Saturday 31 December 2016

Marbury Saturday 31 December 2016

Well its been a grey old day, warm, dry but grey. We set off at twenty past ten without a breath of wind and only met two boats on the move, one of those was a hire boat on trade plates.

There was very little of interest to report other than Grindley Brook where I managed to empty both chambers completely behind me. This was due to being unable to close the intermediate gate to give less than a 4” gap between them.  I even tried racking the cill with my hook with no luck. The strange thing was that afterwards with the chambers empty they both closed reasonably so I was able to refill the top chamber and bring the middle one up to working level so that the next boater to arrive didn’t find it all drained.
There were a couple of fishermen between the bottom two locks, but as nether offered a weather forecast I assume that they were not the ones I met coming up.

There was a lot more water coming down the canal today than when we went up, this was especially noticeable below Willeymoor Lock.

We carried on down to just through Steer Bridge before we moored on the SUCS 48hr moorings for the night. Most nights this trip we have used their moorings which are very handy. You can find a list of them at http://www.shropshireunion.org.uk/the-canals/visitor-moorings

This will be the last trip report this year folks, normal service will resume in 2017.
Some statistics from 2016 we have covered 1308 miles and done 793 locks.

Today’s Journey  map 13 6½ miles, 9 locks in 4 hours.

Friday 30 December 2016

Old Mans Bridge Friday 30 December 2016

Much warmer last night but the temperature dropped and the mist came in early this morning. As we set off just after 10 it was quite misty but we were soon in bright sunshine, then you would go under a bridge and the next stretch would be mist again.
The reflection on Blake Mere we came to was quite stunning, far better than I could capture as we passed.DSCF6631

We saw an unusual bird, I think it was actually a Blackbird with lots of white feathers, the other Blackbirds seemed quite OK with it and didn’t bother it at all.DSCF6634 While we are talking about birds, how do Buzzards manage to land and take off from the cross beams of power cable poles without electrocuting them selves, I would have thought their wing span would be great enough to touch both cables and there are two of them sat on this one.DSCF6623
We stopped for a while to see friends who live at Hampton Bank before pushing on to our mooring for the night.

Passing the Prees Branch from this direction the new piling being installed down the arm as far as the lift bridge is even more obvious.DSCF6641 Here our timing was spot on and we arrived at the lift bridge just as the boat ahead had gone through and they kept it open for us.


Someone, I don’t know if its CRT contractors or local highway dept. have been chopping the young willow shoots on the offside, some they have collected up but lots have just been allowed to fall into the canal. Not only are there a pain to boaters but eventually they will find their way down to the lock bywashes, DSCF6643its not that far to Grindley Brook, here there are just a few well spaced stumps but in 50 yards there is a continuous hedge off them and if they let that lot fall in the cut there will be a right mess.

The afternoon light gave me a chance to catch this lovely reflection, it was at about 3 pm this after noon, just half an hourDSCF6646 before we moored up for the night. It wasn’t planned but that mooring turned out to be just 50 yard from where we moored a week ago.

Today’s Journey  map 1210½ miles, no locks in just over 3½ hours.

Thursday 29 December 2016

Ellesmere Thursday 29 December 2016

It was definitely chilly last night, we recorded -5°C and when we left at 10 o’clock it had risen to -4°, but what a morning it was with clear blue sky’s and bright sunshine, everywhere was covered in thick, white frost from last nights freezing fog.

It has to be very cold for the LLangollen canal to freeze over as it is a constantly moving waterway, but today there was very thin ice in the mooring layby at Lyon Quays which is on the side of the canal.DSCF6599  The canal gave some real Christmas Card views today as we made our way to Ellesmere.DSCF6618 The wind was so light that that we even saw a hot air balloon slowly drifting across the sky, this was just before we arrived at The Jack Mytton Inn. Water levels here were a bit better than when we came up and we didn’t touch the bottom at all.DSCF6621

We stopped at the services at CRT services at Ellesmere to top up with water, I had luckily had the forethought to take the water hose out of the front locker and put it in the engine room so that wasn’t a block of ice, I learnt that the hard way. Once full of water we moored at the mouth or the Ellesmere Arm as the sun was going behind the clouds.DSCF6627

Today’s Journey  map 11 10 miles, 2 locks in 4¼ hours.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Chirk Bank Wednesday 28 December 2016

Woke to a clear bright day, we didn’t see the sun until 9am due to the hills, a good frost all round dropping to -5°C overnight and still freezing this morning. Diana wanted to go up Castell Dinas Bran so we set off walking back to Llangollen at 10am in bright IMG_0242sun shine, from the top of the hill the Dee valley was filling with mist and when we returned at 12-30  it was still reasonable clear as can be seen from the photo below.  The reason for taking the photo is to show the Beech hedge will be a right pain in a fewDSCF6584 years if its not kept well trimmed and what are the chances of that happening, it was taken in the lowest narrow section of the canal and is only slightly wider than a boat.

As the canal above Trevor is often in a concrete channel with vertical sides that stand well above the water level, British Waterways Board when they carried out the work included these stepped access points so that animal who may have fallen in DSCF6572could climb out to safety.

