Thursday, 30 June 2011

Trevor, again

After a morning of wandering enjoying Llangollen and the River Dee it was time to do a bit of shopping. Llangollen is very 'touristy' but if you manage to look beyond that it is quite a nice place. At least it has managed to hang on to a few 'real' shops, very good butcher and greengrocer. Also an interesting deli. Not all boring shopping, nice new pair of earrings for me! After that it was time to start heading back to Trevor as our 48 hours was up.

Apart from having to go up to the basin to turn round the return journey was faster as the Llangollen Canal, being fed from the River Dee, has quite a fast flow on it. Apart from the minor interest of helping another boater who had run aground and nearly having a head on collision at a blind bend through a bridge we had a restful journey in watery sunshine. We were soon back at Trevor moored next to Kathy again.

We now have a quiet week of boring stuff like washing and maintenance before we head down the Montgomery Canal. We may head up to the Whitehouse Tunnel at the weekend.

Today's journey 4.7 miles

So far this year we have travelled 177.7 miles, 115 locks, 21 lift bridges and 3 tunnels.

Since Ray retired we have travelled 916.1 miles, 760 locks, 55 swing bridges, 25 lift bridges and 28 tunnels

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The end of the canal

Yesterday we completed our journey to Llangollen. Kathy, Scott, Kaia and Sarah (friend who is staying with them) came with us and then returned by bus. The canal seems to cling to the side of the hill for most of the route and in places is too narrow for two boats to pass so you have to send someone ahead to make sure the way is clear. We moored just before Llangollen Wharf, where the horse drawn boats operate from.

Horse-drawn boat on the Llangollen Canal

 British Waterways charge for the moorings here, but you do get a free electric hook-up which saves on diesel for charging the batteries so some of the cost is offset. Most boats don't take advantage of this as the hire-boats aren't supplied with a land-line for power. the maximum stay is 48 hours so we parted with our cash to the nice BW man.

The last stretch of the canal, even the horse-drawn boats don't do this bit!

The canal continues past Llangollen to the Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee but you cannot take a private boat the last couple of miles, it is even narrower and more shallow than the stretch from Trevor to here. I don't think we would make it even if it was allowed. the horse-drawn boats manage it as far as the Chain Bridge Hotel because they have a shallower draught than powered boats.

The Chain Bridge across the River Dee

The end of the Llangollen Canal
We took a walk up to the Horseshoe Falls this morning, enjoying the sunshine and the fabulous countryside, then spent the afternoon just wandering before returning to the boat. We did wonder about getting the steam train back but they appear to only do a 'round trip' fare for the entire seven miles of the line which would have been a bit expensive for a 'one-way' two mile journey.

The Horseshoe Falls

Tomorrow we will probably do a bit more wandering before heading back to Trevor.

Yesterday's journey 4.5 miles

So far this year we have travelled 173 miles, 115 locks 21 lift bridges and 3 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 911.4 miles, 760 locks, 55 swing bridges, 25 lift bridges and 28 tunnels

Thursday, 23 June 2011


I am confused! At the southern end of Chirk aqueduct there is a sign that says 'Welcome to England', at the northern end there is a sign that says 'Welcome to Wales', so where are you as you cross the aqueduct?

Looking across the Chirk aqueduct towards the tunnel

The railway viaduct towering above the Chirk Aqueduct

After you cross the aqueduct you enter the Chirk tunnel, after that it is a relatively straight run up through the Whitehouse tunnel to Irish Bridge. the canal then turns westwards to run parallel to the River Dee in the valley below before it turns north again to cross the Dee on the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. We moored before the aqueduct and walked into Trevor to meet up with Kathy as we weren't sure whether we would be able to moor near her. As she is moored at the end of the arm, so there is nowhere to go past her we were able to go back and fetch Morgan and Merlin and breast up next to Destiny.
Morgana crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

The view down into the Dee Valley from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

We will probably be here at Trevor for a few days, then we will head up to Llangollen, do a bit of sightseeing, turn round and come back.

