Monday, December 11, 2017

Icicles on the icicles!

The temperature here dropped to –5° or –6° overnight, cold enough to form about a ¼” of ice on the sheltered water in the Ellesmere Arm. With tonight expected to go even further south, we decided it was time to head out onto the main line. But first I had to deal with the snow drifts on the roof. At least there’s no more of that due for a bit!DSCF2060
The chap off the boat behind was clearing his roof too, and we got chatting about mobile internet access. He and his wife are here for the winter and they’re struggling for a connection. So I showed them what we have. They intend to start selling hot soup and bread from their boat shortly, they should do alright here, especially in this weather! Look out for them, Dave and Emma, and the boat is called Ida.

With the 8 inches of snow removed from the top boxes I could see where we were going, so set off back to the junction.DSCF2061

The ice got thinner as we headed further out, turning into just a thin scum as we motored out onto the canal to the service wharf.

A kettle-full of boiling water poured over the water stanchion got that defrosted so the water would flow, and I started clearing the snow from the wharf, soon joined by a couple of people from the CRT workshop.

It appears that someone is sleeping rough under the canopy alongside the dry dock.DSCF2065
Not a bad spot with access to fresh water and toilet facilities, but I don’t envy him!

With the tank full and the rubbish and recycling dealt with we pushed across the canal to moor on the towpath opposite. We’ll be here for another couple of days while the arctic temperatures prevail.

Thanks, Ade, Carol. Yes, we think she's coming out of it now. Might be some time before she's fully fit, though.
Locks 0, miles ¼

Sunday, December 10, 2017

More of the same…

More snow overnight and all through the day today. It’s going to be messy when this lot melts!DSCF2052


A snow-shrouded tree looks eerie in the dark.

We might head out of the arm tomorrow to fill with water on the wharf then moor on the main line. The still water here is turning slushy on the surface and we don’t want to have to break ice to leave if we can avoid it.

Meg appears to have stabilised; she’s not right but doesn’t seem to be getting worse. Still wheezing and coughing occasionally, but she’s eating well, getting on and off the boat with no problems and even chasing snowballs for a short while today. The antibiotics have long finished and the infection doesn’t seem to have returned, which was something I dreaded. I think it’s probably left a scar on her lung though, so she’s likely to be short of breath for some time, if not indefinitely. She’s in no pain though, is sleeping well, and is happy to play with a toy for five minutes. Fingers crossed…

And I've just discovered that roof-mounted internet aerials don't work under 8" of snow!

Locks 0, miles 0.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Not going far for a couple of days…

…the weather looks a little inclement!


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

And so to Ellesmere…

This morning we set off at around ten o’clock. It had started calm, but by mid-morning the wind had started to make itself felt. Just a breeze, but it’s steadily increasing and it’s supposed to be wild tonight.

We only went a couple of hundred yards before pulling in on the offside…DSCF2024
Well, you can’t pass up free supplies, can you?

This chap was also foraging but paused to watch us go by.DSCF2027

More logs, but you’d need a shallower draught than our 30” to get them – or a longer plank!DSCF2029

A little further on we passed Lyneal Wharf, home to the Lyneal Trust.DSCF2032

I was speaking to one of the volunteers last year, and he told me they were having a new boat built, to be called Lyneal Lady. She looks pretty good…DSCF2031

From here the woods around the meres start to flank the canal. This area, known a little optimistically as “North Shropshire’s Lake District”, is speckled with shallow lakes left behind when the ice retreated after the last Ice Age. Some are quite small, the largest, at 120 acres, is simply known as The Mere, and the town of Ellesmere sits alongside.

The canal runs between Cole Mere and Blake Mere, the former to the south and the latter to the north.

Cole Mere through the trees, with the sailing club on the far bankDSCF2036

Blake Mere

Ellesmere Tunnel passes through a ridge after Blake Mere, then it’s just over half a mile to the junction with the Ellesmere Arm.

Eighty-seven yard-long Ellesmere Tunnel

The Ellesmere Arm off to the right, the main line off to the left and Beech House, formerly the canal company headquarters on the left.DSCF2044

We turned down the arm, winded at the end and moored up about 200 yards from the terminus. Handy for our visitors tomorrow.

Hiya Jaq. Thanks for the comment. Hug to Mags passed on. You should be alright, it’s only going to be particularly cold over the weekend then is getting mild again – well, above zero, anyway! So any ice shouldn’t be too bad.  Keep well.

Locks 0, miles 4

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Moving on under grey skies.

On Saturday Richard and Ruth arrived on Mountbatten and Jellico, and turned around in the winding hole just up from us. It’s not easy doing a three point turn with two 70 foot narrowboats. First they breasted the boats up then shuffled the pair back and forth until they were round, before singling up again to head for the Whitchurch Arm.

Coming around…

…almost there…

…and heading back again singled up

We stayed here for the weekend, moving on yesterday. The weather has changed as predicted, gone are the frosty nights and clear, cold days. Now we’ve got grey skies and occasional drizzle. it’s a lot warmer, though.

The first obstacles to negotiate were the two Hassells Lift Bridges, No1 just around the corner and No2 a few hundred yards further on.

