Saturday, 27 June 2015

Llangollen Motorway

Monday 22 June, 3 mile, 1 Aqueduct, 1 Tunnel.

Traffic quite heavy this morning. Opened the back door to see our neighbours had left and we hadn't heard a thing. While mucking about before heading off it was fun to watch boats going aground on the first corner. We walked into Trevor as I wanted to have a look at the Aqueduct from below. As we passed the troublesome corner I took a good look at where the problem was. In Trevor we went to the information centre then I walked under the aqueduct then down the river Dee a short way. It is an impressive structure but there was no where that you could see it all at the same time. Back to the boat for lunch and then on our way. Remembering what I had learn't this morning I was very conscious of having a clear run at the corner. OK nothing coming, all ropes released and the flow has us moving. A boat then appears coming up stream and then stops (grounded) I have no where to go and then find myself grounded. This all happens in time for a second boat to appear coming upstream. After heaps of pushing and shoving we all continue our journeys. Before leaving I had put the Gopro on my head so I could get some pictures over the side of the Aqueduct. I am looking forward to seeing how the "being grounded" will come out. Moored up outside the Chirk Marina again as it is the last place you can get sun before Chirk Tunnel. Just after we moor up another hire boat joins us. Kiwis from Tauranga.
Checked out the Gopro movies. (Note to self: push record button).

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from the River Dee

Railway Viaduct over the River Dee further down stream

Tuesday 23 June. 2 miles, 1 Aqueduct, 1 Tunnel.

Moved off reasonably early to leave the boat just before Chirk tunnel for the day while we visit Chirk Castle. The Castle is National trust and the previous owner still lives there some time. We sat down for a coffee before our tour starts and at the next table the owner is being interviewed by a National Trust person. Only got snippets of the conversation but made us feel a bit connected to the Castle. A great tour and then back through the Castle at our own pace and taking photos. Finishing with a walk through the gardens and numerous topiaried Yew trees. Walked back to the boat for the next drama of the day. Must remember that we are on the heaviest trafficked hire boat canal. So we are preparing to leave and go through the tunnel and across the Chirk Aqueduct. Gopro on head and recording. A hire boat passes and there is a drunken conversation about the light in the tunnel, three people tell the helmsman not to go in but he insists that the light is only a torch. He enters and two others follow. 1/3 the way in they meet the torch, attached to a narrow boat coming the other way. He is adamant that he is right and altercation occurs. To defuse the problem the boat that was nearly through the tunnel backs out. The third one in from our end wants nothing to do with what's going on so backs out to our end of the tunnel. So after a 40 minute delay and the boat that was originally in the tunnel makes it through with one behind. we set off in an accumulated flotilla of 5 boats. Later on that evening we pass the offending boat with the crew on the towpath having a great old time. We had intended doing a couple of locks but a pub we had stopped at in 2003 is too inviting to pass.
Checked the Gopro. Interesting conversations recorded but footage over the Chirk Aqueduct not that good.

Chirk Castle
The Chirk Viaduct from the Chirk Aqueduct 
Wednesday 24 June. 9 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Away at a good time as we are booked to go down the Frankton flight onto the Montgomery canal today. They are only open 1200 to 1400 each day. Arrive at the top lock just after 1200 and are the second boat down. The first 2 locks are a staircase and lock keepers are there to help. These are followed closely by 2 others. We have heard that the Montgomery should not be missed by some and others who say it is a ho hum sort of canal. At the moment there is a breach part way down so we can only go 4 miles. It is very Rural with high reeds on both side in places. Not that interesting. Get as far as we can turn and moor up. As we have been told there are lots of places to watch the wildlife further down I go on a recky to see if Diana's foot can make the trip and if it is worth it. 3 miles there and 3 miles back with not much wildlife to be seen. Not worth putting extra strain on the foot.

Thursday 25 June.

Yesterday we meet the secretary of the Furness Vale Boat Club we are members of. They had been to Shrewsbury for the day so we took their advice and caught the bus. An interesting place to visit with Black and White buildings, Stone churches, Market halls an Castle and a many other variations. There was a circular church, quite different. Shrewsbury is a bit disjointed. the old buildings are interspersed with modern stuff so doesn't have the same impact as the places that have all the old buildings together. Well worth the visit though. Back to the boat with the intention of moving back towards the Frankton locks. Such a nice sunny night decided to wait till tomorrow. Meet a bloke from Hastings who was on a hire boat.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Saturday 20 June.

