Sunday, 28 May 2017

Ellesmere Sunday 28 May 2017

The boats were on the move quite early this morning and at quarter to ten there was a lull in the traffic so we set off. We had just dropped Whitchurch lift bridge when a boat appeared behind us, so at the next bridge we waited for them to come through as well, they returned the complement at the following one where things first got interesting with 3 boats coming the other way, the first seeing us stopped dead in the middle of the cut and the ones behind sort of milled about. It stayed reasonably quiet and we made a decent speed until we got to Tilstock Park lift bridge where there was a boat coming the other way and some waiting to go through in our direction, we were now tail end Charlie on a convoy of 7 Narrowboats and no one stopped at the bridge to close it, so we did it.

The convoy was a bit slow as the front ones stopped at every bridge but on the whole we were getting along nicely meeting a few boats on the way. Again at Whixall Moss lift bridge someone going one way or the other opened the bridge but no one stayed to lower it again, on this occasion the boat ahead off us pulled over and passed a windlass to a walker to drop it because he couldn't get there due to a fence. One boat left the convoy going down the Prees Branch, but we were soon up to full strength when another tagged on the end at Hampton Bank.

We chugged steadily along until we got to Ellesmere tunnel where again we came to a standstill as each boat stopped before entering the tunnel and proceeded through at snails pace. We moored for the night on the junction rather than going down the arm to Ellesmere town.
Today's trip took approximately an hour more than I estimated it should have so Tesco has to wait until the morning.

There where a couple of spaces down the arm when we arrived but we decided to stay put just at the mouth of the arm on the junction, I hope we are just clear of the crash zone for boats coming from Llangollen heading downstream.

I only took one photo today, these cows having a drink.DSCF8027

Today's Journeymap 09

13 miles in 5½ hours with no locks

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Grindley Brook Saturday 27 May 2017

A slight change of plan last night, following me sending the log and us finishing our BBQ we decided to move up the canal a bit to the 48 hr moorings. We stopped where we did because it was shady with trees both sides of the canal, but by now the boat had cooled nicely, also the rooks were coming home for the night and we were sitting on the bottom, up at the visitor moorings we were just sitting on the bottom, the other two were fixed.

It started raining at about 7-30 am this morning so I thought thats it for today, however it didn't last long and a 10am we were on the move again. Our timing was spot on and we didn't turn or close a lock behind us all the way to Willeymoor Lock. Then it went down hill.

When we got to Firth Lift bridge we found it down, every other time I have used this canal it has been locked in the up position. There are new gates at the field entrance opposite the bridge and a caravan tucker round behind the shed, so maybe it will always be down from now on.DSCF8012

At Willeymoor Lock there was rather a nice car in the carpark, I could just myself in something like that.DSCF8013

After the next lock a boat rapidly pulled out from the moorings as we locked up, so rapidly that he dropped his fender, jammed his stern line and left his wife and dog behind as well as getting across the canal. If he hadn't have pulled out we would have gone straight up to the Grindley Brook staircase locks, as it was we pulled onto the end of the visitor mooring and let he go on. The weather looked bad and we didn't want to get caught for 6 locks in a storm. In the short time that we were stopped the hotel pair that were moored there pulled off to go up the flight and a boat that had been following us went by. The weather looked a lot less threatening so we tagged on the end.

While I was waiting to get under the old railway bridge to reach the lock moorings I noticed the distance marker, I can’t call in a milestone as it Kilometres for the Sandstone trail.DSCF8016

There were a few boats coming down which helped with the first three locks but then the boat ahead of us and us had to wait for two boats to come down the staircase flight. The staircase has a lock keeper on duty until 6-30 in the evening to help boats up and down plus control the flow. Earlier this year a boat sank in the lock by not following the correct procedure before the lock keeper came on duty.

Once clear of the lock we stopped to fill with water and then moored ahead of the hotel pair for the night on the 48hr moorings.

Today’s Journey                                                                    map 08  9 miles and 13 Locks in 6¼ hours

Friday, 26 May 2017

Ravensmoor Friday 26 May 2016

Yesterday evening the couple on the boat moored the other side of the marina entrance had a right set to, she was swearing and he was throwing things in the boat. In the end she stormed off and left him to it, some time later she rang him up and he went to fetch her. This morning I heard there engine but thought they were charging the batteries, but when we got up they had gone, only thing was they were going our way. Also last night a little after 11 pm the International Space Station flew over, if you can call it flying and it was probably the brightest I have ever seen it, just like a plane's headlight in the sky

We set off at or normal 10 am start and it wasn't long before we were meeting boats. This section of the canal must give the best view of Beeston Castle and you sail towards it, unfortunately the sun was not in the best position to take photographs of it, it would have been better in the afternoon I think.DSCF7995 As we approached Wharton's Lock I could see the lock was filling from the flow between the gates, Diana went up expecting another boat coming down, but it was a hire boat going up ahead of us. Luckily for us they were held up by a boat coming out of Beeston Iron Lock so we were able to share. There are notices at the lock warning two boats to take care, but there is loads of room for two modern boats, he even had his fenders down.

