Monday, May 10, 2021

All the way up

We left it till last Wednesday before moving on from our mooring near Chirk Marina. With no definite plan in mind apart from filling with water below the aqueduct we didn’t know where we’d finish up. As it was we pulled in opposite the water taps, pinned in almost with sight of the spectacular structure.

Heading to Whitehouse Tunnel

Along the channel above the River Dee

I’d been looking to part company with John Sage, the bike I’d bought in Macclesfield when Mags was hospitalised following her stroke way back in 2012. I’d not used it for a while and it’s just been taking up space either on the frame mounted on the counter or on the roof, steadily deteriorating. Anyway a couple on the boat moored behind us spotted the for sale sign, had a brief test run and adopted it. Although it looked scruffy it was in full working order, and they got a bargain.

Friday dawned fine and dry, and after a lovely walk with Amber we set off towards Llangollen.

The classic shot of our shadow on the aqueduct.

I’d forgotten how beautiful the channel above the Dee is.

Shallow though. We had to tow one boat off the bottom at one point.

Passing through the narrows above the town we finished up tying up in the basin, the limit of navigation for powered boats.

One of the horse drawn trip boats working from Llangollen Wharf.

The last couple of times we’ve been here I‘ve not walked up to Horseshoe Falls, Meg not being fit enough for the the 3½ mile trip. But Amber is well able…

Pentre Felin

Chain Bridge

Horseshoe Falls, the source of the Llangollen Canal.

Looking upstream from Dee Bridge in Llangollen.

Today we left the basin, moving just half a mile to the linear moorings above the town. It’s closer for a bit of shopping from here. Not much, I’m keeping the cupboards and fridge and freezer light for when we go into Chirk Marina for blacking next week. We’ll be moving on tomorrow, probably back to Trevor.

Locks 0, miles 7

Monday, May 03, 2021

We’re in Wales!

For the first time since we joined the Llangollen last autumn we’re finally heading upstream to the top of the navigation! OK, we’ve made brief forays across the border to Chirk Tunnel to turn around, but they don’t really count.

So we did what we’d planned, turning around a week last Friday at Lion Quays and headed back towards Ellesmere.

Beautiful days but chilly nights

Full moon on the 26th.

We arrived back in Ellesmere a week ago and moored on the Ellesmere Arm, surprisingly empty.

Val and John came to see us on the Wednesday, and we enjoyed fish and chips for the chippy. Well up to their usual standard, both in quality and portion size!

With Mags’ pills finally collected an cupboards and fridge refilled we headed off westward again on Thursday, this time with the clear intent of getting up to Llangollen.

Around the bendy bits at Val Hill

With a lot of hire boats out and about I was dreading meeting something coming the other way here, several blind bridges to negotiate… But we got away with it, not coming across a convoy till Frankton Junction.

With overnight stops near Bridge 61 and again at St. Martins we crossed Chirk Aqueduct and through the tunnel on Saturday, pulling in to moor opposite Chirk Marina.

Farm cat’s lunch sorted near New Marton Locks.

Cutting north of Chirk Tunnel

With the weather looking dodgy for today and tomorrow, but better on Wednesday, it looks like we’ll leave it till then to cross the Dee on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and then onwards along the valley to the terminus.

Muscovy Duck yesterday… “Gimme some bread!”

Amber and I had a splendid walk first thing today, before the rain. Back to Chirk Tunnel but along the top of the cutting on the east side. Even the activity at the laminate factory couldn’t detract from the sounds and smells of the local fauna and flora preparing for summer. Lovely.

Amber had other things on her mind though, lots of squirrels to chase through the trees!  

Since last post – Locks 4, miles 21.5

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Ellesmere, then points west–for a little while.

We returned to Ellesmere last Sunday, shopping to be done and tanks to fill and empty as appropriate. We’d had a couple of days watching the boats going past near Prees Junction, then much of the same at Hampton Bank before heading back to the metropolis.

While we were on the moorings near the junction a large log came along, carried slowly downstream on the current. Enough wood there for a week or two once it had dried out. But despite my best efforts I couldn’t lift it out of the canal so finally gave up and left it roped the the bank.

At 4 feet long and 18 inches in diameter I worked out that it weighs in at around half a ton. No wonder I couldn’t retrieve it. I did think of a cunning plan later using the hydraulic Morris Lift Bridge a couple of hundred yards away, but it’s a bit busy on the water to tie up the bridge for a half-hour or so.

Moored at Hampton Bank

Anyway, as I mentioned, we toddled back to Ellesmere on Sunday, arriving soon after lunchtime and mooring opposite the service wharf.

Into the woods at Colemere

Our first ducklings this year, but we’ve spotted another couple of broods today.

Ellesmere Tunnel

Yesterday, having topped up the cupboards and being disappointed by the none-appearance of Mag’s prescription at the chemist (a cock-up at the surgery end, it transpires), we set off up towards the border.

We were planning to head all the way to Llangollen, but we’ll now have to return to town next week for Mag’s meds. Then we’ll try again.

