Thursday, January 16, 2020

The extended version…

Well. Plan B started ok (see previous post), and we’re still on it, but it seems to be lasting longer than expected…

We returned to Franton Junction a week last Monday (the 6th), loaded up with coal from Richard on Tuesday then dropped down the locks to moor on the Weston Arm on Wednesday.

Frankton Locks down onto the Montgomery Canal

We did get to hear about Mags’ urgent appointment at the Royal Shrewsbury, it was for a consultation on the 9th of March! By then Mags would have been in a serious condition, she had no appetite so was rapidly losing weight, and she was dehydrated too. So I got onto Ellesmere surgery and arranged for a doctor to see her that (Wednesday) afternoon after we descended the locks.
The upshot of that was that we were collected by ambulance early Thursday morning, spent most of the day undergoing tests then Mags was admitted in the evening. Meanwhile I’d taxied to Enterprise, picked up a car, driven back to Lower Frankton to pick up Meg and returned to Mags.

On Friday I moved the boat on to Queens Head as planned, getting a taxi to take me back to Lower Frankton to collect the hire car.

Graham Palmer Lock

Queens Head, noisy but handy for the A5.

Since then she’s been on and off a drip to rehydrate, has had a scan to determine the problem and has had antibiotics to deal with an infection caused by the blockage in her bile duct. After a week in there, even though I’ve visited twice a day, she’s well pissed off. But all should change now. All being well, as I write this, she’s undergoing an ERCP (look it up…) a procedure that she had in November 2018 and which was very successful then. Hopefully it’ll be as effective this time.

They reckon she could be back aboard this weekend. It’ll take a few days to be completely well again, then she’s got to recover her strength, but with the blockage and associated infection dealt with she’ll start to eat properly.

Tomorrow I’m going cruising again, back to Lower Frankton to fill the water tank and get rid of rubbish, then returning to Queens Head. I’ll be back in time to shoot off to visit Mags again in the afternoon.

Locks 5, miles 4

Sunday, January 05, 2020

On to Plan B…

…or C, maybe even D! I said, back in December when we left Ellesmere for points west, that we wouldn’t be coming back until March. Well I was wrong and we are!
We’re still waiting for Mags’ appointment at Shrewsbury hospital, and with a delay to our coal delivery from Richard and Ruth we decided to change the location of the delivery to Frankton Locks then drop down onto the Montgomery Canal. Moorings at Queen’s Head are only 13 miles from Shrewsbury, straight down the A5, the closest approach by canal. So that’s the plan but it is subject to change…

With a day to spare we’ve headed up from Gledrid to Ellesmere to top up the cupboards before cruising back to Frankton Junction tomorrow.

First we had to reverse to the winding hole just down from The Poachers…

…then we were away.

Back down the two New Marton Locks.

A whole family of black sheep!

We pulled over at a regular spot near Maestermyn. Meg really prefers a grass towpath, she loves a good roll.

After a quiet night we were on the move this morning just before ten.

Looking over Broome Farm south into Shropshire.

The plastic cruiser moored just outside Ellesmere has succumbed to neglect…or collision.

We topped up the water tank and got rid of accumulated rubbish and recycling at the wharf, then moved off down the arm turned at the bottom then moored maybe half-way back to the main line.

Plenty of room on the Ellesmere Arm.

The canal company warehouse at the terminus.

Tomorrow as I mentioned we’ll head back to Frankton Junction, though the weather’s not going to be as kind as it has been these last two days.
The coal should arrive on Tuesday, then we’ve booked to drop down Frankton Locks on Wednesday. We’ll moor on the Weston Arm till we hear from the hospital, then move on to Queen’s Head.

Locks 2, miles13.

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