As we got nearer to Trevor the mist got thicker.Coming out from under the bridge into Trevor Basin I can see why the hire boat hit the bank on the far side, right in the ark  where he wanted to swing his bows was full of canoes.
Here is a shot of a map, courtesy of Waterway Routes a digital map company that produces maps and videos of the inland Waterway Routes mapwaterways system and shows just how sharp the turn is at Trevor when you come off the end of the aqueduct.

We only saw one canoe today and I only just saw him before I entered the aqueduct, had he been a few yards further away I doubt I would have seen him before we started to cross.DSCF6588

Directly over the middle of the River Dee there is this handle down just above the tow path on the aqueduct. It is there to operate the valve that drains the aqueduct into the river for maintenance purposesDSCF6592 .

As we came up the canal yesterday I posted a photograph taken looking across the aqueduct towards Trevor to show the reflections in the water, this is what it looked like today.DSCF6594

The weather stayed quite murky and after passing under the lift bridge it was quite hard to see passed the long term offside moorings  to make sure nothing was coming the other way. Whitehouse Tunnel and Chirk Tunnel are much easier going in this direction, as we entered Chirk Tunnel I could see a boat ahead, we thought we had caught a glimpse of him earlier and we slowly caught him up, as he left the tunnel I heard him put the power on and expected him to be well gone when we exited but crossing the aqueduct we still continued catching him. Again on leaving the aqueduct loads of power but he was making little progress, I think he probably had a load of leaves round his prop, something we have suffered with badly this week. We didn’t go much further just through Monks Bridge 21W to moor on the Chirk Bank visitor moorings for the night.

Today’s Journey   map 107½ miles in 3 hours with no locks.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Llangollen Tuesday 27 December 2016

Well there was no queue of boats waiting to fill with water at the two waterpoints where we moored last night, but I did fill the tank before we left. It was quite cold this morning with the coldest time being about 9 am this morning when it was just above freezing. The valley however was covered in frost when we left at 10 o’clock..DSCF6564

There was not a breath of wind, but thankfully no fog, I couldn’t take a photo of our shadow in the valley as we crossed the aqueduct because the sun was still low and behind us, but I didDSCF6563 get one of the reflection looking towards Trevor with not a ripple in sight.

As we neared the far end of the aqueduct Diana spotted a hire boat approaching Trevor from the Llangollen, so we held back at the end of the aqueduct to let him exit the bridge and turn. We weren’t sure if he would be coming our way or going into the hire yard, in the end he just went straight before coming our way.DSCF6567 The basin was full of canoes and one couple in a Canadian canoe, I don’t think they were with the others decided to sit on the inside of the bend as you turn under the bridge, it could well beDSCF6569 why the hire boat went straight across. The main group kept well out of the way.

The first section after leaving Trevor is in a concrete channel and the bottom is quite bumpy, we bounce a couple of time going up this section. CRT have now erected small notices saying it singleDSCF6571 file and keep to the centre. It must be important because they were prepared to invest in an A4 print for them.

One thing that keeps coming into view as you do this stretch of canal is Castell Dinas Bran which is the ruins of a hill top castle originally built in 1073.  In this photo it was dead ahead of us but as you approach Llangollen it is off to your right.DSCF6576

The canal between Trevor and Llangollen has several narrow sections where there is not room for boats to pass, one of these has a passing layby and a boat was just at that layby as we had entered the narrows so waited until we passed. Going up is very slow, not only is the channel shallow and narrow there is also the flow coming the other way and it all has to get round the boat somehow. The best bit of luck was meeting the trip boat just leaving Llangollen at a wide point. We carried up into the basin and moored to one of the pontoons for a couple of hours to walk into town. In previous years Llangollen has been full of boats who have taken a winter mooring, this year there are only 4.

After our walk around the town we returned to Harnser and set sail, I have no desire to pay to moor on a duck poo covered pontoon that is only half the length of the boat overnight.
Again Lady Luck was with us and we met the rip boat coming back just after we had cleared the long narrow section, we continued down past the lift bridge to where there is approximately 100Mt  of piling on a straight bank and tucked in there for the night with 3 other boats. Talking to one of the others who is moored here, the chap single handing the boat moored at out bow is only 89 years old. That has given me hope for the future.

Today’s Journey   map 09 5¾ miles in 3¼ hours with no locks.

Monday 26 December 2016

Pontcysyllte Monday 26 December 2016

Yesterday evening we had our Christmas dinner in full festive spirit, except I have just realised we didn’t have any crackers.


The canal here is very shallow and we woke with a bit of a list on,  I had to push us out  about 4 foot from the side to get on anDSCF6546 even keel. As I could see the bottom quite clearly I tested the depth all the way across with my boat pole. The red marker just visible is the 3ft marker.So the maximum depth on this section of DSCF6547canal this morning was just 3ft. and as we made our way towards The Jack Mytton pub we hit things on the bottom several times.  Once through New Marton Lock things improved greatly and we were able to get above 2 mph again.

