Saturday, 30 July 2011

We have been around here too long!

Today we carried on our journey to Nantwich.

We were just going through the first Hurleston Lock when I saw Chris and D'fer walking up the flight. I don't know if D'fer remembered me or just responds to his name being called because when I called him he came running up, tail wagging. Chris and his mate Rob, who he has been travelling with, helped us down the flight then we made coffee and spent some time catching up on what has been happening for the past 11 months.
We were keen to get to Nantwich as we were nearly out of bread and milk and Chris wanted to get on his way towards Chester so we went our separate ways, who knows when we will meet up again. He is planning to head for the South Oxford for the winter and we are heading for the Grand Union South.

We definitely spent too much time around here, we have been greeted by dog walkers and boaters like old friends. we even got recognised by someone in Morrisons! We didn't see any of my old work colleagues though.

Our plan is to stay here until Monday, then head up to the Coole Pilate moorings.

Today's journey 3.3 miles and 4 locks

So far this year we have travelled  233.5 miles, 152 locks, 31 lift bridges and 6 tunnels.

Since Ray retired we have travelled 971.9 miles, 797 locks, 55 swing bridges, 35 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

Friday, 29 July 2011

Our last night on the Llangollen

Today we continued our journey towards the junction with the Shroppie at Hurleston.
The day didn't start very well, I had walked down to prepare the lock while Ray untied Morgana, unfortunately he got overtaken by a hire boat while he was doing it so I had prepared the lock for them. I wasn't impressed at having to do the first lock of the day twice!

After that things went fairly smoothly, a bit slow because there were lots of boats on the move but we arrived at Hurleston late afternoon, decided to call it a day and go down through the Hurleston Locks tomorrow morning. Chris, who we travelled with last summer and bought Merlin from, is moored at the bottom of the flight, so it will be time for coffee and a catch up tomorrow morning. He is heading for Chester before turning round and going up the Llangollen.

Today's journey 10.3 miles, 8 locks and 2 lift bridges.

This year we have travelled 230.2 miles, 148 locks, 31 lift bridges and 6 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 968.6 miles, 793 locks, 55 swing bridges, 35 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Curry, wine and a late night

Yesterday we carried on down through Grindley Brook and onwards reaching Willeymoor Lock in the early afternoon. It took us over three hours to get down through the six locks, mainly due to the queue of boats waiting for passage but we did stop after the fifth lock to get cheap diesel from the Shell garage. It is at least 10p cheaper than any of the boatyards and 30.5p cheaper than the marina at Ellesmere.There is the inconvenience of lugging it back to the boat in cans rather than dispensing straight from the pump but on 80 litres the saving makes it worthwhile.

Once we were at Willeymoor we rang Barry and Alex as they had invited us for a meal. They collected us late afternoon and then it was back to their place for nice evening of beer, curry, wine and a late night chatting and catching up. I went to bed around midnight but Ray didn't make it to bed until about two.

After a lie-in this morning we got back to the boat early afternoon but neither of us felt like doing much so we stayed here and will move on tomorrow.

Yesterday's journey 2.5 miles and 7 locks

So far this year we have travelled 219.9 miles, 140 locks, 29 lift bridges and 6 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 958.3 miles, 785 locks, 55 swing bridges, 33 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Going north to head south

We have spent a pleasant few days moored here at Ellesmere, we actually got our barbecue out for the first time this year. Today it was time to part company with Kathy, although we will, hopefully, see her in between times, we probably won't cruise with her until at least this time next year. Our plans aren't fixed yet but we think we may head for the Kennet and Avon next spring.

After a lovely farewell lunch in the sunshine we headed off down the Llangollen to Whitchurch, heading basically northwards towards the junction with the Shropshire Union at Hurleston Locks. After an uneventful journey we moored opposite the 48 hour moorings at the Whitchurch Arm. Tomorrow we will head towards Grindley Brook and beyond to meet Barry and Alex for dinner.

Today's journey 12.5 miles, 5 lift bridges and 1 tunnel.

So far this year we have travelled 217.4 miles, 133 locks, 29 lift bridges and 6 tunnels.

Since Ray retired we have travelled 955.8 miles, 778 locks, 55 swing bridges, 33 lift bridges and 31 tunnels.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ellesmere and the rules of the cut!

After a busy day of wood cutting yesterday the roof of the boat is as full as it can be, so is the roof of Destiny. We had intended to move up through the top Aston lock to Queens Head but Gwyn went missing so we stayed where we were. Kathy moved Destiny up and just after she moored up she saw Gwyn on the bank, we think she must have been hunting near the lock, heard Destiny's engine and followed it.