Didn't get off the boat until after lunch. I spent some time at the station watching the comings and goings of vintage railcars (DMU's) and one tank engine. Diana went into town and did her shopping thing. On the way back to the boat we walked the towpath to the end of the canal. The only boats allowed past this point are the horse drawn tour boat and canoes. It was a trek of close to 2 miles to the weir that diverts the river Dee into the canal and forms the Horseshoe falls. Near this spot is the Chain bridge which ends up at the front door of the Chain Bridge Inn. A beautiful spot for an ale. The view across the Dee included a few trains going past. The walk back seemed shorter.

Sunday 21 June. 4 miles.

I set off in the morning up the tow path for nearly a mile to visit a motor car museum. They had some Austin's so was hopeful of getting a bonnet badge for the A7. On arrival I find a note to the effect that they were opening a couple of hours late today. Back o the boat and into town to visit "Plas Newydd". The home of the "ladies of Llangollen". So much of the building was covered, inside and out, with carved Oak making the interior very dark. Diana had read a book about the two ladies so she was pleased to follow their story. The gardens were graced with a number of Topiaried Yew trees. Our time on the moorings expired at 1700. That was unfortunate because just before 5 a couple from Lower Hutt passed for a chat. They were sailors and we knew a few of the names they mentioned. Out of the basin into a traffic jamb of tour boats, day boats, horse drawn boats and narrowboats that must have known that moorings became available at 1700, trying to get in. Once past the traffic a relatively fast trip, going down hill now, to stop just before Trevor as the day was starting to get a bit cooler. As we moor up the couple that were next to us in the basin pull in behind. Happy hour finished about 2300.

Friday, 19 June 2015

To the top of the LLangollen

Tuesday 16 June,

We had visitors from Gisborne/Bomere Heath join us for morning coffee. Pete and Pole live in the UK and spend the northern winter in NZ. After a good catch up they took us to Cole Mere to meet friends of theirs who live in a thatched cottage in beautiful gardens. A delight to be shown around by locals. Had lunch overlooking The Mere before being taken back to the boat.

Wednesday 17 June, 11 miles, 2 locks, 1 tunnel, 1 Aqueduct.

We set off early (early for us) and backtracked a couple of hundred yards to a marina to empty the black tank. Retraced our track and filled up with water in preparation for a couple of days down the Montgomery canal. There is a problem on the canal and you can only go 4 of the 7 miles but am told it is still worth it. Talked to CRT when making the booking and they say it could be some time before the problem is fixed. Received advise by email that night to say they were monitoring the situation and hoped to have a resolution by Monday. Talked to a boater at the water point who tells me it is very exposed. There is a good breeze today and it could be unpleasant. Any way we head off to the locks at the top of the Montgomery and have a chat with the lock keeper. The real story is that the problem is not large and easily fixed. The holdup is that a bird's nest has been found that is stopping getting the machinery in to do the job. Until there is an environmentally friendly solution the canal will be limited to 4 miles. In view of the strong wind we elected to cancel our booking and headed towards Llangollen. Local advice is go in on Friday and leave on Sunday to keep away from the congestion of hire boats. After crossing the Chirk Aqueduct and going through the tunnel we moor up for the night. On the way we pass a Kiwi couple who noticed the Kiwi roundel on the front of the boat and asks if I was in the airforce. By now we are out of conversation range so hope to meet up some where as his face is bugging me. We also passed another couple who live about three blocks away in Napier
Thursday 18 June. 1 mile.

With the Chirk station close and a direct train to Ludlow we put on the tourist hat and head off. I had been there in 1990 but Diana hadn't. First a walk through town with camera clicking on our way to the castle. I didn't really remember much of it so both of us had a good look around. Back to town where there was a market. Lunch in a nice restaurant before heading of to St Laurence church. Another magnificent building with fine stone and wood carvings. Diana had her eyes on all the possible photos, so much so that she didn't see the last step in a flight of 3. Down she goes and lying on the floor her first statement is "don't touch me I have to see if my camera is broken". Takes a photo which is OK so now we can see to her. I find her a seat and one for her foot while a couple of ladies come to assist. One has a compression bandage and puts that on her foot. While she is resting I climb to the top of the church tower for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside. We leave with plenty of time for the invalid to hobble back to the station. Arrive back on the boat with plenty of daylight to spare. As the boat is in a deep cutting we move the mile to get into sunlight.

Friday 19 June. 6 1/2 miles, 1 tunnel, 1 World Heritage Aqueduct.

