Despite the uninspiring weather forecast today’s trip wasn’t as bad as expected. We had a couple of flurries of sleety rain, but we also had some good spells of sunshine too.
It was the wind which could have caused problems, but we were sheltered by high hedges and tree-lined banks for most of the trip.
Last night’s thin covering of snow had mostly melted this morning as we set off, just 10 minutes before we stopped again to fill with water and drop of the rubbish at Bettisfield Bridge.
The most likely stretch where the wind would have made it interesting was along Hampton Bank, where the canal is raised on a long embankment over the surrounding fields.
It wasn’t too bad, although some particularly vicious gusts pushed us over, and I wouldn’t have wanted to try to moor on the windward bank.
Not much further on we started to come into the shelter of the woods surrounding the meres, a series of lakes left behind by the retreat of the ice after the last Ice Age.
Lovely out of the wind…
…but the creaking of the trees could be heard over the engine…
There’s a low ridge at the western end of Blake Mere, penetrated by Ellesmere Tunnel.
At just 87 yards long it’s the shortest of the three encountered this side of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Patience is required through the tunnels, the flow in the opposite direction is increased in the constriction, but if you put too much power on to counter it you risk screwing the stern around into the tunnel wall. As it is you tend to go through crab-wise. Coming back is a doddle of course.
Ellesmere Junction, with the route to Llangollen and the terminus to the left, the Ellesmere Arm to the right.
We turned down the arm to moor, not worried about finding a spot here at this time of year…
…but surprised to see only two other boats!
I chugged gently to the end to turn around, getting considerable assistance by a sudden strengthening of the wind. Unfortunately the wind was accompanied by a sharp shower, by the time we turned around and moored Meg and I were wet for the first time today.
We’ll be here for the weekend now.
Locks 0, miles 5.