Approaching No1…

…and passing No2

There are fine moorings between bridges 37 and 38.DSCF2002

Nice and open, and there’re picnic tables and barbecue stands just around the corner.

We caught up with a single-hander at Tilstock Park, he was just leaving from the lift bridge as we arrived. He left us behind, then we gained again when he had to wait for the contractors working on Bridge 44.

They’re using a raft to make some brickwork repairs under the arch.DSCF2005

We kept up with the solo boater from here, and as we approached Morris Lift Bridge I hopped off and jogged up the towpath, telling him I’d get the bridge open for him.

Mags just coming past the other boat, not exactly as planned, but still…DSCF2007

See the rainbow? The sun had come out to the south, but it was still drizzly where we were. It was the first of several, and they only got better.DSCF2008


We moored just past the Prees Branch Junction, and the sun came out for a little while at least.

This morning we moved on a bit further, along the long straight across the mosses, and passing into Wales for a little while.

A straight mile of raised embankment carries the canal across Whixall MossDSCF2015

One of the few footpaths over the moss.


We stopped at Bettisfield Bridge for water and rubbish disposal, then pushed on for another three-quarters of a mile to moor on Hampton Bank, (back in England again) with fine views to the north…DSCF2022

…and south.
Must polish that tiller bar…

I got a load of wood chopped this afternoon, all being well we might be picking up some more logs tomorrow as we to Ellesmere.

Locks 0, miles 8

Friday, December 01, 2017

The last locks for a few days

Yesterday we came up the Grindley Brook locks, raising the canal just over 40 feet through three single chambers followed by a triple staircase.

Another bright morning after a frosty night.DSCF1981

Going up the singles…

…and then up the staircase.

The top of the staircase has a fine lock-keepers cottage alongside, but it’s no longer occupied by the lock-keeper.
We topped up the water tank and disposed of rubbish and recycling, then moved another 100 yards or so before mooring up. The locks took us just under an hour from bottom to top, so we had a pleasantly short day. Although it was sunny that cold wind was still with us, so Mags was glad to get inside near the fire. I told her I could manage on my own but she was having none of it. I was fine, the activity and a warm jacket keeping me toasty.

Meg stayed on board for the duration, I didn’t want her following me across lock gates as she’s still not 100%. Still improving day by day, though.

A hard frost last night showed -4° on the external thermometer, cold enough to leave ice on the canal in the winding hole above the locks. But the main channel remains clear. It’ll need to be a lot colder than that to freeze the flow down to Hurleston. And it’s getting mild again over the weekend and through next week.

Leaving this morning for another very short day, just up to the Whitchurch ArmDSCF1988

I was hoping to moor in the entrance channel of the arm, but there were boats there already, so we pulled around the corner instead. We didn’t even have to open the lift bridge ourselves, Annie, a boater we met last year up here, was off her boat and opened it for us.
We’ll probably stay here for the weekend now.

Hi Judith, Ade. Yes, Meg is certainly on the mend now. Still a little way to go before she’s back to chasing a ball, but we’re getting there.
Hiya Carol, it was a little too cold for shorts, even for me. But I change into them as soon as we stop. You know how warm it is in Magsworld!

Locks 6, miles 1½

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bright, breezy and bl**dy cold!

It was the wind that did it. Coming down from the north, cutting straight across the canal. And there’s not a lot to stop it on this section, as it passes through mainly flat pasture land.
It was about half-ten when we got away this morning, the frost had just started to melt in the watery sunshine. Church Lift Bridge was just a couple of minutes up the cut…DSCF1961

…followed by Wrenbury Lift Bridge.

The ABC hire fleet is all home, making it a little congested above the road bridge…DSCF1964

Fine open country, but that wind was whipping straight across!DSCF1967

With the two lift bridges done we were looking forward to four locks before we arrived at the bottom of Grindley Brook Locks. Marbury Lock has a series of “pissers”, jets of water through the lock wall draining cavities behind the brickwork.
A very good reason to keep side hatches closed when negotiating locks!

On the offside DSCF1968there’s a metal fence, an unusual addition on the lockside. Probably because of the proximity of the lock cottage. The horizontal bars are decorative though, with a barley-twist along the length.

It’s about 40 minutes from here to the next lock, Quoisley. But it took us quite a bit longer…
Don’t look a gift horse log in the mouth!


After loading up we moved on a bit, pulling in on a wide bit of towpath where the chippings from cutting them won’t be a nuisance. They were reduced in length, split, then stacked back on the roof. Being as we’d stopped anyway we decided to have a bite of lunch before moving on again.

Shade at Povey’s Lock, bright sunshine across the fieldsDSCF1973

Meg is back in her favourite spot

She seems to be improving day by day now. She was even eyeing up a ball this morning, but it’s a little early for chasing about.

There was another pile of logs a bit further on which I took advantage of, snaffling bits that didn’t need the attention of the chainsaw this time.

Approaching the bottom of Grindley Brook Locks where we pulled in for the night.DSCF1978

Up Grindley Brook tomorrow, then relax with no more locks for a bit. Plenty of lift bridges, though…

Locks 4, miles 5½