Chirk Bank has an interesting display of painted pots on the off side, most of them look like chimney pots to me, but pleasantly painted.DSCF6553 The morning had been mainly sunny but now the clouds were gathering and it felt a bit cooker although in practice it didn’t fall below 6°C.

I found it quite slow going crossing Chirk aqueduct, in all the times I have crossed it I have never noticed this stone work on DSCF6555 the adjacent railway viaduct before, it was here that we entered Wales, but I didn’t see Passport control.
I thought I was going to come to a standstill as I approached the far end of Chirk tunnel, it was just like trying to drive uphill. We did clear the tunnel just before the boat coming the other way arrived.

Chirk Marina looked full to bursting point, its hard to see how boats get from one end to the other. Not long after this we were at Whitehouse Tunnel, much shorter than Chirk so much lighter so you could see the way that the tow path is built above the water so that the water can flow round the boat easier.DSCF6557 A short way past the tunnel is bridge 27W known as Irish Bridge, just through the bridge is a very sharp left turn, for some reason this boat thought the bend would be a good place to moor his boat, so when leaving the bridge you now have to turn very sharply to get round.DSCF6562

We wanted to moor before the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct as we were pretty sure there would be no moorings in Trevor with all the hire boats in. There are a couple of Shropshire Union Society 48 hr moorings but in view of another forecast storm and some very tall trees we pushed on under the lift bridge and moored on the offside at the end of the water point, not something I would normally do, but there are two water points and we have only seen 3 boats on the move all day, so it is very unlikely that 2 will turn up wanting water at the same time before we leave in the morning.

Today’s Journey   map 08  8¾ miles, 2 locks in 4 hours.

Sunday 25 December 2016

Hindford Sunday December 25 2016 Christmas Day

The weather although looking very threatening yesterday afternoon didn’t actually do anything, however while I was getting Diana a Beecham’s at 5-30 this morning it was quite blowy and I could hear the tin rattling on the roof of the old canal building at the end of the arm. Following that we overslept a bit so didn’t get away until 1045 am. by now it was all calm again with lots of blue in the sky.

Our first port of call was the Canal and River Trust “CRT” maintenance yard back at the junction to fill with water and dump our rubbish. This is one of the few with recycling facilities. I think its the first time I have ever seen the dry dock empty.DSCF6523The yard has many fine buildings but some of them, just like the waterways that CRT looks after could do with a little tender care.DSCF6526 


Almost opposite here there are plans to build a new marina between the houses and the canal.DSCF6530 

It seemed hard to realise that today was actually Christmas Day, we saw a few walkers and and several hire boats about, some of them enjoying the odd glass of bubbly, but the weather felt more like spring with the gorse in flower and catkins on the trees.Some were green and some were brown.

DSCF6531 DSCF6532 DSCF6533

We considered stopping at the mouth of the Montgomery canal at Frankton Junction but as there was a boat there already and I needed another couple of hours battery charging we pushed on. As you can see the weather was still good but as the dayDSCF6535 progressed if got not only cloudier but also windier.

The other day  I posted a picture of a car with a large vinyl picture on the side, today we saw a van that was sign written.DSCF6537 

A little past here there at bridge 6W, the W is due to the fact that they restarted numbering the bridges again from Frankton Junction, is a very nice example of a turnover bridge where the towpath changes side.DSCF6538 We pushed on finally mooring at the visitor moorings at Hindford where we moored for the night, by now it was just starting to drizzle, in the field opposite where we have moored there are sixDSCF6542 Little Egrets just sitting in the field, I didn’t expect to see them so far away from a large expanse of water or a good size river. Since we have been here the wind has continued to freshen and is well into the upper twenties now.

Today’s Journey  map 07 5½ miles in 2¾ hours

Saturday 24 December 2016

Ellesmere Saturday 24 December 2016

Well storm Barbara was somewhat over rated from where we where and if I had not have heard the forecast I wouldn’t have moored up at mid day. I don’t know how the rest of you fared.

This morning while having breakfast we had a bit of rain so I set off a little before 9-30 am it full wet weather gear, however it wasn’t needed and the weather not only stayed fine all day but the morning was so calm there wasn’t a ripple on the canal.

No locks today but a few more of the lift bridges to contend with. As we passed the Prees branch there was a sign saying the towpath was close.The reason soon became obvious with major piling works taking place with some serious length piles.DSCF6512

Just past the junction the pilled edging is marked up as
“No mooring” for some reason.DSCF6513

We only saw one boat on the move and that was a hire boat just before we reached Ellesmere, the other thing we saw was a rather smart stop plank store, it would look nice in our back yard with a BBQ in it.DSCF6518 We expected the Ellesmere Branch to be packed out as the full length is a designated a “winter mooring” but when we arrived there were probably only about 6 boats moored there and only 2 of them had winter mooring permits, so that left plenty of room for us. Tesco are located at the end of the arm which allowed us to top up on Beechams Powders, Diana already has a stinking cold so I expect I will end up with flu.

Today’s Journey  map 06 10¾ miles in 4 hours with no locks but 2 junctions and a tunnel.