Sunday 31 December 2017

Church Minshull Sunday 31 December 2017

It got a little bit breezy overnight, checking the weather station this morning indicated that we had had gusts just under 35 mph. but this morning was much quieter.

We set off at 1020 and started meeting boats almost immediately. We didn't need water but the water point at Hurleston is the last one before the other side on Middlewich so we topped up while we had the chance. I walked forward and checked the locks, the top one was empty and the second full, a boat had also just entered the bottom lock, so by filling the top we were able to meet them just below the second, saving us both some work.

At the top lock we saw our first daffodil of the season and the last this year.DSCF0106

When we came up the flight they were carrying out soil test drillings along side the canal, today they had packed up and gone, just a bit of mud in the grass beside the roadway. In the bottom lock, the one that causes most of the problems there are signs where they have drilled holes through the side walls to see what is happening behind them.DSCF0107

When we were clear of the locks we turned left on the Shropshire Union Canal where we made our way to Barbridge Junction to join the Middlewich Branch. Again we met several boats, but both locks were against us as we were following another boat, however it did mean we didn't have to close up behind us.

At Sykes Hollow Moorings a short section has been reserved as a disabled mooring, DSCF0109plastic mesh has been let into the grass so that wheelchairs don't sink in and one of the picnic tables has been modified so that a wheelchair used can pull in close.

We moored for the night on the visitor moorings overlooking Church Minshull and the Weaver Flashes, you never know we may even see fireworks at midnight from here.

Actually we moored just in time again, we had no soon secured the ropes and put the fenders down and it started raining again.

Today's Journeymap 15 7.35 Miles, 6 locks in 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Swanley Saturday 30 December 2017

Well guess what, it rained again last night but had cleared up before we set off, it was also a good deal warmer but over the course of the day the wind picked up. This resulted in my cap sailing away as we passed the entrance to Swanley Marina.

Before we set off this morning I had to do a bit of maintenance on the stove. It wouldn't come up to temperature last night so this morning after breakfast I shut it down and cleaned the burn, I can't remember when I did it last, before diesel became low sulphur it was a regular requirement.

We didn't see much about this morning and the only interaction we had with anyone was when the chap with his barrow had to wait for us at Frith Lift Bridge, DSCF0094but he didn't seam bothered by the short wait. We were to see him again in his truck at Wrenbury lift bridge, where Diana waited for him before closing the road to lift the bridge. Once through the bridge we were to meet several boats, one we knew and we met them at a bridge hole. Having met three boats we were quite surprised to find Baddiley Locks against us as we hadn't seen a boat ahead of us at all.

We actually pulled over for lunch between Baddiley and Swanley Locks as we decided that with the wind it would be impossible to eat soup on the move. As it turned out we pulled in behind the boat we had been following and as they were away before us the Swanley locks were also against us.

As I said my cap blew off passing the marina entrance but luckily it landed like a boat and I had recently waterproofed it so it floated against the towpath where Diana was able to rescue it for me. We carried on through the bridge to moor for the night a short way before Platt's Bridge, It was well dark when we felt the boat move and thought a boat had just slid past, but actually it was the surge from one coming through Platt's bridge with his tunnel light on, he has moored for the night between us and the bridge. I was quite surprised to feel the surge so early.

Today's Journey map 14 7¾ Miles, 6 Locks in 3¾ hours

Friday 29 December 2017

Quoisley Friday 29 December 2017

Well we went to bed in bright star light and about -2° and woke up to heavy rain this morning. Even though we had about 3.5mm of rain fall a lot or the grass and tow path was still white. The rain stopped around 9am but left a very murky morning when we set off at 10.30 am. We stopped to fill with water just above Grindley Brook, thankfully our hose wasn't frozen, I had forgotten to bring it in last night, then down to the service block to dump the rubbish before tackling the locks, I hire boat pulled in behind us, a Norwegian couple out for a fortnight who thought the weather was fine.

The middle lock of the staircase was empty so I needed to bring that up to level as well as filling the top chamber. The area around the locks was like a skating rink with rain on top of ice, the walk boards across the gates were no better, so great care was taken. The Norwegian lady assisted by operating the gates on one side for me. The next three locks and the tow path between them was no better.