We stopped near Frankton Junction last night, then continued on to moor above New Marton Locks today.

Another beautiful day…

If you going to meet a boat, inevitably it’s going to be at a bridge…

Helped up New Marton Bottom Lock

Moored above New Marton Locks after filling with water and loading half a dozen bags of solid fuel from the local coal merchant.

I know, it’s very warm at the moment, but we are talking English weather, aren’t we. Unpredictable doesn’t really do it justice. Any left come summer will be sheeted up and ready for the autumn.

New Marton Top Lock looking splendid in the sunshine

Coal boat Mounbatten and its’ sister Jellicoe, are in dry dock near Derby at the moment, and the uncertainty about the breach near Hurleston which may prevent them getting back to base has left us sourcing fuel elsewhere. At least we’re hardly using any diesel. At the moment the solar array provides us with more than enough power on a day to day basis.

We’ll probably turn around again near The Poachers at Gledrid, aiming to be back at Ellesmere (again!) next week.

Locks 2, miles 11

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

It's suddenly gotten busy!

 After several months of just seeing the odd boat chugging past, this afternoon has seen a convoy of hire boats heading upstream from Whitchurch Marina to points west. Of course, it’s the first stage of lockdown easing today, and self catering accommodation is now allowed. Boats fit into that category.

There’ll be an large increase in traffic now I expect, as private leisure craft owners can now also have extended trips.  

After a couple of nights on the mooring rings near Roundthorn Farm, during which we had a Tesco delivery (the first for ages!) and Amber and I had some splendid walks around Whixall and Fens Mosses, we cruised up to Tilstock Park today, turned around and returned to moor near Prees Junction.

It’s been a mixed bag of weather, a cold wind with snow and sleet showers, but with spells of warm sunshine too.

On the long straight across the moss last Friday.

A better day today as we left the moorings.

Morris Lift Bridge

Eighty-five turns of the windlass to raise it!

We were lucky to have this done for us by a boat coming the other way on Friday, but weren’t so lucky today.

With boats now allowed to move there’s been a steady stream passing westward towards Wales, mostly hirers, and a few going the other way. Those heading towards the Main Line are going to have their plans thwarted though…

Notice Alert

Llangollen Canal
Location: Between Bridge 3 and Bridge 4, Hurleston, Llangollen Canal
Starts At: Bridge 3, Martins Bridge
Ends At: Bridge 4, Lees Bridge
Up Stream Winding Hole: Stoneley Green Winding Hole, close to Bridge 10, Stoneley Green Bridge
Down Stream Winding Hole: Hurleston Junction

Monday 12 April 2021 13:00 until further notice

Type: Navigation Closure
Reason: Repair

Original message:

Please be advised navigation is closed between Bridge 3, Martins Bridge and Bridge 4, Lees Bridge on the Llangollen Canal due an issue with a culvert.

Stop planks are being installed and we will be dewatering this section of canal to enable our teams to complete the necessary investigations.

An update will be provided Friday 16 April.

You can view this notice and its map online here:

Just as lockdown eases and folk can get out and about the most popular cruising route on the network is closed. Typical.

Locks 0, miles 7½

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Just killing time…

Thanks Carol, we’ve taken your advice and confirmed that booking for hull blacking in Chirk Marina in the middle of next month. It’ll actually be good to spend a few days off the boat, I reckon.

So we’ve got a bit of time to kill now, shouldn’t be a problem, we seem to have spent the last 12 months mostly doing just that!

We moved down to Ellesmere last week and spent the Easter weekend there, then another couple of days waiting for that strong northerly to ease a bit. Such a shock after several fine, warm days to suddenly have a bitterly cold wind and snow!

Still, it was calmer yesterday (not calm, calmer…), so we pushed across to the services for sanitary arrangements then headed off downstream.

The Ellesmere Arm is only half-full, almost unknown for an Easter week. It’ll all change after this coming weekend though! The Glorious 12th has taken on a whole new meaning!

It was quite a dull day, just odd spells of sunshine but not enough to offset that wind.

Ellesmere Tunnel…

…and past Blake Mere.

This chap was looking smug in his best bib and tucker – off to impress the ladies no doubt!

We weren’t sure how far to go; I toyed with the idea of stopping on the rings above Hampton Bank Bridge, but we toddled on another 10 minutes and pulled in on the embankment instead. 

With the wind blowing straight in off the towpath it was somewhat interesting getting tied up… 

Worth it though, it’s sunny all day here. If there is any sun.

While we were in Ellesmere I picked up and installed a remote monitor for the solar controller. The hardest bit was running the comms cable back to the engine room.

As you can see, it’s sunny today. I won’t need to run the engine, the batteries were fully charged again by 11:00 this morning.

Amber met a playful 18 month old malamute called Tia this morning and had a whale of a time.

A couple of days here then we’ll push on to Whixhall Moss and Prees Junction to spend a little time there. Fabulous walks across the mosses that we both enjoy.

Locks 0, miles 5½