We walked up to the pub to meet Kathy and some friends of hers for a drink, but we left Gwyn on board Destiny for the night and collected her this morning as we cruised past.

There were a lot of boats travelling both ways through Frankton Locks and it was well after two before we were all at the top. I feel sorry for the boats behind us as there were five more to come up after us.

When we eventually left the Montgomery matters were complicated by a boater who obviously hasn't read the Boaters Handbook or thinks the rules don't apply to him. Kathy had great difficulty exiting the Montgomery as Y-Not had moored opposite the junction (a big no, no). she was left without enough room to turn and although she engaged full throtlle in reverse she couldn't avoid hitting him. Understandably he wasn't happy but if he hadn't moored where he shouldn't he would not have got bumped. Her profuse apologies were apparently met with a blank stare. We only just made the turn and we are twenty foot shorter than her. Perhaps there should be the equivelent of the driving theory test for boaters!

After that is was an uneventful journey to Ellesmere where we saw Y-Not again moored at the end of the arm where the boats have to wind. Hope he didn't get bumped again by anyone!

Today's journey 7.3 miles and 6 locks

So far this year we have travelled 204.9 miles, 133 locks,  24 lift bridges and 5 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 943.3 miles, 778 locks, 55 swing bridges, 28 lift bridges and 30 tunnels

Monday, 18 July 2011

Heading back

Today it was time to head back towards Frankton Locks, I have booked passage for us all on Wednesday so we would have time to collect and cut lots of wood ready for the winter from the pile we saw on the way down.

Before we went anywhere we had to travel down to the winding hole to turn Morgana round then it was time to head back up through two of the three Aston locks to the woodpile! After a leisurely hour's cruise through the flower lined banks we reached our destination.

The swing bridge at the entrance to the disused Rednal basin

We spent a couple of hours collecting and cutting wood, tomorrow it will be more of the same then Wednesday will be a journey up through the locks and on to Ellesmere.

Todays journey 2.9 miles, 2 locks and 2 lift bridges

So far this year we have travelled 197.6 miles, 127 locks, 24 lift bridges and 5 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 936 miles, 772 locks, 55 swing bridges, 28 lift bridges and 30 tunnels

Sunday, 17 July 2011

What no water?

We have enjoyed a week of relaxing and exploring.

I ended up making bread on Monday as neither the farm shop nor Canal Central sell it, but I always have the makings of bread just in case so it wasn't a problem.

We took the "every two hours" bus service into Oswestry to get some shopping, I'm beginning to think I could walk further on a regular basis as buses are getting ridiculously expensive, £3.20 for a six mile round trip. Ray is definitely going to have to sort out his old codgers bus pass this winter!

Amongst our other exploring we went to St Winifred's Well, where a spring rises underneath a half-timbered cottage, formerly a courthouse now a holiday home. Very calm and peaceful.

Our major expedition of the week was to walk to Llanmymnech, which is where the Monty is "in water" again. It is a round trip of about eight miles, some of the towpath is good and some of it is fairly heavy going, at least as footpaths go, it is reasonably level.

At bridge 81, where the navigation ends for us, there is a board across the canal under the bridge to stop you going any further. The canal is in water for about another third of a mile.

You carry on past a nice new looking lift bridge, as it isn't numbered I suspect it is a new one not a replacement, probably put in to allow a farmer access to the other side of the canal now there is water in the way!

Shortly after that you reach the point where the water ends in a bed of reeds by a nice new road bridge and arrive at the stretch that is currently being restored.

The end of the water

Part of the section under restoration

The section currently being restored is just over a quarter of a mile long and the hope is that it will be rewatered next year. After that the canal bed alternates between being a dry nettle filled ditch and a damp reed filled ditch for the next three miles. It's path is still clearly visible, and most of the bridges appear to be intact but there is a huge amount of work to do before there is any hope of the canal being re-opened. The remains of an old wharf where limestone used to be loaded can still clearly be seen. Eventually we reached the water again just before reaching Llanymynech.

A bridge across a ditch!

The remains of the old wharf

Water again!

We completed our walk to Llanymynech and the Welsh border where we stopped at the visitor center for a coffee. The England/Wales border runs down the main road there, some of the houses are in England but as soon as people step out of their front doors they are in Wales. In the days when all Welsh pubs were closed on a Sunday there was one pub that had it's front bar in Wales and it's back bar in England so everyone used to drink in the back bar on Sundays!

After our coffee it was time for the four and a bit mile trek home, we arrived back tired but glad we had made the trip.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Not quite the end

We carried on down the Monty to Maesbury Marsh today, not quite the end of the navigable stretch but close to. Kathy and I took a walk to Gronwen Bridge, which is where you have to turn round and come back. We  are on a 48 hour mooring at the moment but there are spots to moor between here and the end which are derestricted so we will move a little over the next couple of days.