Today's journey 4.2 miles, 1 lift bridge and 2 tunnels

So far this year we have travelled 168.5 miles, 115 locks, 21 lift bridges and 3 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 906.9 miles, 760 locks, 55 swing bridges, 25 lift bridges and 28 tunnels

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Onward to Wales, almost

Today we continued our journey in the "glorious summer weather" to Chirk Bank. The Montgomery Canal branches off to the south at Frankton Junction, we intend to explore that later. we carried on heading west and north following the Llangollen up through New Marton locks, the last on the canal. Most of the traffic was in the opposite direction to us as the hire boats from Whitchurch and Wrenbury were heading back towards their bases. There were queues to come down through the locks but nothing else going our way.

Apart from a couple of showers, and some very gusty wind it was a good day cruising. This afternoon we actually had some sunshine as we moored up at Chirk Bank.

Tomorrow we have the prospect of two tunnels and two aqueducts before we reach Trevor and meet up with Kathy and Co.

Today's journey 8 miles and 2 locks

So far this year we have travelled 164.3 miles, 115 locks, 20 lift bridges and 1 tunnel

Since Ray retired we have travelled 902.7 miles, 760 locks, 55 swing bridges, 24 lift bridges and 26 tunnels.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Midsummer's Day

What a contrast to last year! I can remember being up on the Aire and Calder sitting up all night, with our bonfire, watching the glow from the sun move slowly across the horizon between sunset and sunrise. Not this year!

After a day yesterday doing the washing, today we moved on up to Ellesmere where we stopped to check out the local services. we didn't need much except for potatoes but it is always worth knowing what is available if you need it. Whilst checking out the town we got absolutely soaked, then it was back to the boat for a spot of lunch before we moved on, topping up with water on the way as our tank was severely depleted after the washing and a bath last night.

The sky continued to be black and threatening so we only moved a short distance out into the countryside before mooring up. Then the rain came down again, then a bit of sunshine then more rain. Any hope of an outdoor celebration of midsummer was out of the question so it was just a brief indoor event with lots of candles and a nice meal.

Today's journey 3.2 miles and 1 tunnel

So far this year we have travelled 156.3 miles, 113 locks, 20 lift bridges and 1 tunnel

Since Ray retired we have travelled 894.7 miles, 758 locks, 55 swing bridges, 24 lift bridges and 26 tunnels

Sunday, 19 June 2011

New territory

Yesterday we strolled into Whitchurch to top up our supplies, there is a butcher there who sells a really good white pudding. Unfortunately my cheap coffee supply at Lidl was closed for refurbishment, we still have a couple of jars so we aren't going to suffer caffeine withdrawal.

We are now travelling previously unexplored (by us) canal. We waited until after the hirers would have returned to base at Viking Afloat before we set off, we didn't want to get caught up with any "racing to get back on time" boats. Like most the days so far the weather looked as if it could do anything so we decided we would go as far as the weather let us without getting wet. As it turned out we could still be cruising now, we had a few black clouds, but no rain. A pleasant day's cruising, if a little chill considering it is June.

A lazy day drifting beside green fields and wooded banks, very calm and peaceful. No locks, just a few lift bridges so an easy day. We eventually moored beside Blake Mere, just short of Ellesmere. A very nice spot, overlooking the lake, the only disadvantage is that there are lots of trees which means not a lot of light on my solar panels. The lack of locks meant I had time to finish the cabin lace I have been working on for the engine room porthole. So I now have a brand new, pristine curtain on the window.

My new cabin lace curtain

Monday is washing day so we will stay here tomorrow, besides that it is rather a nice back garden!

Today's journey 11.2 miles and 5 lift bridges.

So far this year we have travelled 153.1 miles, 113 locks and 20 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 891.5 miles, 758 locks, 55 swing bridges, 24 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Friday, 17 June 2011

Back at Whitchurch

The weather forecast for today was not very promising, it looked as if I would be very wet by the time we reached the top of Grindley Brook Locks. As it turned out the forecast was wrong, so unusual! It wasn't a nice day but it stayed dry all the way to Grindley Brook.  There were a few times when I thought our luck would desert us but despite delays due to heavy traffic on the canal the rain held off. Then we had a self impossed delay to top up with diesel from the garage at Grindley Brook, where they sell red diesel cheaper than the boatyards but you have to lug it to the boat in cans.

