Lots of anatomical references recently. Can’t wait to get to the head of the navigation!
Today we finished what we intended to do yesterday; get to Ellesmere. It’s been a far better day, still cold but the wind has been a lot quieter.
We got off soon after 10:00, leading Rock’n’Roll away from Hampton Bank. We’d spotted some logs looking lonely on last evening’s walk, so we had a quick stop to load up, before moving on again. Carol took some pics, so you’ll have to look here to see us struggling with them….
Leaving Hampton Bank.
At Lyneal Wharf is the base of the Lyneal Trust, dedicated to providing boating holidays for disabled people.
There are two boats here, both with optional wheel steering.
From here the canal enters an area of shallow meres, left behind by the last ice age. The largest is Ellesmere, but there are two large expanses of water right alongside the canal.
Cole Mere appears on the left of the navigation first, the second largest of the meres.
Blake Mere comes next, with just the narrow strip of towpath separating it from the canal.
Ellesmere (or just The Mere) is the largest of nine, at around 110 acres in extent. Cole Mere comes in second, at 66 acres.
Just around the corner from Blake Mere the canal dives into the confines of Ellesmere Tunnel, only 87 yards long but slow going against the flow coming down from Llangollen.
Ellesmere Tunnel, the (prettier) eastern end.
In contrast the western portal looks a little spartan…
Ten more minutes and we arrived at Ellesmere, where the short Arm goes off to the right into the town. But first we needed to get onto the service wharf just past the junction, so swung around and reversed onto the wharf. Chas and Ann were just pulling off, also in reverse to go back to the Arm, so we did a gentle Do-See-Do around each other. Not easy with two 57 foot narrowboats in the breeze that had blown up, but we managed.
Tanks filled and emptied we followed Moore2Life and Rock’n’Roll (they’d arrived while we were filling) and moored in the Arm. First a trip up to the Post Office for mail, then the first of what’s likely to be several visits to Tesco at the end of the arm. This area used to be occupied by a dairy, but all around the wharfage is now being redeveloped.
Down the arm, passing M2L and R’n’R. We went to the end to turn around before mooring.
The Llangollen Canal, strictly speaking the Llangollen Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, started life as the Ellesmere Canal, but has changed out of all recognition from the original scheme.
In 1793 an Act was passed, allowing the construction of a navigation from Netherpool (now known as Ellesmere Port) on the Mersey to Chester on the Dee, then via Ruabon and Chirk to head south-eastward to Shrewsbury on the Severn. An ambitious project to link the three main river navigations, with several arms leading to sources of mineral wealth.
Compromises and economies chopped and changed the route, the final section to Shrewsbury was never completed, although it did make it to Weston Lullingfields in Shropshire. This is the now abandoned Weston Branch running from the Montgomery Canal just south of Frankton Junction. Nor was the Chester to Ruabon link built. Instead, the proposed branch to Whitchurch and Prees was extended to link up with the (then) Chester Canal at Hurleston, and a narrow feeder to supply the locks driven along the Dee valley from Trevor Basin to above Llangollen.
So up to Frankton Junction we’re on what was intended to be the Whitchurch and Prees branch, from there to Trevor we’re on the original Main Line, then on to Llangollen it’s the navigable feeder, built to supply the locks.
It’s probably the most modified route in the history of canal building!
Locks 0, miles 5½