When we woke up the temperature was just +2° and by now it had dropped to +1.5° but the murk slowly lifted and the sun came out making it quite pleasant. We carried on down to below Quoisley Lock and round the bend to moor for the night, by the time we stopped conditions on the ground had improved a lot but it had started to rain again and the wind had picked up.

Again we are on one of the 48hr Visitor moorings, there are loads of these on this canal, a majority of them provided by The Shropshire Union Canal Society. DSCF0091Its good that people give up their time to make life more enjoyable for others.

Today's Journeymap 13 4¼ miles, 9 Locks in 3¼ Hours

Thursday 28 December 2017

Whixall Thursday 28 December 2017

Well bit of a surprise this morning the arm was iced over, only very thinly but opening the rear doors and the sun beamed in. By 10 the ice had cleared as we went to the end of the arm to wind and then leave heading on down the canal.

There was quite a bit of traffic about today and it was good to meet someone who reads my blog, even if it was at Hampton Bank Bridge. Turning left at Whixall Moss Junction not only was the land to the right of us flooded it was also frozen.DSCF0081

We stopped at the new 48 hr moorings by Roundthorn Bridge, it seems these were installed by the Small Task Team Volunteers.DSCF0087 They must be a busy group because this was their 100th job and CRT have only been in existence for 6 years, so that is a project every 3 weeks.

The reason we stopped was when we came this way last week a lorry was stuck on the bridge and we wanted to see where he came to grief, he only just lost his off side front wheel from the tarmac. DSCF0084

We carried on in the sun shine towards Whixall, we needed to do a bit longer day today following yesterdays short day to bring the batteries back up. As we passed the Anglo Welch yard I noticed this boat on the hard, what caught my eye was the shape of the rudder, is this to try to reduce the risk of cilling when going down in locks I wonder?DSCF0088

We just passed The Whixall branch under the lift bridge and moored for the night, the same moorings we were on, on our way up.

Today's Journey map 1212½ miles, no locks in 4¾ hours.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Ellesmere Town Arm Wednesday 27 December 2017

Again last night was wind and rain, no snow unlike some places, the temperature dropped to 2° during the night and only got up to 5°C today, but at least its been sunny.

A boat came by about 9an and we set off at half ten. New Marton top lock is only a couple of hundred meters from where we were moored but by the time we arrived the top gates had leaked so much it had filled its self up, New Marton bottom wasn't much better and only down a foot so its a good job they are down for repair next week.

In the past we have had Kingfishers just flit along ahead of us, today it was a Buzzard who went forward a few yards and waited for us then off again.DSCF0073

I intended to get a photograph of Mr Badgers front door last time we were this way but failed, but managed it today, not well lit but the sun was round the other side.DSCF0075

The towpath changes side many times on this canal , but this is the only turnover bridge I can recall seeing, its Polletts bridge or W6 and is just west of Maestermyn Cruisers.DSCF0076

We met a few boats on our way to Ellesmere where we have moored down the Town Arm. As we passed Ellesmere Dry Dock I noticed the bedding from a chap who is living under the covered area by the water taps. He wasn't about as we passed but there looked to be an unopened Christmas present on his bed and a robin hopping around picking up crumbs.DSCF0079Today’s Journeymap 11 7½ Miles, 2 Locks in 2¾ hours

Tuesday 26 December 2017

New Marton Locks Tuesday 26 December 2017

By this morning the weather was much better, the sun was soon with us and stayed out all day but it was several degrees cooler than yesterday, but dry.

We set off a little after 10 am, just as I was letting go a canoe came down the canal so I let him by before pushing off. We had a clean run down the 500mt. narrow section, meeting the canonist coming back as we approached the end, so I pulled hard against the towpath and he slid by.

The towpath between Llangollen and Trevor is in very good condition being hard surface and smooth all the way, this is probably due to money from Sustrans, the cycling organisation.DSCF0046

As we approached Trevor we spotted this mill on the banks of the Dee at Plas-yn-Pentre, you would never see it in the summer time due to the leaves on the trees. This is by far the best time of the year to see the countryside along this canal.DSCF0050

When we entered Trevor Basin we turned left away from the aqueduct for the first time, we have never been down to the end of the basin before. First it was down between the rows of moored boats.DSCF0052

At the very far end Jones The Boats have taken over the westDSCF0053 branch with their 2 trip boats, but the east branch is open to visitor mooring. There is loads of room to wind (turn round) at the junction of the 2 branches.DSCF0054

