Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Back to Gledrid for a trip to the Docs.

We headed back upstream yesterday, through two tunnels and over one aqueduct into England.
Not such a good idea to put a couple of logs on the fire just before we set off for Whitehouse Tunnel…

We had to pause at the entrance to allow a boat out coming the other way, just as well, he’d have struggled to see if we’d have been first!

By the time we’d got to Chirk Tunnel the fire had settled down somewhat, and we emerged into bright sunshine to cross the aqueduct and into England.

We pulled in outside The Poacher’s at Gledrid Bridge, handy for a taxi pick-up for us to go to Ellesmere for Mags’ doctor’s appointment today.

Another fine sunset.

The doctor wasn’t at all happy with the latest blood test results, in fact they are a little worse. He’s pretty sure that there’s a blockage again, preventing her gall bladder from draining properly. It needs dealing with so he’s referred Mags to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital’s Gastroenterology Clinic. It’s an urgent referral so we should hear in the next few days. Wait and see time.

Not wanting to stay outside the pub on New Year’s Eve we moved on a mile or so, tying up on the towpath away from any noise. We’ll stay here for a couple of days, then head back upstream again for a coal delivery at the weekend.

So, all the best for 2020, thanks for sharing another year of travels with us. We look forward to you joining us next year. Don’t get (too) drunk!

Locks 0, miles 3¾

Sunday, December 29, 2019

There and back again…

We needed water but we’re not yet ready to head to Llangollen, so today we went across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, turned around and came back to fill with water, then returned to the moorings we’d left this morning.

Along another valley side, this time the Dee.

Whatever floats your boat.

Looks a bit wobbly to me…

First glimpse of the iconic aqueduct.

Two chaps in inflatables were milling about in the entrance to Fron Lift Bridge so I held off till they’d got themselves sorted out.

A right bend after the bridge takes the canal directly towards the river crossing, clear of traffic as we approached.

Welsh Hills…

…and the river Dee.

There were a lot of spectators to observe us turn around at the north end of the aqueduct, then we retraced our course.

Cefn Mawr railway viaduct is just visible in the downriver haze.

We filled the tank at the water point at the end of the permanent moorings, then negotiated the lift bridge, cruised back along the channel above the river and pulled in at the same spot we left earlier.

A better view of the railway viaduct through the wooded slope of the valley.

It’s been a fine, mild day, bringing out throngs of people on the towpath enjoying a lovely Sunday stroll. This evening the sunset was full of promise for tomorrow, too.

Locks 0, miles 4

Friday, December 27, 2019

A change of scene…

After spending the last few nights moored at Lion Quays it was time to move on. We had a great Christmas Day, we hope you did too. We were collected to go to Val and John’s for the day, good food and great company.

So under grey skies we set off this morning, passing the hotel moorings on the left.
They’re pretty silted up now, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone moored there.

The moorings near The Poacher’s were half full, plenty of room away from the pub, and those at Monks Bridge were completely empty, The handful of boats that have passed must have pushed on towards Llangollen.

After Gledrid Bridge the canal runs high above the Ceiriog Valley on the southern flank, until it turns sharp right to cross the river into Wales on Chirk Aqueduct.

The slightly later railway viaduct runs above and to the side.

At the northern end of the aqueduct there’s a basin then Chirk Tunnel takes the canal 460 yards past Chirk itself.

The tunnel cutting at the far end lasts for about ¾ of a mile before the slope levels out and Chirk Marina is passed on the left. We took a half-hour interlude here, pulling in to fill the diesel tank, before heading out and through Whitehouse Tunnel.

The flow coming down from Horseshoe Falls to feed Hurleston Reservoir makes it slow going crossing Chirk Aqueduct and through the tunnel. But here at Whitehouse tunnel the towpath is built over a water channel, supported on brick arches, which allows the displaced water to run back alongside the boat.

The construction makes progress considerably easier, and the same principal is used on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

We pulled in just beyond the tunnel on the mooring rings there with an all-weather surface on the towpath. We‘ve had enough of mud for a couple of days…

Locks 0, miles 4

Monday, December 23, 2019

Last trip before Christmas. Probably.

After a day off near Maestermyn yesterday we were on the move this morning at a quarter to ten. It was a dull grey start not at all like Saturday’s beautiful sunshine, and the wind had picked up too. But at least it wasn’t raining…

Negotiating the awkward turn under Maestermyn Bridge.

Just past the bridge and the Narrow Boat pub is Whittington Wharf, with most of the hire fleet tied up for the winter followed by a long line of permanent moorings.

Dredging and bank repair operations suspended for the holidays near Paddocks No1.

Lunchtime for Pattertwig

We arrived at New Marton Locks after an hour or so, with both locks full with top paddles left open. Grrr. Still, they could have left the top gate open too…

New Marton Bottom Lock…

…and the pretty Top Lock

Between the locks is tied one of CRT’s dredgers, looking a bit too fat to fit through.

