Wednesday 31 May 2017

Llangollen Wednesday 31 May 2017

Not the quietest of moorings last night with the railway one side and the A5 the other. Boats were passing at about 7AM this morning and we set of about quarter to ten. It was a good move doing the tunnels and aqueduct last night as this morning we soon met a group of 7 boats coming towards us, that had reached 30 boats by the time we moored in Llangollen. That is an average of one every ¼ mile

We arrived at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and there was one boat well on his way across ahead of us, we soon caught him up as he was travelling very slowly. I took the obligatory photograph of our DSCF8081shadow as we crossed.
Its the first time in many years that I have crossed in nice weather, its normally raining, foggy or blowing a gale.DSCF8082

Some time ago CRT advertised for a cafe boat to be stationed at Trevor Basin, I see that it is housed in the dry dock.DSCF8083

The hire boat continued slowly and we had to wait for 4 boats at the first shallow section after Trevor, at this point the hire boat went aground and waved us past, he had been told to keep close the edge through that section, not the middle.

We passed the first narrow section with no problem but had to wait for the trip boat at the second, I don't think he was even in the narrows when his crew asked me to wait, after he was goneDSCF8085 I met a chap running, his hire boat was coming down, so it was back again. By now Diana had walked forward to stop any more coming down and I set off again only to meet another hire boat so back for the third time and then we were away. I noticed on the off side at the bottom end of the narrows this small memorial stone to Ivan, its only a small stone about 6" tall and is just at head height.DSCF8086

We moored on the visitor moorings just passed the service block and visited the town. I wanted to look round the railway station, but there is really nothing much to see. So then we walked the tow path to Horseshoe Falls a mile and three quarters, we were going to visit the cycle and motor museum but it was closed.

It was also good to see that the Chain Bridge is open once more after the town council took over ownership back in 2015. We just had time for ice creams before returning to the boat to leave before 5pm after which time they charge you £6 to moor overnight, where as a mile downstream we can moor 14 days for free. We set off upstream to wind at the mooring basin, it was here that we saw the Bywater hotel boats again.DSCF8089 They have just said goodbye to their guests and the new ones arrive tomorrow afternoon, so the crew have a bit of free time for a change. I understand they went rafting down the River Dee, As we set off it started to drizzle and the mountains looked full shrouded in it. Needless to say as we started off downstream we met the trip boat returning to its mooring to its moorings by the stables, a bit of confusion which side to pass but in the end I went where the gap was. We carried on down passed the moored boat and then had to wait while 3 boats came up, by now we were in a convoy of 4 going down, all people leaving Llangollen at 5PM to avoid paying for the night. We moored for the night just below the lift bridge and since we have been here there has been a fairly steady stream heading up to Llangollen and it was quarter to six when we stopped.

Today's Journey  

map 12 7½ miles in 4 hrs 38 minutes.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Whitehouse Tunnel Tuesday 30 May 2017

Moorings at Queens Head are at a premium and it is not helped by there being 1 boat with a mooring permit, a working flat and a canoe permanently moored there, plus they are 14 day moorings. Consequently we had to moor just the other side of the A5 road bridge.

DSCF8054  DSCF8055 

We ate in the Queens Head pub and the portion size is as generous as it was last time we visited almost 20 years ago.

This morning we set off shortly before 10 am to be at the junction by 12 to lock back onto the Llangollen Canal. Stretches of this canal are very straight just like this section between Keepers Bridge and Perry Aqueduct.DSCF8039 The aqueduct has moorings each side in case you have to wait for a stream of traffic coming the other way.

We also passed Rednel Basin, this is now completely overgrown, the first time we visited we moored up and wandered round and even in 2008 there was a boat moored in there. Mind you CRT do a good job maintaining the sign telling you how to operate that very overgrown swig bridge.DSCF8058

For some reason BW put stop plank groves in the bridge holes, but they didn't cut groves, they cast concrete blocks with groves in them set into the canal. This has meant they have had to install loads of fendering which of course will require maintaining.DSCF8056

The last pound above Graham Palmer lock was hard work as it was down by quite a bit. You can see the pocket matting they used to line the canal, the idea being that the pockets held the soil, you can also see the canoe portage platform above the lock.DSCF8059 when we did arrive at Franklin Locks there was a hire boat ahead of us. We were the only 2 going up today but several coming down. The plan was the hire boat would set off and we would turn the first lock behind them and follow, that way we would pass the first boat coming down in the first pound. It was a good job the hire boat was in front because I would never have got out of the lock with the level so low, it wasn't until the boat coming down dropped a lock full of water we could move. At the staircase I followed the hire boat straight up. The leak on the intermediate gate in the staircase looks impressive.DSCF8063

