Thursday, 26 March 2015

Thursday 26 March 2015 Ellesmere

Boy did it rain last night, started just before we went to bed and didn’t stop until nearly 9am. We had ¼” all told.

We set off just after 10am in the sunshine, but the wind had freshened over night and has continued to freshen all day with gusts of over 30 mph at boat height. We didn’t have a spot of rain until we reached Ellesmere where there were a few spots just as we moored up, I expected more.

I have never seen painted Chimney pots before but there was a row of three outside this house in Crick. I thought they looked quite good.DSCF8321

Right beside bridge 21W Monks Bridge there are a clutch of goose eggs, but I suspect these are a last years nest that has been uncovered. There are about 8 large white geese that live near the bridge.

As a contrast to the old aqueduct and railway viaduct a new road viaduct carries the A5 across the valley and River Ceiriog which forms the English/Welsh boarder.DSCF8323

The other day I posted about the electricity company running new overhead cables and erecting new pylons, I have never seen pylons like this before, I suppose they are poles really and not pylons, but I have never seen poles with insulators stacked onDSCF8327 them before. The helicopter is a police helicopter and they can always bee seen flying round here, when we came up one was hovering a few feet above the Ellesmere College playing field.

At New Marton Top Lock There was a Sea & Land work tug pushing a dredger waiting to go into the lock and behind him a hire boat so it seemed like a good opportunity to stop and fill with water, even if a second hire boat appeared in the meantime. We followed the second hire boat down and were amazed to see New Marton Bottom Lock open as we approached and no boat coming out. It turned it was the crew of nb. Muleless who were moored a short way below the lock, they had seen people struggling to pick up their crew in the wind so thought they would walk up and offer a hand. So not all CC’s are bad like some people would have you think. Muleless is an electric hybrid boat, so quite inivitive.DSCF8329

I have posted a few pictures of “Turnover” or “Snake” Bridges this trip well here is another one with quite a tight turn round on the ramp leading under the bridge, it is bridge 6W Polletts Bridge.DSCF8330

As you approach Frankton Junction you pass under bridge 1W, about 100 yards ahead of you is bridge 69. (just visible in the photograph below)DSCF8331 On this canal the bridges are numbered from Hurleston Junction as far as Frankton Junction then the numbering starts again with a W after the number from here to number 49W at Horseshoe Falls where the canal is fed from the River Dee, but you can only navigate to between bridges 45W and 46W.

We carried on with a view to mooring down the Ellesmere Branch for the night where we were lucky enough to find a mooring, I really didn’t want to be moored under trees in this weather. We followed a boat down the Branch who pulled into the first space, but there was a second a bit further down that suited us nicely.

Today’s Journeymap 20 10½ Miles. 2 Locks. 2 Junctions in 4 hrs 10 min.

Again, like last night I am able to connect to a BT Hotspot using my Solwise Rocket WiFi antenna and it only cost just over £20, the only down side is you have to connect it via a USB so cant use it with more than one item or an I pad. The nearest house is several hundred yards away, O an I have choice of 5 BT connections, I am even getting a signal from The White Heart over 300 yards away.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wednesday 25 March 2015 Chirk Bank

Last night after we had moored up “Jones The Boat”, trip boat came passed, about half an hour later it came back through the bridge backwards. They had just dropped their passengers off at The Sun and it is quicker for them to reverse along the canal to the winding hole than go on to the next one to turn round.

Later that evening we went over to The Sun for a meal and a pint, they had a very welcoming fire and are a dog friendly pub. We had not been sat there long when Mr Jones of Jones The Boat and his wife came in and sat at the next table and got chatting to us. I mentioned the problem getting into Trevor Basin and he said he goes after them and get them moved. Things were better today when we passed as they have left a passage through.DSCF8314

The moorings were not as bad as I feared last night and the road quietened down from about midnight through till 6 am. so we had a reasonable nights sleep but we did set off a bit earlier than normal at 9 30 am., even so there had been a steady stream of boats coming down since about 7 am.

The canal between here and Llangollen has a couple of very narrow stretches. The first has a passing place and from thereDSCF8306 you can see the far end of the narrows, even so I had two boats come in at the top when I was within 100 yard of the end. I found the channel very slow going against the flow so I don’t know how the deep boats get on.