A train going by caught my attention as we cruised between the locks and looking up I could see the signal man operating the signal box levers but all the signals I could see were lights not semaphores DSCF8002

Just below the lock a Moorhen has decided to make her nest on the back of a Narrowboat and the boat owner is now waiting for the chicks to hatch.DSCF8004 We carried on together to Beeston Stone lock, by now life was getting good with boats waiting to come down. Below the lock this Yellow wagtail was catching things in the bywash as the water slowed to a trickle.DSCF7998

Above the lock our new friends pulled over for lunch so we were on our own again, Tilstone lock was half and half so I don't know if the hires coming down got it wrong or it just leaks a lot.

At Bunbury I dropped Diana off at the bridge before the hire base and hovered there until the lock was almost empty before passing all the moored hire boats. I just arrived at the lock as the gates were opening and I could see two bows waiting to come out. I pulled in against the lock mooring between all the hire boats and the lock gates, but nether skipper of the boats coming down looked impressed. maybe I should have waited at the far end of all the hire boats until they passed. There was a Volockie on the staircase and he soon assisted us on our way up and away.

As we passed the Barbridge Inn hire boats were already mooring up for the night, its probably the recommended stopping place for the last night being within a couple of hours of both Bunbury or Venetian Marina. I know it was packed when we stopped there on a Friday evening.

We decided that we would go up the Llangollen Canal for a few days, as we passed the overflow for the Hurleston Reservoir we could see that a bit of maintenance is being carried out on the overflow. If we get the rain forecast for the weekend they may well need that.DSCF8005

We timed our arrival at Hurleston Junction spot on. The bottom lock was empty and then we met boats all the way up to the top. We carried on for a couple of locks stopping for the night a short way before Baddiley No.3 Lock near Ravensmoor. Here we had our first BBQ of the year, looking at the forecast it may also be the last.

Today’s Journey

map 07

12.7 Miles, 12 Locks, 2 canal in 6¾ Hours

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Tattenhall Thursday 25 May 2017

Last night we went for dinner at Siam a Thai and Teppan-yaki Restaurant. We went for the Thai menu and it was good, the flavours were fantastic and the food not overly hot, the portion sizes were shall we say generous and I didn't wake up feeling hungry, just the opposite, next time I will skip the pud.

I went for my nocturnal toilet visit at about 5 am. this morning and the canal was in thick fog, but so warm I had to open the dogbox wider.

We spent the morning walking the walls of the City again, we did this last time we were in Chester and its a pleasant walk returning to the boat for lunch. We returned via the Northgate locks where there was a Volunteer lock keeper board out of his mind. No boats had used the lock since the fuel boat Halsall went down probably before he was on duty and we were the only boat left in Chester, all the rest had gone. Not only that but we didn't meet any boats heading down there all afternoon.

Just as we were about to start lunch the Mill Hotel restaurant boat L’eau-t Cuisine came past heading for the top of Northgate locks. This boat is a bit unusual as it has a rudder and propeller at each end so can travel in ether direction.DSCF7978

In the photograph its travelling backwards with the passengers enjoying their starter, a short while later it came passed again and moored up at the hotel to take the main course onboard. I knew it would then leave and travel south (forwards) through a couple of locks while the passengers ate their main course before returning to the hotel backwards as they had dessert, so we set off to be ahead of her. As we passed the crew asked if we would just draw a paddle when we left which wasn't a problem.

The first lock we came to is Hoole Lane lock and is the odd one out on this canal for having a top ground paddle one side and gate paddle the other so a bit of care is needed. DSCF7979By the time we were ready to leave Chemistry Lock the walking crew member from L’eau-t Cuisine caught us up and closed for us.

For some reason Greenfield lock was with us unlike the rest.

We stopped for water above Christleton Lock before continuing south. we did meet the two Charity boats returning to the Cheshire Cheese pub where they are based.
Its been one of those days where the willow seeds have been falling like snow.DSCF7984

The only other boat we saw on the move was the boat that had been piling at Golden Nook moorings. Being the sad person that I am I decided to measure the length of the longterm mooring and it came out at 1.2 miles or 2 Kilometres and of all the boats we passed, I only observed one move on its moorings due to having lose ropes.