For stability in operation it has removable pods on it’s flanks.

We filled with water above the locks then pushed on across a blustery St. Martin’s Moor, pulling in on the offside at Lion Quays at 1 o’clock.

A bit cooler than Saturday with only glimpses of the sun and a brisk breeze, but pleasant nonetheless.

We were hoping to hear the results of Mags' last Friday's blood test, but they've not yet been reviewed by the GP. So I'll ring again tomorrow. No news is good news, perhaps?

Locks 2, miles 4¾ 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A fine Winter Solstice Cruise

We left Ellesmere this morning, hopefully we won’t need to be back until we’re wending our way back to the Main Line next April.
After a chilly night the day dawned dry and bright with just a gentle breeze, perfect for a winter cruise.

Leaving the Ellesmere Arm

We topped up the water tank and disposed of rubbish and recycling at the wharf then pushed on towards the Welsh border.

As I said, a beautiful day…

I’ll be interested to see what these earth platforms are for when we head back…

Beautiful Canal Cottage next to Coachman’s Bridge.

I’m convinced Bridge 68 sports a number purloined from another canal…


Bridge 89 on the Montgomery no longer exists…

Past Frankton Junction and under Bridge 1W (West), for the first time this winter.

A mile further on we pulled in, just short of Maestermyn House Bridge.

It’s splendid here, open and sunny.

We’ll take a day out tomorrow then head on on Monday.

Christmas is the season of giving, so they say, right? Well, I guess Mags didn’t get the memo. On Thursday and Friday we went up to the surgery in Ellesmere for her to give a blood sample, and on both occasions they came up empty. The final solution was for us to get a referral to Shrewsbury Royal Hospital’s Phlebotomy Unit, where they finally managed to get a syringe full. Whew!
We’d tried unsuccessfully to get a taxi, to get there, but finally had to rely on our good friend Val to take us there and back. Thanks once again, chuck.

Now we have to wait till Monday to hear from the surgery and decide what the next step is, if there is one.

Locks 0, miles 4½  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Hanging about…

We had the weekend of the 7th and 8th at Frankton Junction, before heading back to Ellesmere last Wednesday.

Early morning at the junction…

It wasn’t all fine weather, we did have rain and wind but it was mainly mild, at least.
We chose a good day for the trip back though.

Down the arm for just one night for shopping, then we pulled out to top up with water and move out of town for a bit. But the wind got up and the rain started so we drifted across the junction and pulled in on the end of the moorings just outside the arm.

Cold clear nights have left ice on the water where the flow of the canal is very slow.

We were only going to stay there a night or two, but it was quieter than being on the arm and we had afternoon sunshine so we stayed put till today.

After filling the water tank we crunched through the thin ice on the arm and moored at the end near Tesco. Mags has another appointment for a blood sample tomorrow, then we’ll head off towards Trevor, probably Friday, maybe Saturday, depending on the weather.

Mags is still doing OK but the last bloods came back showing that she’s still a bit jaundiced. This sample should show if the situation is better or worse. If worse I expect that she’ll need a CT scan, but we can’t see that happening till January.
Fingers crossed.

Locks 0, miles 4

Friday, December 06, 2019

Bloodletting, tight bends and long views and waiting for the coalman.

We moved back to Ellesmere on Tuesday, managing to get on the last mooring at the end of the arm, just handy to be picked up to go up to the surgery to for Mags to give a blood sample.

Val and John drove over to do the honours to save us having to organise a taxi, then stayed for a brew and a biscuit afterwards.

The visit went well, the nurse who attended to Mags managed to get a respectable sample on the third attempt, some sort of record we think! Anyway we’re waiting till Monday before calling for the results. All being well the extended course of antibiotics will have resolved the problem.

So Wednesday afternoon saw us heading back out again, after a cold night cutting through a thin layer of ice on the water.
The main line doesn’t freeze as a rule, due to the flow coming down from Horseshoe Falls, but the dead-end arms like this one and that at Trevor, and the off-line marinas, can and often do.

We didn’t move very far, mooring for the night near the winding hole to the west of town.
Meg prefers a grassy towpath.

The weather has turned again now. The fine sunny days and frosty nights have given way to warmer damper and windier conditions as the high pressure is replaced by lows coming in from the Atlantic. We stayed put yesterday and today pulled pins and headed to Frankton Junction, a convenient place for a road delivery of fuel.

We had to put up with light rain for the first 20 minutes, but then the sky cleared and we had some fine sunshine for a while.

Starting to make an appearance at Stanks Bridge…

…and sunny on the other side!

Fine views as we wind around Val Hill

These lodges weren’t here last time…

Great views over the Shropshire Plain on one side and over the canal on the other.

We didn’t see a moving boat, a couple of moored ones, Yarwood moored at Frankton was one. But they were getting ready to move off as we arrived so we dropped into their vacated slot.

We’ll be here for the weekend now. Richard and Ruth should be delivering at some point.

Locks 0, miles 4