Thursday, November 18, 2021

Another update

 My posts recently have been weekly, or thereabouts. While there's nothing much happening I reckon they'll stay that way for a while.

So, we stayed just at the start of the Ellesmere Arm for a little longer than planned, but we moved across to the services on Monday to fill and empty before moving out a little way into the country. It seemed everyone else had the same idea, and it was nearly two o'clock by the time we'd got sorted. 

Consequently we didn't get very far, pulling in after just 15 minutes near the winding hole. It was a bit damp and gloomy anyway. 

Moored on Monday afternoon with a pair of swans for company.

We stayed here until today, enjoying the relative quiet, moving on later this morning.

Autumn has definitely arrived, there are more leaves in the water clogging the prop than are left on the trees!

We cruised slowly past the moored boats between bridges 60 and 61, then past the Tetchill visitor moorings, before we could speed up a little as we approached Val Hill.

Not too fast though, the batteries were getting a little low with all the idleness we've enjoyed these last few days, so extending the time we cruised by going slowly would give us a few extra amps. And anyway it was a pleasant day so what's to rush for!

The canal curls around the base of Val Hill, passing through three awkward blind bridges.


Interesting when the summer traffic is about!

We toddled on to Frankton Junction, where we interrupted a fisherman by reversing in to moor above the locks.

He wasn't too bothered though, and a mug of tea smoothed the way!

We'll have a couple of nights here.

You may have noticed that the photos are a bit sharper than they have been. My elderly and much abused Fuji camera has gone a little fuzzy, so I've pressed an old phone with a particularly good camera into service. Might even stick with it for a while. And I'm having to replace this laptop soon, it's starting to switch itself off unexpectedly. Yes, I have checked that the cooling vents are clear and the fans are working! The touch pad hasn't worked for ages, as well. I'll miss the old girl though. She's given me several years of service, upgraded through from Windows 7 to 10, and I installed more RAM and a 512Gb solid state drive a while ago. Shame she's getting a bit flakey. Good time to buy a new one though.

Locks 0, miles 3½ 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Not much to report.

 We've not done so much in the last few days, in fact a trip that would normally be a good day has taken us eight! Such is our winter cruising.

We picked up the Tesco delivery a week last Monday evening as planned, then on Tuesday pushed on to moor near Prees Junction for the night.

Morris Lift Bridge, the one that takes a shoulder-numbing 85 turns of the windlass to lift...

We would have stayed longer at the junction, there's access to several good walks from there, but the water tank was getting low so we had to move on again on Wednesday.

Into Wales, briefly

Topping up the tank in the sunshine at Bettisfield.

With a full tank we've a week before needing to find a tap again, so we cruised around to Hampton Bank and spent several days moored there, looking out over the Shropshire Plain.

The weather was a bit mixed, some pleasant sunny days and some windy damp ones. But I was able to do some paintwork repairs where I'd scraped the top of the swan's neck under New Mills Lift Bridge the other week. 

A few other smaller jobs kept me busy until we moved on up to Ellesmere yesterday (Wednesday).

Autumn has arrived near the meres...

We topped up the water tank, emptied the loo and got rid of accumulated rubbish and recycling at the wharf opposite the Ellesmere Arm, then pulled across to moor just outside the arm.

It's pleasant here, sunny when we have any and a little less footfall than down the arm. We'll be here for a few days I reckon.

Locks 0, miles 8½ 

Monday, November 01, 2021

Onward and Upward.

 I’ve been a little remiss, not posting for nearly a week, but in my defense the interweb has been a bit patchy…

Anyway, we came up the Grindley Brook Locks last Wednesday, not meeting a single boat in the three singles, but having to wait for a descending boat coming down the staircase. An easy run though, about an hour and a quarter all told.

Through the railway bridge below the locks.

Lock 5 the middle of the three singles…

…and coming up the triple staircase.

We filled and emptied above the locks and I was hoping to get moored on the rings but didn’t hold out much hope. A lot of boats were waiting here until Quoisley Lock was fixed, and several others were just lurking…

But one pulled out and headed for Whitchurch just as the tank filled, so we dived into the vacant slot.

The weather wasn’t conducive to cruising on Thursday, wet and very windy. Most everybody else thought so too. There was no-one coming up of course, and only a couple of hirers heading down.

By lunchtime on Friday the weather front had pushed through and the clouds started to thin so we pushed on, towards Whitchurch.

There are another three lift bridges to deal with just up the canal, the first next to the Whitchurch Arm junction and the others close together a half-mile further on. I got through the first two on my own, at the third a boat was coming the other way after I’d got the bridge up so their crew crossed over our counter to drop it after they’d gone through.

Lots of boats at the hire base at Whitchurch.

Several were from Wrenbury, they’d obviously arranged to leave them here rather than be late back because of the stoppage. 

But they’d be able to sort them out quickly, Quoisley Lock was fixed and re-opened at two o’clock that afternoon.

We toddled on in steadily improving weather, finally stopping in a sunny spot just past Duddleston Bridge.