We got to the top of Grindley Brook locks with a slightly blocked weed filter and an engine threatening to overheat so we stopped to top up with water while the engine cooled and Ray cleared the weed filter. As the rain was just about holding off still, just a few spots we decided to carry on to the visitors moorings by the Whitchurch Arm. It is a nice spot there, about 20 minutes walk into the center of town but you can walk along the bit of  the arm that still exists and follow the old route of the canal most of the way to the town center.

Tomorrow is a no cruising day, time to shop and tidy up then Sunday will see us carrying on towards Ellesmere.

Today's journey 5.1 miles and 9 locks.

So far this year we have travelled 141.9 miles, 113 locks and 15 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 880.3 miles, 758 locks, 55 swing bridges, 19 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Lots of voles and a pheasant!

Yesterday we had a day enjoying the novelty of sunshine. The cats enjoyed themselves catching lots of voles and occasionally bringing live ones home for Ray and I to play with. I was not impressed when they managed to loose a live one on the boat, luckily they managed to recapture it later.

In the middle of the afternoon I heard a slight commotion on the bank and I looked out along the towpath to see a hen pheasant lying in the middle of it. She was still just about alive but beyond rescuing as her throat had been effectively cut. I did the kindest thing and broke her neck. I am a little confused as to the legalities. I know it is the closed season for hunting pheasants, does a pheasant killed by a cat count as roadkill, as it was my cat that killed her does that make me a poacher? I'm not saying that I did, but if I butchered and cooked it would I be breaking the law. Does pheasant casserole with leeks, mushrooms and bacon sound good?

Today we delayed setting off until the rain had stopped but I still got soaked at the top of the three Baddiley locks when another downpour caught us. There were lots of boats on the move, with queues at every lock but only one or two boats ahead of us each time. When we got to Wrenbury I took a stroll into the village to buy milk, leeks and mushrooms. Then it was time to stop the traffic at the lift bridge and carry on up through Marbury lock after which we decided to call it a day and moor before we reached Quoisley lock.

If the weather isn't too unkind we should get up through Grindley Brook tomorrow and hopefully reach Whitchurch.

Today's journey 5.6 miles, 4 locks and 2 lift bridges

So far this year we have travelled 136.8 miles, 104 locks and 15 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 875.2 miles, 749 locks, 55 swing bridges, 19 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

On the way to Llangollen

It was really nice not to think about moving the car or where I was going to park. I feel as if I know this part of the Shropshire Union almost as well as I know the Grand Union around Watford.

We made a reasonable start, back to Nantwich (again!), had a quick chat with Dave as we passed his mooring, he has acquired a mooring up at Northwich so by the time we pass through again he will have moved on. Then it was onwards to Hurleston Junction and on to the Llangollen Canal. We were fairly lucky with the Hurleston locks, they weren't too busy but we did meet boats coming down at three of the four which made life easier.

After a brief stop to do the usual rubbish dump and take on water we carried on through the two Swanley locks and moored out in the countryside between there and Baddiley. It is a nice spot here with just the cows for company on the other side of the canal, very quiet.

After a vaguely Thai influenced dinner of pork with veggies, pineapple and coconut milk I decanted the strawberry vodka that has been sitting aging for the past four or five weeks. We had to sample it, of course. It has worked quite well.

Today's journey 10.5 miles and 8 locks

So far this year we have travelled 131.2 miles, 100 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 869.6 miles, 745 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Monday, 13 June 2011

No more driving!!

Today was my last day of driving instead of cruising fo a couple of months at least.

Yesterday we stayed where we were because the weather was so awful, neither of us saw any point in getting soaked through. There were a few hardy, or foolish, folk who went past us. It wasn't just wet, it was windy and quite cold too, weeven lit the fire for a couple of hours.

We set off mid-morning for Audlem, me by car and Ray by boat. I met him at Hack Green locks to help him through there, then drove up to Audlem and walked back down to meet him below the bottom lock. Once we were turned round and facing back the way we had come we rang Barry to arrange to drop the car off.