As I said the other day Llangollen charges for visitor moorings, however they will let you stay for 4 hours free of charge if you DSCF8309leave by 5 30 pm,  but we had no great desire to visit the town as we have been there several times before. As it turned out they don’t start charging until April so we could of stayed free of charge for the night. A short way passed this sign we past a friend of ours who has been moored here for the winter, he was just buying coal and gas so we offered to transport it back to his boat for him, but first we had to go to the head of navigation DSCF8311and wind in the basin which British waterways dug out and filled with pontoons to accommodate all the summer visitors who wish to stay overnight.DSCF8310 As we headed back down stream we picked up Steve, his gas and coal and transported them all back down to his boat. Luckily the boat moored in front of them for the winter had already escaped so we were able to moor there before going onboard Justice to meet Steve’s wife, put the canal world to right and drink coffee. It was almost 2 pm before we left them. Needless to say there was a boat about to come up the narrows so we had to wait for them, his advice was to leave Llangollen at 12-30 right behind the trip boat and that way you get straight through.

It wasn't long before the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct came into view DSCF8313

and as we crossed the sun shone, unlike yesterday when it kept trying to rain. I wonder how long it will be before CRT want to put a handrail along the offside of this aqueduct as well. Some of the handrail on the tow path side look as if they are held in with  yellow PVC tape.DSCF8316 After this we had a good run down with no hold ups, straight through both tunnels and the Chirk aqueduct. You can see here quite plainly the offside edge where CRT plan to install railings to stop people falling off. There are already signs telling you to keep off but that is not enough in this day and age.DSCF8320

On the way we passed the Kronospan factory that I posted a photo of steaming yesterday, they use timber to make things like MDF and other laments.DSCF8317 We decided to moor for the night on the 48 hr moorings at Chirk Bank as by now it was 5 pm. and this is the first spot we have stopped this trip with no 3 mobile internet service, however with my external Wi-Fi  aerial receiver I am able to log on to a local BT hotspot.

Today’s Journeymap 19

10½ miles, 2 Tunnels, 2 Aqueducts in 4¾ hours

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tuesday 24 March 2015 The Sun at Trevor

Yesterday I posted a picture of a pair of geese and asked if they were likely to breed, I was told its quite common pointing me to this web site where you will find this photograph.gray canada

Again a hard frost last night with everywhere white first thing this morning, we set off at our normal 10 am and caught up with a hire boat at New Martin bottom lock, we thought they would have been further as we had already met a boat so assumed the locks would be with them, but there must have been someone a short way ahead as both bottom and top were against them. The electricity company were busy installing new poles and overhead high voltage cables.DSCF8292

The weather was very changeable a bit of rain some sun shine and even a hail shower, so at times it was quite cool and others warm. There are a lot more boats about today, mostly hire boats but we have met a couple of private ones. We were again clocked by a CRT operative checking movements and licences.

With the changeable weather this group of trees were nicely light against the distant darker clouds on the hill side.DSCF8293

We rounded the bend under bridge 17W to find our path blocked,DSCF8297 but almost immediately the tug driver waved us through and with the digger pulling him over we were directed to go round the off side, ¾ of us managed it before we were hard aground so the digger driver just slid the tug and flat forward so we could slide off sideways (with the aid of a shaft) into deeper water.

Looking across the valley we could see a large amount of steamDSCF8300 venting into the sky, I then remembered there was a wood pulp works near Chirk which we would pass close by later.
Just as we approached Chirk Aqueduct it started to rain, DSCF8302 I understand there are plans to put railings along the offside to stop people falling off, I am not sure how many have actually fallen off in the last 200 years but some people are just dafter these days. We had just started crossing when a boat emerged from the tunnel at the far side, so that was good timing and about ¾ of the way across a second boat came out of the tunnel and waited behind him, which was also handy, as when we reached the far side the tunnel was clear and we could go straight through. Passage across the aqueduct and through the tunnel in this direction is quite slow as you are pushing against the current in a very narrow channel. By the time we cleared the tunnel there was a boat waiting to come through, unfortunately for him, just as we came out another came in at the other end.

It wasn’t long before we were on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with its straight drop on the off side. We had planned to moor in Trevor Basin for the night, but the hire company had other ideas and had completely filled the entrance to the basin with their hireDSCF8303 boats, the visitor moorings are at the far end behind this blockade. It looks like a gap on the right but there is a boat on that side in the second row. This meant we had to turn very sharp left and up the feeder towards Llangollen, something we planed to do tomorrow. mooring on this are is difficult except at designated moorings as the canal is in a concrete channel. The first moorings are opposite The Sun at Trevor so that is where we have stopped. The only downside is that the A539 runs between the canal and the pub so its a bit noisy.