I had quite a bit of trouble getting under Scotch Hall Bridge, it was like having the prop in porridge. Scotch Hall Bridge is quite ornate with a gate from the road which in now in mid air, Its a good job they put railings on it, talking of air, the arch of the bridge is also quite low. DSCF0056

We were soon on our way across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with no wait for boats coming the other way. This was the view as we crossed, unlike two days ago when it was too windy to hold the camera.DSCF0060

We stopped at the water point on top up our water tank before tackling the lift bridge, Diana raised it while I brought Harnser through and then lowered it again, we had just set off and another boat turned up behind us, if we had seen him coming we would have left the bridge open for him.

As we passed the Chirk moorings by the old post Office the people living on the off side have a fine collection or painted chimney pots.DSCF0065

We pushed on to the 48 hr visitor moorings just above the New Marton Locks for the night.

Today's Journey map 10 10¾ in 4¼ hrs with no locks.

Monday 25 December 2017

Llandyn Monday 25 December 2017

First things first, Merry Christmas. DSCF9964My son was the first to wish us Merry Christmas wit a text at half past midnight, don't you just love your kids.

When I shut up shop last night there was not a breath of wind, by the time I was ready to get into bed it was gusting 35 MPH.

This morning was fine but overcast, we made a move just before 10-30 just up to the basin to wind and dump the rubbish. While we were doing this we bumped into an old friend Ray and his little dog Bones. He is moored in the Basin for a couple of weeks before moving off down stream again. We use to moor at Floods Ferry together on the Middle Level and our paths cross every now and then.

I slid nicely backwards out of the mooring slot, turned through 90° and the wind picked up full sideways on in the direction I wanted the bows to do, so a bit more power was required to get round. While we were doing this a Canal Time boat had winded in the basin entrance and was also heading down stream so that ensured the narrows were clear for us to pass through.

Just over an hour later we were back on last nights mooring spot, but facing the other way. We hadn't been moored up long and it started to rain, still we are not moving again until tomorrow even if it does mean sitting here with the engine running to charge the batteries.

Today's Journeymap 09 2¼ miles in just under 1½ hours with no locks.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Llandyn Lift Bridge Sunday 24 December 2017

The wind picked up overnight and the centre ropes slapping on the back of the cabin became annoying so at 2am this morning the rear doors were opened and the offending ropes moved. Surprisingly we heard nothing of the trains overnight or this morning and the track is level with the towpath.

This morning started very dull and never really got going. We made a move at twenty past ten heading for Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, this is what it looks like as you approach it.DSCF0030

We met a single boat just before the aqueduct and then nothing so we had a clear run. There are no pictures as we cross because the wind was now gusting at over 30MPH and I was holding the tiller with one hand and anything that fancied blowing away with the other. The wind was coming straight down the valley pinning us to the walkway.

At the far end in Trevor Basin Anglo Welsh had all their boats neatly moored for the winter, I understand there are some visitorDSCF0031 moorings at the far end of the basin so we may investigate on our way back.

I always manage to hit the bottom as I come to the end of the concrete section of the canal just before the end of the first one way section, I almost get the feeling its getting worse and its not mud.

I thought I would include this photo as it plays with the eyes a bit.DSCF0033

As we came to the one way section just after The Sun at Trevor Diana said she wouldn't bother walking ahead, what are the chances of meeting anyone, which was fair enough, also once you have done about 30 yards you can see to the far bend and we didn't meet anyone, however at bridge 43W I was just lining up for it when I spotted the bows of the trip boat coming the other way so held back, good job he didn't leave 5 minutes earlier.

We carried on to just before LLandyn Lift bridge No.44W where we will spend Christmas, people suggested going into the basin at Llangollen for Christmas, but why sit in a basin surrounded by other boats when you cam look out the window and see this.DSCF0035

Today's Journey map 085 miles in 2½ hours with no locks. We could have done it a bit faster but then the batteries wouldn't have been so well charged.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Whitehouse Tunnel Saturday December 23 2017

We woks to a thick morning again but by 9am it was clear bright sunshine and it stayed like that all day. A couple of boats came by well before we were ready to leave at 10-15 am.