After that we drove over, spent a pleasant afternoon chatting and drinking coffee, then Barry drove us back to Audlem.

Today's journey 5.3 miles and 2 locks

This year we have travelled 120.7 miles, 92 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 859.1 miles, 737 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Back in Nantwich

We got back to Nantwich in time for a late lunch today.

It was an advantage to go past Anglo-Welsh at Bunbury mid morning after the hirers had brought the boats back and before the new lot took them out. Pausing only to dump our bin bag at Calverley service we had a trouble free run back to Marsh Lane bridge. It was still very windy and there was one sharp shower but not too bad.

I did a quick supermarket trip to stock up before we leave the car at Barry's for the rest of the summer. We should get up to Audlem in the next couple of days depending on the weather, the forecast isn't very promising.

Today's journey 8.2 miles and 3 locks

So far this year we have travelled 115.4 miles, 90 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 853.8 miles, 735 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Friday, 10 June 2011

Flaming June

Today we had intended to get close to Nantwich and to start with it looked as if it would be no problem. We cruised from Tattenhall up to Beeston Iron Lock enjoying the sunshine. when we were filling Beeston Stone Lock the sky darkened and I could see flashes of lightening in the distance. By the time the lock had filled the wind was getting stronger and the sky darker so we decided to moor up.

The threatened rain never materialised but the wind would have made cruising less than pleasant.

I think the cats summoned up the weather so they could have more time to play. The girls gave us a scare this evening by disappearing until nearly ten o'clock. They are normally good about coming back, something to do with supper being at eight. Just when were were begining to get really worried Gwyn appeared and so we headed in the direction she came from and eventually found Nimue about half a mile down the towpath.

Tomorrow we will make it to Nantwich.

Today's journey 3.9 miles and 3 locks

This year we have travelled 107.2 miles, 87 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 845.6 miles, 732 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Thursday, 9 June 2011

More of Chester

We decided to hop on the bus and go back into Chester this morning. Nothing very exciting, just a visit to the '3' shop to amend my phone contract, a bit of shopping and then completing our circuit of the city walls. Ray did buy me a very unseasonable present of a remnant of fur fabric, just about enough for me to make myself a jacket.

When we returned to the boat we decided to move on so we could let the cats have a bit of freedom. Easy going as there weren't any locks but slow because there are so many moored boats, I think that one stretch here is the longest continuous lenghts of moored boats we have encoutered anywhere.

We eventually moored up just short of Tattenhall Marina, a bit noisy because of the closeness of the railway but nice countryside apart from that. Lousy internet signal here so this probably won't show up until a lot later.

Tomorrow we should get quite close to Nantwich.

Today's journey 5.2 miles

This year we have travelled 103.3 miles, 84 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 841.7 miles, 729 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Need more moorings!

We continued our journey back to Chester stopping enroute to look at the old dry dock which nestles between the Shropshire Union and the branch which take you down through three locks onto the River Dee at Tower Wharf. The branch to the Dee is rarely used these days. Thomas Telford's warehouse there is now a pub/restuarant.

The dry dock at Tower Wharf

The branch down the the River Dee

Thomas Telford's Wharehouse

Our plans for the day were thwarted by being unable to find a spot to moor in Chester so we had to carry on up the five locks that take you from the centre of Chester up to Christleton where we moored by The Old Trooper. At least we had the company of a couple of chaps from Edinburgh who were on holiday for three of the locks which meant less work for me.

Having a pub within staggering distance was too great a temptation so we decided to go for a beer and a bite to eat. Unfortunately, as it is a Harvester, the range of bitter was limited and the only one on the hand pump was off!! So a bottle of red was indulged in instead, the food was remarkably good with the only disapointment being the baby new potatoes. I know obesity is a problem in this country but if they were the babies I would hate to see the parents! Ray did comment that he has eaten smaller jacket spuds!

We will decide in the morning whether to get on the bus back into Chester or just to carry on our journey.

Today's journey 3.6 miles and 8 locks

This year we have travelled 98.1 miles, 84 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 836.5 miles, 729 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

There and Back Again (apologies to Tolkein)

Okay, so the title wasn't original but that is what we did yesterday.