On a lot of busy visitor moorings you get gaps between the boats because for some reason a lot of people don’t like tying to a ring that is already in use, the result is you only get 5 boats where there is room for 6, an important issue on a busy canal like this in areas with limited moorings. Whoever installed these moorings thought about that problem and put two rings on each anchor point, so you don’t need to share rings.DSCF8305

Today’s Journey map 18 12 miles, 2 locks, 2 tunnels, 2 Aqueducts and 1 junction in 5¼ hours.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Monday 23 March 2015 Whittington

Lovely mooring last night, laid in bed listening to an Owl before going to sleep. We woke to bright sun this morning but it didn’t last with the odd flurries of very light drizzle, cool breeze and occasional sunshine, still much better than forecast.

We pushed off at 10 30 am. and it wasn’t long before we passed two pairs of geese, if this pair do breed I wonder what their offspring look like. The other pair were true Canada Geese.DSCF8264

There must have been some good storms this winter around here looking at the damage done to this very large tree, there was another near it completely uprooted.DSCF8265

Then it was into Ellesmere Tunnel, only 87 yards long but quite slow going up stream. We were accompanied through by a party of ramblers.DSCF8268 

At the junction we turned hard right down to the town of Ellesmere to replenish supplies. There is now a Tesco Store located very conveniently at the end of the arm and I suspect like many other boaters we didn’t venture into the town. I do feel that Tesco and the planners have made a good compromise with the design of the store for its location, it could have looked a lot worse.DSCF8273 Now we just need the warehouse on the opposite side of the basin restoring. One observation is that I think it was probably the quietest Tesco I have ever been in, so will it last?

After shopping and eating lunch we winded at the end of the arm, I am not sure how easy this would be if there were boats moored right to the very end, retraced our steps to the junction and stopped yet again at the old dry dock/maintenance yard to fill with water, here we had a choice of 4 taps. The maintenance yard is a listed structure and still used by the canal and Rivers Trust, they also ret out the dry dock to boaters for DIY blacking and painting. The large white fenders are in the mouth of the dry dock.DSCF8280

There is a notice at the water point suggesting you catch a bus into Llangollen, maybe CRT don’t want us boaters going up there, we no longer stay overnight as they now charge for mooring.DSCF8284

We had just finished filling with water and pushed off when the working boat Mountbatten came round the corner. She now trades on the Llangollen and should do quite well when the boat yards up here sell diesel at 95+p and they sell it for 72 p/lt.DSCF8286

This must be the most photographed parking meter in the country, I can’t even think where to go to buy one, maybe he worked for the company that was replacing them and got it that way.DSCF8289

We decided not to go down the Montgomery Canal this time, DSCF8290we have been down several times and you have to give CRT at least 48 hrs notice to go down. as they only allow 12 boats a day. We carried straight on past the Maestermyn hire base to moor for the night with only sheep and lambs for company just before bridge 7W, another SUCS 48 hr mooring.

As you are able to read this blog tonight I must say that the 3 mobile internet coverage has improved since last time we were this way.

Today’s Journeymap 17 7¾ Miles, 2 Junctions, 1 arm in 3½ hours.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday 22 march 2015 Cole Mere

We had had two boats pass us by 7 am this morning and the first was going much faster than he should have been. If we had been moored on pins they would certainly have come out. At 7 am everywhere was still white with last nights frost. After this early call we were away at 9 30 am. Second in a queue of 4 to go up Grindley Brook after a single boat came down. i managed to go aground in the middle of the staircase so Diana had to let a drop more water down so I could get over the cill. As the boat came up I let a bit more water down from the top so we left it at the right level.DSCF8246 We encountered the first manual lift bridge that we had to operate just before the Junction with the Whitchurch Arm, moored just before the bridge was nb. Muleless. If you are travelling south its very difficult to turn into the arm, due to theDSCF8247 acute angle, so you have to go another 500 yard to the winding hole and turn round to approach from the opposite direction. 

The lift bridges used to be opened by hauling on a chain attached to the top arm like you do for some on the Oxford Canal, but now they are all fitted with a hydraulic ram and a hand operated rotary pump the same as on the hydraulic lock paddles.DSCF8250

At Whixall Moss Junction we turned left down the Prees Arm, we have never bothered to come down here before. The arm now ends at Whixall Marina, but it never did get as far as Prees, only to  Quina Brook.DSCF8258 The arm is still in water running off to the top left of the photo.

