Tuesday 31 March 2015

Tuesday 31 March 2015 Adderley

Not the best nights sleep last night, we recorded gusts of 44 MPH although it felt more, it must have been the angle it was hitting us straight onto our right hand side which was also the off side. Listening to it this morning I didn’t really want to crawl out of bed, but at least the rain had stopped. The first boat went by about 7 AM but we didn’t set off until 1040 hrs. meeting a few boat on the way, one a clothed up empty ex working came along at quite an angle across the cut.We passed Overwater Marina, their RNLI flag and flagpole gives an indication of the wind strength.DSCF8405

The land by the bottom lock at Audlem has been turned into a garden, but its impossible to say who is maintaining it.DSCF8409 We stooped in Audlem above the second lock to fill with water where is started to rain, only a light shower then we moved up and moored in front of Audlem Mill to go shopping, now it decided to hail. Another visit to the Butchers, Oxtail & Trotter in Cheshire Street, to get home cured bacon and sausages as well as a joint of beef, last time we bought a pork joint and sausages. The shop seems to be part of a small cluster of shops around the courtyard. One we visited specialises in sweets where we received a free sample, another is a wine shop and there is also a cafe with more things opening soon.

We timed our departure well as the boat moored ahead off us left seconds later. We had a good run up the Audlem flight meeting lots of boats mostly in the right places, When there was a lull in boats coming down we were able to draw the paddles for the boat following to help them up as well. Some of the bywashes on the flight were not flowing at all and some were quite fierce.DSCF8410

nearing the top of the flight we had rain,hail and snow, plus a little sunshine. The moorings at the top of the flight are surrounded by trees which I don’t like for two reasons, one they sometimes fall down in gales and we are expecting another tonight and two they are full of Rooks who poo on the boat and make a racket before first light. The moorings below the Adderley flight are much better being out in the open.

Today’s Journeymap 25

4¾ Miles 15 locks in 4 hours

Monday 30 March 2015

Monday 30 March 2015 Hack Green

The day started fine and the wind had moderated somewhat but it was a good coat colder than it has been. We set off just after 10 am and met a steady stream of boats which resulted in the first two locks being in our favour.

Just below bridge 11 a water main crosses the canal at high level. DSCF8381It looks as  if a new water main is being laid, but this time tunnelled under the canal between a concrete lined excavationDSCF8378 DSCF8380 each side. They are doing something similar at Fradley, this must be a lot more expensive than trenching across the canal bed, but of course does not require a navigation stoppage.

Just below Swanley Bridge Marina moored against the tow path were Mountbatten and Jellicoe looking splendid. These boats worked out of Braunston for many years but now sell coal and diesel on the Llangollen canal as high as Trevor. If you need diesel you will find them much cheaper than any of the marinas in the area.DSCF8386

We had just gone through the next bridge when boating friends of our came round the next bend and as luck would have it we were right beside the 48 hour moorings, so we both pulled over and went on their boat for coffee and biscuits as you do.  After a short while of putting the boating world to right we were off again heading towards the junction.

The work is still going on at bridge 5 but we saw no sigh of life, they have fitted these boards to the inside of the arc which I assume are to support the brick arch. DSCF8390I don’t know how much disruption to boat traffic its causing. The finished result on the down stream side looks very good. DSCF8391

As rain was forecast for the afternoon we decided not to stop for water above the locks but get it tomorrow.  As we approached the top of the Hurleston Flight a boat was just entering the top lock from below, so this put the first two locks with us, by the time we had done the second lock a boat was coming in the bottom of the flight so we waited until they came up two before going down ourselves, so no locks turned.

Leaving the Llangollen we turned hard right onto the Shropshire Union canal, a short way from the junction we passed these youngsters out enjoying themselves.DSCF8394

The weather was holding better than expected and we were almost to Hack Green locks when the rain started, Although we kept meeting boats and there was one coming down Hack Green as we approached we now had a boat ahead of us who we had to wait for to lock up ahead of us, they were following a second boat so they had to turn the second lock as well. Once we were through the locks we decided to moor on the visitor moorings at Hack Green for the night. Since we have been here there have been a few boats go by including the working boats Aldgate  and Stanton.

Today’s Journeymap 24 8¾ Miles, 8 locks, 2 canals, 1 Junction in 4¼ hours

Sunday 29 March 2015

Sunday 29 March 2015 Greenfield Bridge

A bit about yesterday. About 7 pm we went up to the Willey Moor Tavern for dinner and I think I can safely say it is the best steak pie I have ever had out, packed with tender lean meat and nice gravy, not a piece of fat or gristle to be found. They also had 4 beers on the pumps which helped.
This is not an open all day establishment but open Lunch time and evenings. There was a good crowed in there eating when we arrived and that is with no other boats moored nearby so must be local trade.

We got back to the boat and I set the clocks ready for this morning, only I failed to adjust my body by an hour so a bit lat start.

