Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Warm sun, wildlife and a bit of Welsh wood…

We waited till 11:00 this morning. The forecast told us that the overnight and early rain would move east through the morning, and for once it was spot on. The clouds broke up and the sun was quite warm.

Looking good, time to go

Just under the bypass bridge there’s the chicane caused by the fleets of hire boats at Whitchurch Marina…

We had four lift bridges to negotiate today, two shortly after we left, Tilstock an hour further on, then Morris part way across the mosses. All required 60-odd turns of the windlass on the hydraulic motor to lift, but slightly fewer to lower.

Moorings and a picnic area near Bridge 37IMG_3128

West of the small settlement of Platt Lane the canal emerges from the rolling landscape around Whitchurch and enters the mosses. This area is the third largest lowland peat bog in the country, originally around 7½ square miles, now down to around 5 due to peat cutting and draining for agricultural use. The canal cuts dead straight through the flat landscape.

Whixall MossIMG_3143

Looking back to Morris Lift Bridge

The Prees Branch heads off to the south along here, now only around a mile long, but originally only about two miles, and it never actually reached the village it was named for, running out of steam near Quina Brook.

Prees Branch

After the junction the canal runs through an area of the mosses that has been colonised by woodland in a strip alongside the canal. It’s also along here that the canal makes a brief foray into Wales for the first time, just two miles before returning to England near Hampton Bank.

I foraged a couple of birch logs from along the towpath here. I reckon there’s going to be a willow going begging soon…IMG_3144

We pulled over for the night just after Cornhill Bridge, number 47. Still in Wales here, but it was lovely and sunny, slanting in from the left.

After a brew I set to and sliced and diced the logs we’d collected, including the three that have been taking up space for a couple of weeks. I’d better clean the roof now…

Oh, nearly forgot the wildlife.

Resident robin at Tilstock

Unconcerned squirrel foraging amongst the leaf litterIMG_3131

After several minutes of flirting with us, this kingfisher finally decided to sit still!

I think we’re in for some heavy rain tomorrow. If that’s the case we’ll maybe stay put, or move just a short distance to Hampton Bank. We’re only a couple of hours from Ellesmere, but there’s no point in doing them in the rain.

Locks 0, miles 6¾

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