Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Today's Canal - Llangollen

We awoke to yet another glorious day and so it remained until evening. The place we moored was especially attractive - Christine placed in the top three of places we have moored (Devils Garden on the River Weaver is hard to beat!) - although we forgot to take a good morning view across the river!

It was busy before we set off and well into the afternoon there seemed to be an almost continuous stream of boats heading to Llangollen. For the first section, until we turned at Trevor, that was the only thing they could do but few had come out so what they will all do tonight . . . We did hear from one boat that it was completely full last night. We made a good decision to leave and seek the quieter rural pastures.

It was still fairly narrow although boats could pass each in most places. Some parts were open and others leafy glades.

One final shot of the bridge that marks the start of the narrow feeder canal to Llangollen - originally the canal had been intended to head north (the right of the photo) to link up with the Mersey at what then became known as Ellesmere Port. Economics and competition changed the plans and only half a mile was actually built.

Alice and Mike had intended to walk across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct as they rode across on the way up. However, CaRT and Police staff were on duty as the towpath had been closed following an overnight incident. Fortunately we could cross by boat but with strict instruction not to get off. After the crowds before it seemed strange to see no-one walking across.

Once across we were delayed because a boat had moored opposite the water point and, whilst a boat was re-filling, the navigatuion was reduced to one way. A stream of about five boats came non-stop and there was almost grid lock as boats behind us backed up to the aqueduct. Any more and it really would have been a problem!

After getting through Mike and Alice alighted to go ahead to open the lift bridge. Of course, we then had to wait for the queue to clear before we could lower the bridge. Someone from the other direction even tried to argue that we should leave it up as there were so many boats coming along. (The bridge carries an access road) A boat with a large tender then set off right in front of Christine as she came thorough the bridge and - well let us say that chaos ensued as boats seemed to think that pressing ahead into a confined space was the best way to make fastest progress! Pleasantly, a man watching the scene, not knowing that Mike 'belonged' remarked that the lady on the boat coming through had remarkable boat handling skills!

Shortly afterwards we could look back at a distant view of the aqueduct.

On then to Chirk. On the way up we had remarked that although the map told us that there are two large factories close to the canal, we could see no sign of them. (Joanna had seen them from the road and reported that they are quite sizeable). This time we did catch a brief glimpse, before returning to the wooded glade leading up to Chirk Tunnel.

It was remarkable, given the amount of traffic that we managed to follow another boat straight through Chirk tunnel and across the aqueduct.

This time we spotted a quite ornate finish to the last main pillar of the raileay viaduct.

We paused for lunch at the visitor mooring just before the A5 at Lion Quays. We took a look to see if we could collect a newspaper from the nearby petrol station but it was across the busy road that looked less than safe for pedestrians.

A short queue had built up at the first of the two New Marton locks but as the sky and sun were so brilliant, no-one minded the wait.

Not sure if this is a way of avoiding paying mooring fees!

At Frankton Junction we caught up with this boat that proceeded at a speed that was often less than our tickover rate. He obviously knew that we were there but offered no opportunity for us to pass. We had to continue like this until we arrived at Ellesmere, an hour later.

Mike dropped Christine and Alice just before the junction (slow baot cpontinued on round the bend) leaving Mike to take our boat across to the service point on the opposite side.

By the time Christine rang to report that there were spaces on the arm, Mike had already reversed back to a pleasanter almost rural spot with slightly more space between boats. Since he had also had had a rather tricky time doing this, he was in no mood to try somewhere different. They would just have to walk back! (Only three minutes anyway)

Whilst the meal finished cooking, Alice took advantage of the sunshine and did some violin practice.

15.2 Miles - 2 Locks

Monday, 30 May 2016


Today's Canal - Llangollen

It was a wonderful, bright, warm sunny day as we awoke and made ready to set off. Above us we could see on the hilltop the remains of Castell Dinas (not to be confused with Castle an Dinas which is Cornwall!)

We continued the last part of the canal into Llangollen. Two sections are signed as narrow and wide enough for only one boat at a time, Boaters are advised to have a lookout going ahead to make sure no-one attempts to come into the section from the other end. Mind you, on the way back we were almost through this section when a boat insisted on coming through despite only being metres after the sign. Fortunately we met at a place where it is just possible to squeeze past, although they found themselves very much in the offside shrubbery. By now we were really feeling the effect of the water flow.

Gradually the houses of Llangollen came into the distant view.

We stopped first at the service point - there are overnight visitor moorings either side and there were just a few vacancies. We then continued to the mooring basin where we had plenty of choice and Mike turned and reversed onto a berth whilst Christine found out about where to buy a mooring ticket. At this stage our plan became one of stopping here for the night.

As soon as we were tied up, Alice explored the area and found an interesting small pond where some of the first tadpoles of the season were beginning to hatch. She also saw a frog.

We locked up and then walked across the bridge over the River Dee into the small, busy town centre, devoted very much to visitors although there was also a good selection of small food shops.

On the way down Alice counted the number of different wild flowers in a small patch of grass beside the pathway. There were at least seven - here is just one.

On an older building of the secondary school (which has since been very much extended with more modern structures) we saw this sign - how long since science, arts and crafts were all bundled together?

Just before the bridge, one shop belongs to a taxidermist who displays samples of his work in the shop window.

We found the rather more mundane items we needed - enough to make the rucksack quite heavy! As we came back over the bridge we had a good look at the river as well as the steam railway station.

We returned to the boat and had a good lunch before setting off to walk along the towpath to the Horseshoe Falls. Only the horsedrawn boat is allowed to go further than the basin - it can go either way which is just as well as there is not place for turning a boat after the basin entrance.

The horsedrawn boat stops at the Chain Bridge Hotel (allowing its passengers time to take in the view) and only canoes manage the final part.

Finally we arrived at the very end - or, if you prefer, the origin of the Llangollen and Shropshire Union Canals.

Immediately beyond the metering station, which regulates the amount of water sent down the canal, is the place where the flow is diverted from the river. An information board explained that a fine filter is used to prevent river fish, especially salmon, from entering the canal where they will not thrive.

The Horseshoe Falls is the name for the shaped weir which was constructed at the same time as the canal. Today it was also a popular picnic, paddling and swimming place.

OK, so it was easy getting over the crest of the weir but how is she going to get back again?

There was no stopping Alice from joining in the water activity and she spent some time cooling her feet. Until, that is, she eventually slipped and developed a rather soggy front!

On the way back we called at the hotel for ice creams and a chance to walk across the newly restored Chain Bridge. Different bridges have been here over the past couple of centuries but the previous one was closed in the 1980's, only re-built last year.

Just before we left a steam train arrived and stopped at the nearby station before completing its return trip back to Llangollen.

As it was such a lovely evening and also so that we could recharge the boat batteries and hot water, we decided in the end to leave our mooring in the basin - now almost full, so we will have done a favour to one of the late arrivals!

Going past Llangollen Wharf we saw the horses being settled into their stables for the night having completed their duties for today.

With the water flow now in our favour, we made over 3 mph where barely 2 was possible on the way up. We retraced our steps back to a rural mooring that Christine remembered from our journey here. Apart from being a pleasant spot it also provided us with a distance view of the aqueduct. The photo was much better when, later in he evening, the sun caught it.

6.5 Miles - 0 Locks