We’ve decided to head back down to Ellesmere to kill a bit of time before Easter. On the 3rd of April Seyella goes into the dry dock at Trevor for bottom blacking, so we’ve nearly 3 weeks and rather than hanging around the Chirk – Llangollen section we thought we’d go a bit further afield. The stoppage at Maestermyn House Bridge has now been lifted, so we’ve a clear route.
So we pulled out of Trevor on Sunday morning. We had intended to move on Saturday but by the time I’d been out with Meg, been up into Cefn Mawr for shopping and had a shower the weather was deteriorating so we stayed put. Oh, by the way, Meg is doing well now she’s been off the steroids for over a week and back onto the anti-inflammatory Metacam to control her arthritis pain. She’s still obviously a bit stiff, but she’s bright-eyed and wanting to play. Good news. And as the weather warms up she only get better.
I turned Seyella around in the basin, chatting to an optimistic angler as I did. I asked him if there was much to catch in the polluted, stagnant water of the arm, and he replied that he wasn’t that bothered, it was either the fishing or the decorating…
On the way out, under Bridge 29W, I got royally hooked up on the bottom. I’d moved too far to the right under the arch, and it’s very shallow on that side. Very, very shallow. We scrape the muddy bottom going through anyway, but this time it took 15 minutes of gentle forward and reverse and rocking from side to side to make headway.
Finally away and into deep-ish water as we thread our way out between the hire boats.
We had to hold for a couple of minutes as two boats came across the aqueduct and a day boat set off ahead of us.
It was a bit murky on the hills but the day at least stayed dry.
We topped up with water at the Fron end of the aqueduct, then carried on, stopping for the afternoon between Whitehouse Bridge and Whitehouse Tunnel.
Yesterday we stayed put, Richard on coal-boat Mountbatten was due in the afternoon, on his last trip up till after Easter, and we wanted a couple more bags of solid fuel and a diesel top-up.
The Admiral Class boats were built for the British Transport Commission (the forerunner of the British Waterways Board) in 1960 at Yarwood’s yard in Northwich, specifically with a shallow draught to because of the worsening condition of the waterways at that time. So Mountbatten is well suited to work on the Llangollen Canal… They’ve not got the most elegant lines but they did the job.
Today was forecast to be the best day of the week, so we decided to have a longer trip than our normal 1½-hours-to-charge-the-batteries day. Setting off at in glorious sunshine we had Whitehouse and Chirk Tunnels to pass, before crossing back into England over Chirk Aqueduct.
The south end of the tunnel, catching a bit of sunshine, is festooned with cobwebs made by opportunistic spiders hoping to catch the odd fly daft enough to drift in.
Past Chirk Marina and through the tunnel cutting, we had to pull over at Chirk Tunnel to allow a boat to come through heading north. There’s more boats about now as we approach the start of the cruising season.
Nobody else following so we went through, popping out into the sunshine at the other end to cross the River Ceiriog and the boarder on Chirk Aqueduct.
Leaving the rolling hills and valleys on the border then canal starts to move into the Shropshire Plain, once an inland sea and now fertile grazing land.
Crossing St Martins Moor is often a chore, with the prevailing wind blowing across the navigation. The locks at New Marton can be a nightmare if there’s a stiff wind. But today it was fine and calm, making life so much easier.
We topped off the water tank above the locks, then followed NB Duck’s Deluxe down. We had a stroke of luck, a CRT crew arrived to clear the bywash weirs, so we had help on the top lock.
New Marton Bottom Lock
Forty-five minutes after leaving the locks we were pulling in on the pleasant open moorings just past Maestermyn House Bridge, the one that’s been closed for repair.
It could almost be Spring…
We’ll stay here for a day or two as the weather goes downhill once again. we’re looking out over the sheep fields, no lambs here but there were some further back…
Locks 2, miles 8½