It wasn't far to the first bridge where this person had not picked the best place to moor up, about 60 feet from the bridge on the bend, right where a boat coming the other way wants to be soDSCF0008 they can see through the bridge. The farmer on the offside obviously holds his trees in high regard as he has gone to the expense and trouble of erecting metal railings around them, a common site in parks in years gone by.DSCF0009

As we approached Frankton Junction there is a notice on the towpath, I can't remember how long this notice has been here, but its measured in years. It says “Work in Progress”DSCF0012

Just through bridge 1W, they start renumbering them here again, DSCF0015CRT have put up another A4 small typed notice on the Offside, I couldn't read it after backing up to the bridge hole, so a passing boater would have no chance. Here it is in close up so that you can read it.DSCF0014

For many years there has been a Springer steel Narrowboat sitting on the bank not far from New Marton Locks, Today it has a cover over the back end so maybe someone has started working on it.DSCF0019

New Marton locks are due to have work done on them next month and we have to get back below them before it starts. The bottom lock leaks badly through the masonry and water gushes out from the approach wall below the bottom gate when the lock is full. Wee stopped just above the top lock to fill with water, this was quite a slow tap and we had time to sit and eat lunch while the tank filled. Looking across the countryside we could see the steam rising vertically at the works in Chirk, as you can see its a lovely clear day and at this time no wind, it did freshen late afternoon.DSCF0020

Onto Chirk aqueduct with the tunnel dead ahead of us, I wonder how long it will be before they decide there should be railings DSCF0021along the off side of this aqueduct like they have at Marple. I decided to go through the tunnel slowly to see if it made progress overall any better, no, I still came almost to a standstill about 50 yards from the far end as usual, but it was worth a try. Both this tunnel and Whitehouse tunnel have towpaths and were some of the first tunnels in England to be built with towpaths running through DSCF0024them, prior to this boats had to be legged through tunnels and the horses taken over the tops. The tunnels weren't bored but were cut and fill construction.

We had decided that we would moor for the night at the visitor moorings just through the tunnel, unlike most of the moorings we have passed which have been empty, this one has three boats there already so we are tagged on the end. We don't have to use visitor moorings but this is quite a shallow canal and we often end up going hard aground before we get close to the bank in other places.

Today's Journeymap 07 11 Miles, 2 locks in 5¼ hours.

Friday 22 December 2017

Tetchill Friday 22 December 2017

Last night we ad the Owls saying good night to us as we lay in bed, this morning as expected it was foggy, touch of ground frost and the sun doing its best.

We left at 10am and the weather slowly improved as we chugged along . Someone has done a lot of off side tree cutting along the canal near Hampton Bank removing so good sized young trees.DSCF9986

they have also been installing a length of wooden piling where the towpath has eroded badly.DSCF9985

We only met a couple of boats and the first of them was a chap in a Canadian Canoe and no he is not wearing a top hat and suit, its a wooly hat and dry suit.DSCF9989

By now the sun was well out and the mist had mostly cleared away, but it was still hanging on the Meres. This is what Blakemere looked like just after mid day. DSCF9991

As we approached Ellesmere Tunnel we discussed whether to fit the head lamp, what were the chances of meeting a boat, its only 87 yards long and we could see right through it. We just reached the far end when we met the second boat of the day, had we been a couple of minutes later we would have been in the tunnel when he came the other way.

At Ellesmere we turned down the arm to do a bit of shopping to top up with Christmas odds and ends that got missed Sunday O and also a turkey.

There were only 4 boats down the arm, I expected it to be quite full, with the low sun we got a nice reflection of the end of the basin.DSCF9997

The old warehouse was also nicely lit but I wonder how long it isDSCF9999 going to have to wait to be restored there is a wonderful growth of DSCF9998plants coming from the guttering, lets hope its still there when someone does take it on.

Once the stocks we replenished we winded at the end of the arm and continued up the Llangollen, Shortly after leaving the arm we came across the diesel/fuel boat, Mountbatten just completing a delivery, there would have been room to get passed them both if it hadn't been for the hire boat just coming through from the other direction,DSCF0001

Once by we continued on to find somewhere to moor for the night, we soon passed the long term offside moorings with theirDSCF0004 Christmas lights before coming to the first lot of 48 hr moorings, however there was a boat already there, there was room for us but with so few boats about why crowd someone so we carried on a couple of hundred yards to the next which were empty so we snuggled in there for the night.

Today’s Journeymap 06 8¾ miles in 3¾ hours with no locks