Just passed the end of the moorings before you get to Tattenhall Marina someone has decided to do a partial refit and leave all their rubbish on the bank.DSCF7991

We moored almost in the same spot as we did on our way down, outside the marina at about 6pm.

Today's Journeymap 06

7.2 miles, 5 locks in 4½ hrs

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Chester Wednesday 24 May 2017

Well this was the view when we turned in last night.DSCF7950

This morning we woke to a dullish day without a hint of wind but by the time we set off after lunch it was hot sunshine and this was the view this morning.DSCF7952

We spent the morning wandering around the various displays in the museum and I was interested to read the origins of Ellesmere Port, being built by the folk of Ellesmere up the Llangollen canal it seems.DSCF7960

I am sure last time we were here you could see most of the boat that is attached to this funnel.DSCF7967

We set off after lunch and became the main exhibit for a school party who had just arrived by coach. can you imagine trying to stop a dozen kids falling in.DSCF7970

We had a good trip up the two locks as the bottom one was still empty as a boat had arrived earlier. By filling the bottom lock at the same time as draining the top one you prevent the pound overflowing. They keep the top lock full just in case someone falls in.

By now the weather was scorching as we made our way back towards Chester. One of the modern mileposts has been made into a shrine for Ellia. I take it this is Ellia Arathoon who was murdered last year.DSCF7944

Its good to see even if the yard is not fully utilised that Taylor’s dry dock is still in high demand.DSCF7977

We didn't meet any boats all day but we did have one catch us up about 2 miles before Chester and shared the locks with us. He was single handing and had a damaged shoulder due to falling into his engine hole following a fire, his leg didn't look too impressive ether. Anyway we locked him up with us and then had to find somewhere to moor, the moorings by the gardens were full but there were only two boat above Cow lane Bridge, so thats us for the night.


Today’s Journey

map 05

9 miles, 5 locks in 4½ hours.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ellesmere Port Museum Tue 23 May 2017

First an apology, last night I said we were moored above Northgate Bridge, it should have been Cow Lane bridge.

As we were in town we went out to eat at a canal side place in the old Steam Mill called Artichoke's. We didn't know it but they were doing 2 for 1 on pizzas, they also had 4 beers on the pumps. When we got back to the boat I looked on Google and they had some poor reports, but we found it fine. I would happily go again.

This morning we were off at quarter past ten, down to Northgate staircase locks, this is a staircase of 3 but other than dropping the final chamber , each chamber only has one paddle. DSCF7917

looking back as you enter the locks you can see how they had to carve through solid rock to get the canal through below the town wall.DSCF7913

This flight has only just reopened after a weeks stoppage where the intermediate cill had to be replaced.DSCF7919

As the lock emptied the mussels where all weeing into the canal, they do this when they are taken out of the water for some reason.

Below the lock the footpath is cantilevered over the canal, I wonder how many people walking along there realise that.DSCF7920

Not much has changed at Taylor's boat yard since we were last this way, the old wooden cruisers are still all sitting there in various states of disrepair. It would be lovely to see it a working yard again.

Carrying on along the canal to Ellesmere Port we had an Airbus Beluga come almost over top of us, these are used to transport aircraft parts to France for assembly. They fly in and out of Hawarden Airport moving things like Airbus wings. DSCF7931

Another unusual for of transport was spotted on the canal bank, a motorbike and sidecar, not something you see many of.DSCF7934

The horses were helping each other with the fly bites, they just walked towards each other and instinctively knew why, not a sound was made as they communicated their needs to each other.DSCF7940

When we arrived at the museum I went in to enquire about mooring, for one night it was the entry cost for all onboard to visit the museum, thanks Mr. Tesco vouchers and then £4 for additional nights, the museum entry covers us for a year so I don't know what it would cost if we want to moor her again overnight, I am hoping just £4.

We dropped down through the two narrow locks, care has to be taken not to flood the land by the bottom lock, we were helped on our way by Mike Turpin who made sure we did it right. Once through the bottom lock we went round by The Holiday Inn before winding and mooring against one of the islands as far from the hotel air conditioning plant as possible. DSCF7946You can see our route on the map below, this is the level of detail you can see by clicking the main 04.aJPG

I thought I would set a quiz question today. What can you see wrong in this photograph.DSCF7943

Today’s Journey   map 04

9.15 Miles, 5 Locks in 4¼ hours

Ellesmere Port Museum Tue 23 May 2017






Monday, 22 May 2017

Chester Monday 22 May 2017

We had another good night, you could hardly hear the trains passing the other side of the marina. Setting off at our normal 10am, the first 5 minutes were fine but then it was 45 minutes at tick over as we passed the miles of Golden Nock on line moorings.DSCF7891