Another weather front passed over through Saturday and into Sunday morning, but had cleared to blue skies by half eleven so we upped sticks and moved on.

We’ve a Tesco delivery organised at Roundthorn Bridge on the mosses for Monday evening, and I wanted to be there on Sunday to make sure we were handy to the walker’s car park there.

A fine afternoon…


Just one lift bridge to do, and that was lifted for me by a chap and his son out for a bike ride. As I approached the bridge he shouted from the towpath that he’d lift it for me if I threw him my windlass. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I obliged…

He put his son to work keeping up the family tradition. His father used to bring him down here to help the boaters too!

At one point I thought I was going to get wet, but luckily it blew over with only a few drops shed.

The squirrels were very active on the towpath, setting aside acorns for winter stores.

Not a good photo though.

We got tied up at Roundthorn Bridge before one, just where we wanted to be.

Locks 6, miles 6¼

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The kindness of strangers...

What was that famous line by Blanche DuBois? "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers" (A Streetcar Named Desire) 

Well, I don't depend on it, but I do appreciate it when it's offered!

There are three lift bridges in and around Wrenbury, and we set off yesterday morning towards the first, Church Lift Bridge.

As we approached a boat was coming from the other direction and the crew member on the bank crossed over the bridge, raised it and waved us through. 

Kindness #1.

Just along a bit is the mechanised Wrenbury Lift Bridge. It's been recently refurbished with automatic barriers and a towpath-side control pedestal. But it's still time consuming to operate single-handed, as I was yesterday. Mags wasn't 100% so I told her to stay inside.

I'd just got tied up and was waiting for a car to cross when a chap with a key in his hand offered to do it for me. I didn't decline...

 Kindness #2

Leaving the village the next bridge is at Wrenbury Frith. For a long time this on was locked in the open position but a couple of years ago a holiday chalet was opened alongside the canal and requiring access over the bridge. So now it's default position is down.

I'd tied up the fore end and was just winding the bridge up when the lady from the plant nursery beside the canal told me to go on through when the bridge was up and she would drop it for me. 

Kindness #3

I was pleased as the only bit of bank I could use to get off and on at the other side of the bridge was a bed of nettles... And I was in shorts!

It sort of restores your faith a little, doesn't it.

The day steadily brightened as we headed westward, a bit of blue sky appearing through the cloud. 

Some stretches of the canal are getting a bit overgrown with reed beds extending out from the offside bank.

There was a lot of water coming down the bywash at Marbury Lock...

I had to turn the lock, but these narrow locks are quick to slow and empty so it didn't take long.


We pulled in the moorings past Bridge 24, by this time in beautiful sunshine. With the solar panels tilted the batteries were soon topped off.

Later in the evening I was checking emails and this popped up - 

Please be advised navigation is currently closed at Quoisley Lock on the Llangollen Canal due to a lock gate failure.

Our local team and engineers have been to site and investigated the issue preventing the lock gate from operating. Whilst a method of repair is being organised, navigation will remain closed at Quoisley Lock, on the Llangollen Canal.

A further update will be provided Wednesday 27 October.

Ooh heck, that's the next lock!

We really need to get above to the services above Grindley Brook Locks in the next couple of days else we'll be washing in canal water!

So this morning I decided to move on to the bottom of the failed lock to see what the situation was. On the way we passed a boat coming the other way, a brief shouted conversation told me that they were assisting boats through while they got their gear sorted out. No messing about then, I headed for the lock post-haste.

They'd just let a boat out as we arrived and waved me forward. I untied a batch of stop-planks I'd towed up for them and was in with a rather broad smile on my face.

Still smiling when I took this picture...

The trolley jack is to lift the gate back up into position as they close it.

Leaving the lock I passed several boats waiting to go down, mostly hires. There are a few about it being half-term.

I thought about pulling in now that we'd passed the problem, but instead pushed on up Willeymoor and Povey's Locks to moor below Grindley Brook.

Povey's Lock

Between the two locks I was pleased to see that someone had cut back the bushes on the towpath side.

With the trees on the offside it was a slalom run last year!

We'll be heading up Grindley Brook Locks tomorrow.

Locks 4, miles 6¼   


CRT are starting on repairing Quoisley Lock tomorrow, an update will be issued on Friday. Good job we got through today!


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Heading on up

 As planned we stayed in Swanley Bridge Marina till Thursday, driving up to Yorkshire for our flu jabs on Tuesday then returning the hire car on Wednesday before leaving the marina.

 We didn't turn right to head up the canal immediately though, instead we went back to Burland Wharf to pick up a load of solid fuel from Richard and Ruth before they set off to deliver on the Shroppie. With the imminent stoppage on the Baddiley Locks they won't be able to get the boats up the Llangollen for a while and will have to deliver by road. So I thought I'd get a load on to take the pressure off a bit.  

Mountbatten and Jellicoe through Burland Bridge.

By the time we'd loaded and had a chat it was getting on for lunchtime so we turned around, cruised back past the marina then moored up below Swanley Bottom Lock.