We left our moorings late morning, got about 300 yards and had to stop because the weed filter was clogged and so the engine started to overheat. If I haven't mentioned it before our engine takes water from the canal to circulate round the engine to cool it then spits it back out into the canal, in the circuit is a weed filter, need I say more? The filter was block with grass cutting, water plants and mud, lovely!! Ray managed to clear it, mostly, but the water flow still wasn't as good as we normally expect. We managed the mile and a half, past the landscape of oil storage depots and refineries, up to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port, where we turned round and moored for a spot of lunch.

We didn't visit the museum as we were there only a few weeks ago at Easter. It is good to see so many old boats that have been 'rescued' but sad to see the state of some of them. At Easter there were also a lot of working boats visiting. It does give me and excuse to put some of my photos on here.

Gifford moored at Ellesmere Port

Unidentified Narrowboat negotiating Whitby Locks

Mossdale, in need of repair?

After lunch Ray had another look at the weed filter and removed a two foot length of canal weed that was partially blocking the pipe.

Then it was time to head back towards Chester, the weather was "changeable", sunshine one minute, then rain and even hailstones at one point. We moored for the night about half a mile before the Northgate Locks. Tomorrow I have to go into Chester again to change my mobile phone contract which I couldn't do until after Monday. We may complete our walk round the city walls if the weather is good. Depending on what we decide to do, we may overnight in Chester or we may start heading back towards Nantwich.

Today's journey 9.2 miles.

This year we have travelled 94.5 miles, 76 locks and 13 lift bridges.

Since Ray retired we have travelled 832.9 miles, 721 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Heading for Ellesmere Port

We have spent some time in Chester enjoying the sunshine (and showers). We walked most of the way round the city walls, we would have probably done the full circuit but my knee was aching and we were both getting hungry! The cats were feeling a bit "stir-crazy" as we had to keep them in so after a pleasant couple of days in Chester sightseeing and shopping it was time to carry on with our journey northwards towards Ellesmere Port today.

We made good time down through the Northgate staircase locks, they are a bit slow to fill and empty as they each only have one paddle. I was surprised how rural a lot of the canal is, I have done the journey by road and I remember it as a lot more urban. I think that the canal is screened from a lot of the housing and industry.  We stopped a little short of Ellesmere Port on the Shropshire Union Canal Society moorings so that we could let the cats have their freedom. They celebrated by catching several voles, two of which they brought on board to play with, still alive!! I was not impressed. We managed to "persuade" them to recapture them and take them back outside.

We indulged in an excellent dinner of 'Lamb and Black' (Welsh lamb stuffed with black pudding) and a nice bottle of red wine. Tomorrow is a day for doing the washing and some more of the painting on the outside of Morgana so we will be here another night. Then it will be down to Ellesmere Port for water, turn round and start heading back.

Today's journey 7.3 miles and 3 locks

This year we have travelled 85.3 miles, 76 locks and 13 lift bridges

Since Ray retired we have travelled 823.7 miles, 721 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The beautiful City of Chester

Yesterday ended up being a lazy day. We visited the market in the morning, excellent value on meat, fruit and veg. Unfortunately I had stocked up well before we left Nantwich but if the timing is right we might visit again on the return trip. After that we had a lazy afternoon, we decided not to move on as the weather looked as if it could change any moment. As it turned out it didn't rain but never mind. The cats enjoyed another day of freedom, they will probable not get an opportunity to run free for the next couple of days.

Today we moved on to Chester, after a few months of narrow locks I had forgotten just how heavy the lock gates on broad locks can be. We did meet up with a few people so I didn't have to do all the work on my own which was good. Apart from that it was an easy day's cruising, a bit slow at times as there are lots of moored boats on this stretch. We moored up only a short distance from the cathedral and are ready for a touristy day of sight seeing tomorrow. We did take a stroll through the city last night before dinner just to get our bearings.

Today's journey 10.8 miles and 8 locks.

This year we have travelled 78 miles and 76 locks.

Since Ray retired we have travelled 816.4 miles, 718 locks, 55 swing bridges, 17 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.