Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To Frankton Junction and cheeky birds at Ellesmere…

We had another fairly early start today, off at 08:30. Doing it this way you get an hour or two’s cruising before the traffic starts to build up.

We spoke to Carol yesterday evening; they are up near Crick and are going to have a look around the castle. We probably won’t catch up now till Llangollen.

The canal is very bendy on this stretch, following the contours of the hills, and it’s inevitable that you meet a convoy coming the other way on a blind bend!

Near Bridge 51 is the home of the Lyneal Trust, an organisation that specialises in providing holidays for disabled people. Most of these schemes seem to be run on canals in built up areas, I suppose it’s easier to get government funding. Anyone having the opportunity to use this one is in for a treat.

The Lyneal Trust.
Alongside Cole Mere and Blake Mere is delightful, heavily wooded and full of birdsong. There are some idyllic moorings in the woods along here.

Moorings at Cole Mere.

Canal boating seems to be the least chauvinistic of all leisure pursuits. It’s usually the female half of the crew who seems to be doing the donkey work, while the bloke stands at the tiller. Here, in a shallow winding hole near Blake Mere, the woman is hauling the bow of the boat round from the bank as the man stands on the stern.

More convolutions takes us to Ellesmere tunnel, one of 3 on the canal, and at 87 yards long, the middle one in terms of length.

Ellesmere Tunnel, West Portal.We stopped at Ellesmere services to get rid of rubbish and empty the loo. We’d filled up with water at Bettisfield yesterday, so we didn’t need that. I came out of the sluice room to see Mags surrounded by ducks and sparrows, all clamouring for breadcrumbs. I’d forgotten how tame they are around here.

Duck and Sparrow on roof, Meg looks on…About 3 miles past Ellesmere is Frankton Junction, where the Montgomery Canal heads off in a south-westerly direction towards Newtown. Only 7 miles is accessible from the junction, but restoration is ongoing. We may well have a look down here on the way back, it’s supposed to be well worth a visit.

The Double Staircase Lock leading down from the junction
Moored at Frankton Junction
We decided to stop for the night here. I was ready for lunch, Meg wanted a pee and the towpath is now on the left so I was able to rub down the left side of the gunwale area, prior to its second coat.
It’s been another coolish day, with just a few breaks in the cloud. I’ve lit the fire again this evening as showers move in.
Tomorrow’s weather looks a bit dodgy, windy and rainy. We’ll wait and see, if it’s not so good we’ll maybe stay here.

Locks 0, miles 6½

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