Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another four lift bridges, a bit of Welsh wood and some snow!

My new pressure relief valve arrived at Argos yesterday lunchtime, so I went up into Whitchurch to collect it, and set about fitting it. Then I had a whoops moment… the port for the pressure gauge was ¼ BSP and the spigot on the back of the gauge was ⅛ BSP. Bugger. Without a reducing bush or a blanking plug I couldn’t install the new valve, so I stripped, cleaned and lubricated the old one and stuck that back instead. It seems to work – mostly. But I’ve left the floor out of the aft cupboard so I can look down and read the gauge from the tiller. If it’s getting high I can manually release the pressure. A reducing bush is on it’s way…

So this morning we were on our way again. The weather is looking a bit dodgy now, but we really do want to be at Ellesmere for the weekend.

Back out through the entrance to the Whitchurch ArmIMG_3248

The hire base just past the main road bridge has the fleet at home.IMG_3252
As well as ABC boats there are a handful of “Yellow Perils”, from Viking Afloat.

My first lift bridge for the day, Hassels No1, was just around the corner.IMG_3253

Hassels No 2 is just a couple of hundred yards on, then there’s a pleasant couple of miles through mixed scenery to the next at Tilstock Park.IMG_3257

After Tilstock Park the land starts to fall away as the canal heads out to cross Whixall Moss. The three “mosses” that the canal passes through, Fenns, Whixall and Bettisfield, comprise the third largest area of lowland peat-bog in the UK. It’s designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a nature reserve, due to the rare species of flora and fauna found there.
Peat-cutting has now stopped to protect the eco-system, but some areas have been drained for agricultural use…

…but there’s still an awful lot in it’s natural state.

It was across here that the wind picked up and the first sleety shower blew over. My right cheek and ear went rapidly numb.

Morris’ Lift Bridge was the last today, and the worst.
It took 90 turns of the windlass to raise it, and 40 to lower it. Thankfully the sleet shower had cleared through, but the wind tried to keep us pinned to the offside bank.

I was thinking of stopping just past Whixall Moss Junction, the connection to the Prees Branch, but decided to press on while it remained dry.

The Prees Branch heads off to the south

The canal is flanked by a strip of woodland for the next mile or so anyway, which would have given me a bit of protection had another squall arrived, which also affected the decision.

If I can’t see you, you can’t see me…

It’s along here that the canal passes from England to Wales for a couple of miles, and also where I picked up a quantity of wood.IMG_3272
It doesn’t look much, but those round bits are 2 feet across and too thick to just split for the stove. The logs are about 5 foot, so there’s quite a bit there. It took some cutting up, I’ll tell you! I don’t know what it is, but so long as it burns I don’t care!

We pulled in just past Cornhill Bridge, still in Wales, and I just got the wood sorted when it started to rain which rapidly turned to snow. Lovely. It might be a bit grim tomorrow, but we’ve only a couple of hours and no locks or lift bridges to deal with, so I can hunker down on the tiller in my big coat and just plod on.

Locks 0, miles 7


Anonymous said...

The cut wood showing red is usually indicative of alder. Mike

ditchcrawler said...

The best thing about the canal at this time of the year is that with no leaves you can see the view, that and not so many boats about.

Geoff and Mags said...

Thanks Mike. It certainly burns extremely well!
Hi Ditchcrawler. Trouble is the leaves are in the cut, getting tangled around the prop! It seems quieter on here than in previous years. There's still only 5 boats here on the Ellesmere Arm.