, unusually for us a boat opened it for us and waved us through.

Chirk approach

Looking through the viaduct

Aqueduct & viaduct

and with a train

Entrance to the tunnel (lovely flowers on the top)
It really is amazing cruising along this stretch, along the valley of the River Dee, but the canal on the hillside so looking down the valley.  We crossed the River Dee (only 126ft above it)  and the valley on the Pontcysylite Aqueduct, the aqueduct is just over 1000ft long, again straight over not having to wait for it to be clear as it is one way traffic.   This structure never ceases to impress no matter how many times we cross it.

the first glimpse through the trees

crossing the valley

We made the turn at Trevor onto the last stretch of the Llangollen canal, this last 4 miles is very narrow in places (one boat width) with passing places, a bit like a very narrow country lane, so I walked the narrow sections, but we only passed two boats and both were in the slightly wider sections.

Looking down on the valley

through the first narrow

and the second

We made it into the basin which surprisingly for the lack of boats we have seen on the move was about three quarters full, although a number have left later this afternoon.  We have had a walk down into Llangollen and watched the white water rafting on the River this afternoon as well as paying our mooring fee at the Horse Drawn Boat office.

John has been fishing this evening, he has had a few small fish and a few that apparently got away... then he got this..  not a bad roach!

11 miles, Chirk tunnel 459 yards & Whitehouse tunnel 191 yards

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Tickover to Ellesmere

We left our lovely mooring this morning a little too late, the plan was a short hop into Ellesmere a bit of shopping and continue towards Llangollen.  The short hop took us until lunchtime, as we were behind two very slow boats, the second of which tried to go through Ellesmere tunnel more or less on tick over against the flow, I was surprised he didn't come back out!  Oh well what a lovely place to go slow... passed the Mere's.

We eventually made it and moored in the arm after a kind chap shuffled up to allow us in.  We had a wander around getting a few things we needed, then reversed out of the arm and onwards.  Its has been fairly quiet (for the Llangollen) up to now, but today we have seen a number of boats going back to the hire bases.   We passed the entrance to the Montgomery, the lock keeper was still in attendance and with still one boat to go down.  We arrived at New Marton locks with just one boat waiting with one coming down so we were soon swiftly through, at the second lock there were a number of boats waiting to come down, but no-one from them on the locks, they are just all patiently queuing, awaiting their turn, it may come to them one day, if they came and helped it may, just may, speed things up a bit, but no matter we aren't in a hurry.  As we came up the second lock, although it was sunny and hot, there was one black cloud, which decided to deposit large plops of rain, not for long but it did look like it was just the beginning, the huge clap of thunder a few minutes later was the decision maker, we moored up on the Shropshire Union moorings on St Martins Moor for the night.

11 miles & 2 locks, Ellesmere tunnel (87 yards)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

CRT Survey

There is a new survey on CRT's fcebook page, please take time to complete it.

Visitor Mooring Survey

Crossing the border

Again a later start and again only one boat had passed before we left.  We approached the first lock in the company of one of the CRT Lengthsman who we were chatting to as he walked along checking the bank.  He caught us up at Gindley Brook hours later!  Passing under Quoisley bridge we approached the first lock of the day.  Fairly uneventful along the next few locks with a few boats coming down, until Povey’s lock, a boat had just come out and as I approached a lady was closing the gates, I shouted to her (as she must had seen both me and John on Triskaideka) to which she said ‘ yes I know but there are two of us coming down’.  By which time I was at the lock so I explained that the lock was in out favour so we should come in and then they could use the lock as we exited, therefore not using any more water than necessary.  No explanation could help, she didn’t get it, she was convinced that I was wasting water by us coming up an empty lock before she went down, even though she would have had to fill it and then empty it again!  She was adamant that she should have filled and empty lock as there were two boats coming down, I asked her how she knew that there wasn’t a boat behind us, or even three.  Oh well, we were in and up and out and she still didn’t get it, hope they aren’t going far! 

We were soon at Grindley Brook, up the first three into the pound below the staircase, where I went to find the Lock keeper.  Two boats were ascending the flight so we made three, three up, three down, so he told me to come up as soon as the bottom lock was empty.  We made swift passage up, aided by a lady who was waiting to come down the locks.  We made use of the services at the top and continued towards Whitchurch.  After passing through the lift bridge we had considered stopping in the arm but seeing it looked fairly full we decided to press on.  The arm was full but none of the moorings along the main canal had any boats on them.

Grindley Locks

Grindley Staircase locks

Whitchurch Lift Bridge
It remained cloudy most of the day with an occasional glimpse of the sun but wasn’t cold at all.  We soon passed Platt Lane again the moorings were empty, from this point for ages we didn’t see another boat.  We passed the Press Branch and then along the long straight that crosses Wixhall Moss and nature reserve, also passing the post that has England on one side and Wales on the other.  We have moored outside Bettisfield for the night, where we have been watching the swallows dive into the canal, the buzzards circling hoping for a rabbit from the field at the side of us, and being very careful where we tread due to lots of little frogs on the towpath, which we think are coming from the pond in the field below where we are moored.  Its a lovely quiet spot just before Lynea Moss.  Another lovely sky as the sun set.

The first of the Welsh hills coming into view

Crossing the border

Sunset through the porthole
Doesn't look it but tiny frogs

Rabbits being very careful 

12.5 miles 9 locks & 5 lift bridges

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Daddy Longlegs invasion

We didn't rush this morning, even so, only one boat had passed us as we started getting ready to set off.  Just as we were about to go another boat appeared but they moored in front of us as they were stopping for breakfast.  We caught up the first boat as we got to Swanley lock, he was on his own, but very efficient on the locks, at the next lock we got chatting to a lovely couple on a hire boat we were nattering for a while as they were asking which canals they should do, etc.  Along the next few locks there were boats coming down which made life easy.  A CRT chap was clearing a great clump of weed from Baddiley No 1 lock, it was a massive clump and he was struggling to break it up and drag it out of the cut, he was concerned of it getting into the paddle chamber.  He eventually cleared it and we were able to use the lock.

Buzzards flying around
We continued along to Wrenbury and as the visitor moorings were empty we moored up for lunch, we then stopped a few cars at the lift bridge and cruised along to Marbury.

Returning the bridge back to road use

This cottage is still for sale

with its own mooring
 We have visited the Swan at Marbury on a number of occasions as we discovered years ago that the food was really nice, well it looks like it has been hit like so many other pubs, and apparently closed last year and was re-opened in October, unfortunately it is not as it was.  The food was ok but nothing special and its not somewhere we would rush back to, although the view from the church of the mere is still worth the walk to this lovely village.  It was another very pleasant day, sunny with some cloud, let it continue!

Marbury Church

and Mere

Our mooring
They are harvesting near where we are moored and I don't know if its anything to do with that but we have been invaded by daddy longlegs, prior to this we have hardly seen any this year, as I speak there is a huge one flying around the lights!

I have been playing with the camera again ...

7.5 miles, 6 locks & 2 lift bridges