From Queen's Head to here there are far more spots to moor. we spotted a "chainsaw opportunity", a pile of dead wood beside the towpath, if that is still there on our way back it will get cut up and be on our roofs drying for the winter.

Our plans are flexible for this week, some walking, some washing and hopping on the bus to Oswestry for some shopping. There is an excellent farm shop here so fruit and veg isn't a problem and Canal Central is a cafe which also stocks some groceries but if we are not going to be back at Ellesmere until about Wednesday next week we will need some other bits. Kathy needs to get shoes and stuff for the kids anyway as they are going to a wedding on Saturday.

Today's journey 2.2 miles and 3 locks

So far this year we have travelled 194.7 miles, 125 locks 22 lift bridges and 5 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 933.1 miles, 770 locks, 55 swing bridges, 26 lift bridges and 30 tunnels

Saturday, 9 July 2011

I love Monty!

My phone call this morning managed to secure us passage through the Frankton Locks onto the Montgomery Canal. Luckily there was a small narrowboat in the queue to go down so we were able to get Scott's little fibreglass cruiser sharing the locks with that so it wasn't too bad.

It is a good job that we have to turn round and come back the same way as my camera battery is flat so I haven't got any pictures yet, this is such a pretty canal. It is so peaceful. BW only let about 8 boats per day through the locks and as it is possible to get all the way to the end in one day a lot of people come down one day, back to the lock flight the next and back up on the third. we intend to spend about ten days down here so we can go exploring the length of canal that is being restored but isn't navigable at the moment.

Much of the canal passes through a nature reserve and there is a huge variety of wild life. I have definitely fallen in love with the Monty.

We moored for the night at Queen's Head, opposite the pub of the same name. The only bad thing about this canal is the lack of mooring spots, but I'm told it is easier to find places further down. On the stretch we went through today the reeds are very thick which would make getting into the bank hard and what we could see of the bank didn't look very stable.

Another day without internet signal but this will appear eventually!

Today's journey 5.3 miles and 5 locks

So far this year we have travelled 192.5 miles, 122 locks, 22 lift bridges and 5 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 930.9 miles, 767 locks, 55 swing bridges, 26 lift bridges and 30 tunnels.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Back to England

Last night Kathy's cat, Molly, gave birth to five kittens. We saw the first three born before we headed off to bed and she had another two overnight.

We headed back into England today, re-tracing our course past Chirk and across the aqueduct. A stop at Chirk Marina for diesel left me soaked to the skin as the glorious summer weather continued (not!) and trying to turn the boat around in the wind to get back out of the marina took three times as long as normal.

Sadly, one of Scott's guinea pigs died today, very sad. It hadn't shown any signs of being ill. We stopped at a pretty spot just before we reached Maestermyn and buried her beside the towpath. We decided to stop here for the night. I'm going to ring BW in the morning to see if we can book to go onto the Montgomery Canal tomorrow lunchtime. It could be fun negotiating the lock flight, only four locks but just three of us to handle the boats and the locks as Scott and Kaia are away for the weekend.

This probably won't appear for a couple of day's as I have no internet signal.

Today's journey 7.5 miles, 2 locks and 2 tunnels

So far this year we have travelled  187.2 miles, 117 locks, 22 lift bridges and 5 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 925.6 miles, 762 locks, 55 swing bridges, 26 lift bridges and 30 tunnels

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A little bit further

Yesterday we moved from Trevor down to the Whitehouse Tunnel. I think I probably walked further than I cruised as I was dispatched to take photos of the boats going over the aqueduct. Whilst waiting for Ray and Kathy to go across I spotted this boat and awarded the"Idiot of the Week" to the person standing on the gunnel. Standing on a five inch wide ledge, holding on with one hand, the other hand in your pocket with only an approximately eight inch wide metal edge between yourself and a 126 foot drop onto the rocks and the River Dee below you is just plain stupid. Even the most experienced boaters get caught by gusts of wind crossing the aqueduct and it just takes one bump!

Ray and Kathy made their way sensibly across.


Ray with Morgana and Merlin

Kathy with Destiny

We aren't planning on travelling very far this week as Kathy has a busy week with family and friends and the weather forecast is lousy, so it will probably be at least Saturday before we go down onto the Montgomery Canal even though it is less than a day's journey

Yesterday's journey 2 miles and 1 lift bridge

So far this year we have travelled 179.7 miles, 115 locks, 22 lift bridges and 3 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 918.1 miles, 760 locks, 55 swing bridges, 26 lift bridges and 28 tunnels