The lock keepers hut is nicely painted and has herbs growing round it, boaters are invited to help them selves but to leave some for others.DSCF8065

The Llangollen was quite busy and we met lots of boats, the most interesting of which was Saturn being towed by an ex working boat Buckden.DSCF8068

As we passed moored boats they started leaving, they had obviously stopped for lunch so when we reached New Martin bottom lock there were three we could see behind us. Next was New Martin top which should have been with us, but CRT were on hand trying to fill it for a boat coming down but it was leaking nearly as fast as they were filling it. It did seem to seal a bit better when we were going up.DSCF8071

We carried on to moor for the night at Chirk Bank, we were the first boat to moor up but it soon filled up, as we were mooring up a boat coming down didn't slow at all pulling the rear pin out and nearly taking the bow rope out of Diana's hand even though it was through a ring. Most of the hire boats have passed very slowly thank goodness.

An update to the blog.

After we had finished eating the main course of our diner we noted that the traffic had finally died away, some of the hire boats had been down to the pub for an early meal and were getting a few more miles under their belts. DSCF8074After a quick discussion we decided at twenty to eight to set off again and cross Chirk Aqueduct and do the tunnel while there was no movement, as we didn't see any boats on the move and we didn't want to moor in the cutting just through Chirk Tunnel we carried on and did Whitehouse tunnel as well. With these tunnels being narrow and the flow running down the canal we probably did a lot less that 1½ MPH. that's all we managed across aqueduct. So at 9pm we moored at the 48 hr moorings just to the north of Whitehouse tunnel.

Today's Journey map1113.6 miles, 2 canals, 1 junction 6 locks in 7 hours.

Monday 29 May 2017

Queens Head Monday 29 May 2017

We were awake quite early this morning with people running engines at some un godly hour and lots of the hire boats were on their way by 8am. We noticed that a couple had left the Ellesmere arm so at about 8 30am we set off down the arm to moor outside Tesco only to find they didn't open until 9am on a Bank Holiday.

Shopping done we were on our way, winding at the very end and heading back to the main canal. The heavy rain for this morning didn't materialise and although we had rain over night this morning started fine but overcast, however this soon turned to a persistent drizzle.

As we headed towards Frankton Junction we med a steady flow of boats, mostly private. At Frankton junction we turned left towards the top of Frankton Locks as we have booked a passage down the Montgomery Canal. All the 48 hr moorings at the junction were full and one boat was at the head of the locks waiting to go down so we have also moored at the head of the locks on the off side, We had about an hours wait until the locks opened, they only open once per day and passage has be booked with CRT in advance for both going down and returning. Thankfully this was when it decided to stop raining.

The lock keeper with a volunteer assistant turned up a little before mid day and adjusted the levels before removing the padlocks.

It turned out that two of the boats waiting to go down had not booked with CRT so were not allowed down, so only three of us locked down. This seems a shame as the maximum allowed up or down per day is 12. One of the boats waiting, nb Rock and Roll kindly let us go before them as we were nearer the lock but on the off side.

Two boats locked down the first two locks which are a staircase, at the same time boats set off from the bottom coming up so I met the first up coming boat in the pound between the staircase and the next lock.DSCF8031

We were going to fill with water at the services but the first boat down was already using the tap so we continued down the canal to the very end before returning to Queens Head for the night and dinner in the pub.

Unlike other canals the maximum speed on the Montgomery is only 3 MPH this drops to just 2MPH when you get below Queens Head.


Also the canal is very popular with canoeists and all the locks have portage point plus there is a designated launching point at the Western Branch and down at Maesbury Marsh.DSCF8034

I was just passing under Croft Mill Lift Bridge when a chap asked Diana to keep the bridge open please and for me to keep well over as a horse drawn trip boat was coming round the bend.DSCF8049 You can only go a few more yards from here to the winding hole by the old wharf.DSCF8051 By now Diana had lowered the bridge as there were people waiting to cross the canal so she had to crank it another 53 turns to lift it for me to get under. So that is 212 turns just to pass under one bridge.DSCF8052

On our return we stopped at the very smart service block at Maesbury mash, I don't remember seeing this last time I was this way.DSCF8053

As the Montgomery canal has an important conservation status parts of the off side are barriered off to protect the plant growth.DSCF8047

Like lots of canals new mile markers have been cast in iron and placed along the towpath,the only problem is they have all been made the same way round so the top ones read right when they are on the right hand side coming down, but when the towpath changes side to the left then they indicate the wrong mileage to the ends.DSCF8045

Today's Journey map 1013.6 miles 11 locks 2 junctions, 3 canals in 7¼ hours

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.