We decided to stay put after we'd eaten, a decision which seemed good on waking up to a bright, sunny Friday.

But it wasn't to last and we had to put up with blustery showers as we ascended Swanley and Baddiley Locks. We had a good run, meeting boats coming down at most of the locks so were able to swap as we went up.

Baddiley No 2 Lock, due for major maintenance this winter.

After dealing with the locks we pushed on to Wrenbury pulling in just shy of Bridge 18. The main moorings are shaded by thick shrubbery but although it's a bit shallow here it's mainly clear of trees and the sun had come out.

We're moving on on Monday, heading towards Grindley Brook. We're taking the weekend off as we're both suffering from the effects of the flu jabs, Mags was running a temperature on Friday and I have sore shoulders from the flu and pneumonia jabs. We're in no rush anyway.

Locks 5, miles 4¾  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A grand day for a hold-up at Hurleston!

Friday morning started a bit gloomy, but by 10 the sky had cleared and it was bright and sunny. Just look at that sky as we left Barbridge!

Approaching the junction, with a boat heading up onto the Middlewich branch.

A few years ago the tap above the junction was removed, now the bin compound has gone too.

When we arrived at the bottom of Hurleston there was a boat waiting on the very limited lock landing so I hung about below the bottom lock until they were heading up. It took a long time to empty the lock, it turned out that the previous boat had left an unnoticed top paddle up.   
We'd just filled the top lock ourselves and a volunteer lock-keeper came down to ask us to just pull out of the chamber and tie up as there was a problem ahead. The boat preceding us was stuck in reverse gear so they were intending to haul it up the locks. But with traffic building above he wanted to drop a couple of boats down before we followed up.
With the already low pounds this left the broken-down boat stuck on the bottom, it took 5 of us to push it far enough out so it was floating again.

We did eventually reach the top to see a queue of 4 boats waiting at the top, and looking back another 6 or 7 waiting below.


  We moved on for another half hour before pulling in on our regular spot below Bridge 5.

Solar panels went up and we were fully charged by mid-afternoon. Lovely.

We're moving in to Swanley Bridge Marina tomorrow for three nights. The appointments that were cancelled by our doctors surgery 10 days ago are now rescheduled for Tuesday, so we'll be heading up to Yorkshire just for the day. Assuming they've got the flu vaccine in... 

Locks 4, miles 3


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Out of the boat park and back up the locks.

With visits done for the time being and the car going back on Tuesday (it was a very nice metallic blue Mini Cooper S Countryman...) it was time to leave the marina yesterday morning. It's been ok here, but it's not like being out on the cut.

With a gas bottle and both solid and liquid fuels required I pulled round onto the service wharf but couldn't find anyone to serve us. A phone call went unanswered, so, after 20 minutes, I untied and we set off for Chas Hardern's yard instead.

While we were hanging about a hirer out of Whitchurch came in for water so I helped them tie up and we had a chat about diesel use. They were worried that they might need some before getting back, I told them they'd be fine. Anyway, I said we'd wait for them at Wharton's Lock, the first up the cut, about an hour away. Just so long as another boat didn't intervene... 

Back past The Shady Oak

I'm sure it's busy in the summer, but at this time of year it's only open Thursday to Sunday.

I was just helping a boat down Wharton's when another did intervene, they'd passed the marina entrance before the hirers had made their exit, so we shared the lock with them instead.

Arriving when we were just about to leave they had the lock to themselves, but weren't put out by me taking another offer. We pulled in at Chas Hardern's and got all we needed, by which time our erstwhile lock partners had gone up Beeston Iron Lock (only one at a time in this one anyway) and the hirers had passed us too. I moved up to the lock landing and helped them up, then they insisted on helping me up as I was effectively single-handing. I was grateful, Iron Lock is a pain, having no ladders in the chamber.

Leaving Hardern's, all filled up.

We shared Beeston Stone Lock, with them insisting on doing the work, then we parted company as we were stopping above the lock while they were pressing on for a pint or two in Barbridge.

Two very splendid chaps, Damien and I think Richard

We moored in front of the boat we'd earlier shared Wharton's Lock with, and arranged to "do" the remaining ones together today.

So at 10 o'clock we set off in convoy, unfortunately following another couple of boats with crews that were earlier risers than us!

Waiting below Tilstone Lock.

Seyella and Tranquil in Tilstone Lock

It's only 15 minutes from here to Bunbury Locks, the two-chamber staircase which is the last one on the Chester Canal.

With the Anglo-Welsh hire base below it's always pretty congested here...

We'd caught up with the preceding boats so had to hang around till we could go up.

Coming up Bunbury Staircase Locks.

Taking our leave of the couple on NB Tranquil.

We pushed on, past the busy Calveley wharf, and on towards Barbridge. I'd intended to pull in on one side or the other of the junction with the Middlewich Branch, but a fine strip of grassy towpath just this side of Goodwin's Bridge looked inviting so we stopped there instead.

We'll be off up to Hurleston Junction tomorrow, up the locks onto the Llangollen.

Locks 6, miles 7½