It was another rough night weather wise with rain and wind, however when we were ready to leave at quarter to eleven this morning it was just the odd light show and no wind, but it wasn’t to last and we have recorded gust speeds of 40 mph and a good 2 hours of rain since, the only up side was meeting 12 boats ensured all the locks were with us except one and we left the gates on that open for a boat coming up. The weather was so rough that these sheep all have there bums facing the wind and rain.DSCF8372 Being fully grown with a good fleece that are much better placed to cope with it than this group of new lambs we had seen just after setting off when the weather was better. I expect they wondered what had hit them.  DSCF8371 

Last week CaRT issued a Navigation restriction notice for Wrenbury lift bridge as they were modifying the controls, it certainly seemed to us to lift and lower faster today than when we went up. It wasn’t until Baddiley Bottom Lock that we had to turn one before entering, by now the weather was quite miserable so we decided that we would moor on the 48 hr visitor moorings a short way below the lock.

Today’s Journeymap 23 7 miles 5 locks 1 electric lift bridge, 1 manual lift bridge in 3¼ hours.

Saturday 28 March 2015

Saturday 28 March 2015 Willey Moor Lock

We woke to a fine morning but it was raining before we were up. Once the rain stopped we took a walk into Whitchurch, its a fair step from the end of the arm so I can’t see how their proposed new basin will bring much trade to the town. We arrived back at the boat at lunchtime and after a bite to eat set off at 1330 hrs. By now the wind had picked up to a good breeze. On leaving the Whitchurch are I had to continue back towards Llangollen and then wind before I could continue down to Grindley Brook. map 22aThis is due to the arm joining the canal on a sharp bend so it is to tight to turn right as you leave. I dropped Diana at the junction and she had the lift bridge open for me when I got back. I winded in a slightly unconventional way by turning toward the tow path and putting my stern into the winding hole, the reason for this was the stiff breeze coming down the canal through the road bridge, this assisted the bows round.

When we arrived at Grindley Brook locks there was a lock keeper on duty bringing a single boat up, so I assisted by draining the bottom chamber after they had gone up to the middle. On a staircase lock like this if you are coming down the chambers have to be near their normal low level to leave room for the water coming down from the chamber above. If you don’t do that you flood the tow path. There is a video of boats using the staircase at https://vimeo.com/12924835. The strange thing was that the first two locks after the staircase were empty but the bottom one was full. We carried on for another hour to moor just below Willey Moor Lock and in the hour we have been here we have seen more boats on the move than in the rest of the day.

Today’s Journeymap 22 3¼ miles 8 Locks 1 Junction twice, 1 arm in 2½ hours.

Friday 27 March 2015

Friday 27 Mach 2015 Whitchurch

Firstly a big thank you to Alf and Graham who put me right about the helicopters, I have had the wrong idea for many years watching them down the Montgomery Arm. It seems they are not police but RAF ones from Shawbury

Thank goodness that wind dropped overnight and it was a bright start to the day. before setting off we had a wander round town spending a few bob in the local shops. As we returned to the boat Diana wanted some things from Tesco so I returned to Harnser with the other shopping an set to getting ready to set off, moving to the end of the arm to wind, just as she came out of Tesco. I noticed that not only are there rings right to the end of the arm there are also rings across the end and bollard on the off side. If these were all in use it would make winding interesting to say the least.

We left the arm and had a brief stop at the services. The old horse drawn working boat Saturn was moored on the tow pathDSCF8338 side. This boat has a fantastic underwater shape as you can see from looking at the stern. This enables her to move very smoothly through the water.DSCF8340

Ellesmere has a sculpture trail along the canal, some of them are quite interesting. Please click the photos to view them. 

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After the last of the sculptures we were into Ellesmere tunnel, its only short and you can easily see end to end to ensure there is no one coming the other way.DSCF8348

  If you come this way then take care of your aim through bridge 52 or you will be sure to lose paint. When they fitted the protection on the offside running under the bridge they fixed it with a double row of bolts, each head just waiting to attack your blacking or worse your gel coat. They didn’t even use round head or countersunk bolts but hex head.DSCF8352 DSCF8353

At Whixall Junction there are some interesting bench arrangements with what looks like a short piece of fence beside them. If anyone know what they are I would love to know.DSCF8356

   We got to see more helicopters today, this time it was obvious that they were military ones, the noise as they approached was something else.DSCF8364
  It was just on 4 pm when we reached the Whitchurch are so we decided that is where we would spend the night. As we down it looked pretty full so we expected to have to wind and come backDSCF8368 out, but as we turned I could see a space right at the end passed the cruiser on the so we reversed down there and slipped in behind beyond it just before the very end and this is as far as you can go for now, but the Whitchurch Waterways Trust have plans to change that.DSCF8369

Today’s Journeymap 21 12½ Miles, 3 Junctions, 2 Branches, 1 Tunnel, 4 Lift Bridges  in 4¾ hours




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