The house on the junction has a very bright flower display each side of the front gate, I am not sure how they got them into bloom so early.DSCF8256

We winded in the marina and retraced or steps through the two lift bridges and back to the junction where we carried on up the Llangollen canal. The only point of real interest was at Hampton Bank where just before the bridge the bottom got hold of me and held the stern in. I stopped and moved out only to see a boat about to enter Hampton Bank Bridge. So I held my position and waved him through on the wrong side. The only problem was a hire boat following who I signalled to stop, which he did. The boat coming the other way passed me fine but he was then unable to steer round the bend, same problem I had and ended up tangled with the hire boat. We carried on a bit further to the 48 hr moorings at Cole Mere just before bridge 55.

Here opposite the moorings someone has put up a notice saying “Private Mooring please don’t moor opposite” which is where the rings are for the 48 hour moorings. Not a problem now as there is loads of space, but I could see problems in the summer.

Today’s Journeymap 16 13¾ Miles, 6 locks including a staircase of 3, 8 lift bridges, 2 junctions in just over 6½ hours

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Saturday 21 March 2015 Grindley Brook

Set off a few minutes passed 10 to give the boat ahead a good start in bright sunshine, however the wind was a bit chilly. As we approached Platt’s Bridge it looked like new, once we had passed under it we could see why, the photo is the up stream side.DSCF8229 Just passed the bridge is Swanley Marina, it wasn’t here last time we came this way. There were lots of cars around so maybe several boaters are planning to go out for the weekend.DSCF8231

Although we gave the boat moored in front a good start we were still in a queue at the first lock, but it was a boat just out for the weekend who had just left Swanley Marina so that answered my earlier question, at least one we out for the weekend. We did meet a few boats today, 7 in all and a couple in the right places. This is a lot considering in the past two weeks we have only seen one on most days.
One of the boats we met was waiting to go into the Baddiley No 2 lock, as he left and passed us the steerer called out “I’ve just read your blog” I didn’t get his name but this is the back of him.DSCF8232 While working through Baddiley lock we noticed this track worn into the grass, from the way its worn it looks as if something goes round the end of the stop plank hut with some speed and quite often. The soil has tiny little holes in it like toe nails, it is obviously a regular occurrence from how well its worn and goes all the length of the bywash.DSCF8233

When we got to Wrenbury Church lift bridge the boat we were following had it open, this was another spot where we met a boat and they also came through while the lady ahead had it open. I offered to drop Diana off and pick the other boats crew up but they insisted we carried on.DSCF8238 We were able to repay the favour at Wrenbury Lift Bridge, where Diana manage to hold up about 6 cars, one hooting because the boat behind was coming through quite slowly. As soon as Diana had the barrier open they were streaming over, no regard for the red flashing lights.
Just before the bridge is Alvechurch Boats and of course they still have most of their fleet in, I don’t know if this officially a windingDSCF8236 hole, the guide books show it as one and if you did want to turn there before the bridge there is still room but looks a bit intimidating.

The boat that we shared bridges with winded at Thomason’s Winding hole ready to return to the marina tomorrow. This winding hole wasn’t there last time we came this way and is not in our guide books, but its about a mile west of Wrenbury Lift bridge.DSCF8242

The sheep had obviously eaten all the greenery from the top of these roots and were about to eat the roots themselves, I think that this shows if given the choice the sheep like the green bits best.DSCF8241

At Willymoor lock the bywash seemed to be flowing faster than the others, I know it must had the same amount of water but it enters the canal with more force. Beside the lock is the pub, The Willymoor Lock Tavern and the only access to it other than water is the footbridge across the tail of the lock and the bywash.DSCF8243

Just one more lock, Poveys Lock and we were calling it a day. Here we met two boat and as the lock, like most of the others was against us we waited while the first boat came down. On this canal it pays at some locks not to wait at the lock moorings, if you do there is a good chance the boat exiting the lock will hit you as the bywash sweeps them across. this is one such lock and he didn’t hit me because I was below the moorings, as you can see from the photo above Willymoor is another.
We finally stopped for the night on the 48 hr moorings below the Grindley Brook flight, we are saving these for tomorrow.

Today’s Journeymap 15 11 miles, 9 locks, 2 lift bridges in 5¾ hours.

Blogs may get a bit sporadic over the next  few days as the Llangollen Canal is not the best place for an internet signal, so you may miss a day or two and then get a bunch together.