Friday, November 22, 2013

A stunning day!

This is what off-season cruising is all about, beautiful sunny but crisp days, and hardly any other boats on the move.

I’m not going to apologise for less waffle and more photos today, after all, someone once said “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Possibly Napoleon Bonaparte, or maybe not

On the way this morning crossing Whixall MossSAM_7177

Looking across the moss
Whixall Moss is an area of peat bog, “a lowland raised mire”, forming a dome of peat above the surrounding countryside. Scrub vegetation and mosses have formed peat over the last 12,000 years, since the last ice age. The low oxygen environment in the bog encourages peat formation, which was up until recently cut for fuel and horticulture. The area, covering around 2000 acres, is now managed by Natural England and the Countryside Council for Wales, who have stopped the peat cutting and are protecting the rare flora and fauna that can be found here.

Morris Lift Bridge was the only interruption on our route today, and it was a pain!

Morris Lift BridgeSAM_7189
It took 80 turns of the windlass to lift it, and 50 to drop it. Raised the heart rate and gave the shoulders a work-out, anyway.

Shortly after the bridge the Prees Branch heads off to the left, southwards. It never actually reached Prees, but that’s the story of this waterway, great ideas, unfulfilled.

Prees Branch
It now only runs for ¾ mile to a marina in old clay pits.

At the end of the long straight towards Bettisfield I jumped off and climbed up onto Cornhill Bridge. Something on the horizon was beckoning…SAM_7201
Is that really snow on them there hills?? Snowdonia is 55 miles away, so they can’t be that. Nearer are the Berwyn Hills, only 23 miles. Just shows how clear it’s been today.
We’re actually in Wales at this point, the border makes a short excursion southwards which includes 2 miles of the canal here.

Leaving the moss behind the land becomes more folded and heavily cultivated. The canal is carried on a low embankment at Hampton Bank near Bettisfield.

Looking south from Hampton BankSAM_7210

There’s an area of meres, shallow lakes, another legacy of the ice age, just before Ellesmere.

Cole Mere appears first on the left….

…Blake Mere on the right

The largest is The Mere, of course, close to the town of Ellesmere.

Just before reaching Ellesmere there's the short tunnel to negotiate, then the junction to the town arm occurs on a left bend.

Ellesmere Tunnel

We pulled in just beyond the junction after a spectacular day’s cruising. SAM_7230

SAM_7197I’ll leave you with some autumnal pictures…


 Locks 0, miles 7½

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