I am sure this bridge was damaged last time we came this way, the road runs straight and parallel to the canal ending in a right angle left hand bend over the bridge, obviously this gives some drivers a problem.DSCF7896

One of the boats on hard standing had the front cratch area converted with a Landrover roof. the boat has a square bow like a punt.DSCF7895

At the north end of the moorings the land owner is piling the bank, but I don't think the moorings have been extended at all.DSCF7899

Today was much warmer than yesterday, tee shirt weather, but not so sunny and as we approached Chester there was even a little drizzle, but not enough to get a coat out. We met two charity trip boats, the first wanted their fair share of the cut and mine with the steerer being well over my side of the cut, but the kids look liked they were enjoying it, which is the main thing, its good that people give up their time to give pleasure to others.DSCF7902

We passed one part where someone is living on the towpath by the looks of it, lots of us just don't know how lucky we are.DSCF7900

The level of the pound below Tarvin Lock looked very high lapping over the tow path but when we arrived at Chemistry Lock it was right on weir so the tow path level must be very low in that section. DSCF7906

Development has now started on the old shot tower to turn it into apartments keeping the old building and tower.DSCF7908

We arrived into the centre of Chester hoping to moor above Cow Lane bridge but there was no space, just a couple of rings on the end, I was about to ask the last boat if he could move forward a couple of rings when he started his engine, so in stead asked if he was just leaving, which he was so we reversed into his spot but hard up against the next boat in line. Since then another boat has turned up and managed to moor ahead of us.

Since I have been sitting typing this the sun has come out and I have been joined by an Australian gent who didn't know the canal was here until a short while ago. He thought it was great and I even showed him round, not something I normally do. He was blown away with the idea and couldn't believe he could actually own one if he wanted to.


Today’s  Journey

map 03

7.15 miles, 5 locks in 3¾ hours

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Tattenhall Sunday 21 May 2017

Lovely quiet mooring last night, one to put in the book. We set off at 10am this morning about 10 minutes after another boat had passed so hopefully they would be clear of Cholmondeston before we arrived, it didn't quite work out as a boat pulled out in front of us so we ended up following them to the lock. There was a steady stream of boats in each direction and we were soon on our way again.

We chugged along steadily to Barbridge Junction where we threw a right hander. I love the chimneys on the old lock house.DSCF7865

Then it was down to Calveley Services to fill with water, its quite a slow tap and this boat who caught us up after we came out of the junction passed us as soon as we pulled in.DSCF7887

When we reached Bunbury Staircase Locks the little cruiser was just setting the lock, I don't know what had happened as they were a good quarter of an hour ahead of us and nothing had gone down ahead of them. I entered the lock first, he wanted the left so he could attach two ropes to the bollard, there are no bollards on the right and the wind was blowing from that side so until the lock dropped it was hard work holding Harnser off him. Just as we closed the top gates nb. Elizabeth came in from below, no problem, just do a shuffle. I bet Jim has never done a shuffle like this before. The locks equalised and the middle gates opened, I went forward in beside Elizabeth, the little cruiser moved over and forward to hang onto the ladder on the right hand side of the top pound so that Elizabeth could enter the top lock. Once Elizabeth was in, he then came forward behind me and went round my stern so he could again be on the left hand side to attach his two ropes to the ladder. When the lock was empty we let him go first and then we moored up for lunch, I didn't feel like shearing any more.

While we were having lunch several boats passed in each direction.
When we set off again we had the locks to ourselves but we did meet a couple of boats coming up, both who then moored on the lock moorings above the lock and no they weren't hire boats.

Some of the locks down hear have round buildings beside them. DSCF7869

I can only assume (until some one puts me right ) that these were for the lock keepers, even the doors are curved.

By now the weather was getting warmer and brighter, although it hadn't rained all day and I didn't need a fleece it was not tee shirt weather.

Of course we had to pass through Beeston Iron Lock, the whole chamber is made from sheets of iron and even the recesses for the to gates are the same shape as the brick locks down here. It was put in to try to combat the ground subsiding and moving the lock walls.DSCF7880

When we left the lock a boat pulled out from the bank some way ahead of us and we followed them to Wharton's Lock where they pulled over to visit the Shady Oak pub, we carried on to moor outside Tattenhall Marina for the night. As we made our way down this last pound Diana spotted a fox in a field on the off side, but before I got the camera ready he had moved on running across the field and through a hedge, when he got to the gateway on the far side, for some reason he just sat in the sun.DSCF7889

Today's Journey  map 02

7 Locks, 2 canals, 10¾ Miles in 6 hours.