Diana's ankle is surprisingly good but sore. there are a couple of lift bridges to pass. One was chained up, the other was up for other boats so she didn't have to get off the boat. She chose to get off half way over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to record that we had taken our boat over it. Still a magnificent structure 13 years after first crossing it. Arrived in Llangollen for a late lunch. Since last here a mooring basin has been built for 33 boats so there was plenty of room. A quick walk into town for a look around and to check out the vintage railway trains and station.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Canaling Kiwis

Tuesday 9 June, 5 miles, 3 locks. 2 lift bridges.

Wandered through a paddock of cows to the church at Wrenbury. Talked to a local in the churchyard who advised us there were also two bulls in the paddock. Another selection of old houses to photograph. Looked in the village store which was well stocked even if the selection was small. Took the alternative way back and called into a very good chandler at Wrenbury Mill. Set off after lunch and a couple of miles down the track we pulled over and walked to the village of Marbury. The church is situated overlooking a small lake, nice setting. Talked to the writer of walking guides who was researching walks in the area. A good variety of buildings in this village. Took a public track back to the canal through farmers paddocks. I do like this English custom/right. Further along the canal as we were coming up the lock at Willeymore I nipped in to the pub and checked at the menu. Moored up just passed the lock and enjoyed dinner at the pub.

Wednesday 10 June. 2 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Domestic morning with washing of clothes, and a tidy up inside and out Molly Rose. After the first isolated lock we came to Gridley Brook. Three locks in quick succession then a wait at the 3 lock staircase. The locks are manned to assist with keeping things flowing. At a staircase one has to think well ahead to avoid boats meeting in the middle. Before we could start up we needed to wait for three coming down. While waiting and talking to those on the boat behind we find the owner of the boat is a Kiwi who has lived in the UK for 45 years or so and his sister from Kerikeri was with him. We caught up again in the evening when we moored up in front of them. Took a half hour walk into Whitchurch to buy a few bits and pieces and looked at some old buildings before heading back to the boat.

Thursday 11 June. 3 op shops.

Spent the morning washing the top of the boat and painting the boarding plank I repaired a few days ago. Into town in the afternoon with cameras in hand to check out the church, Heritage center & a bit of hardware shopping. The Heritage center had displays on the history of cheese making in Whitchurch and the story of Joyce, tower clocks. Fascinating how they kept the old traditional making well in to the 20th century. They have made some of the biggest clocks, in towers in the world. On the way into town we meet 4 Kiwis who were returning to their hire boat. I think we left them with a few thoughts about ownership. Maybe we will hear from them again. Had a coffee in a nice pub courtyard before the walk home.

Friday 12 June. 3 1/2 miles, 3 lift bridges, 1 op shop (saw something yesterday that was needed)

Friday is market day. Some fruit and veg, cheeses, fish and meat along with the crafty and junky stuff. I found a very tempting model shop which would have relieved me of many pounds if I could have carried the Drone, Model railway engine & large scale model aircraft home. Lunch in town and back to the boat to leave about 1600. Any of you that know the system here will appreciate that is not the best time to move from near a hire boat base on a Friday. Stuck with it for an hour and half with a bit of drizzle starting. First precipitation in over a week. Decide to moor up after the next bridge but before we got there a head pops out from a moored boat asking where we came from as they came from Tauranga. We pulled in behind them and had an extended happy hour.


Monday 8 June, 5 miles, 5 locks.

Had a bit of a tidy up and reorganisation inside the Cratch (sharp end of boat) this morning. Walked the 20 minutes for an icecream. Sat in the sun in Snugburys courtyard and watched the Swallows and Red Robins busy in their work. Made us so hungry we had another ice cream, called it lunch, before returning to the boat and setting off. Tied up at Wrenbury as the sky darkened. Inside with a rum in hand before the rain arrived.

Completed the Llangollen

Saturday 13 June. 5 miles, 1 lift bridge.

Morning started cold and drab so no hurry to move but move we must as we are out of internet coverage and in this modern age a day on the boat without contact with the outside world is hard to take. Just before lunch with a brightening sky we moved less than a mile around the corner and went for a walk around Whixall Moss. It is where peat has been cut until recently and now is protected so it can revert to it's pre-harvesting days. The area has a lot of military history. During the Boer War it was a training ground. In WW1 four rifle ranges were constructed. The army also harvested peat for horse bedding and moss for sterile wound dressings. During WW2, with 3 flying training schools and 2 fighter and bomber operational training airfields nearby the area was used for fighter pilot gunnery training and a bombing range. An unusual wartime feature was that a flare path was lit as a decoy and it was one of the Starfish locations. How it worked. When the Germans dropped incendiaries to mark a target it was put out asap and fires were lit here to make it look like the target for the bombing force. While we were there we had a battle of our own. You have heard about the West Coast sandflies, well we have experienced the biggest and hungriest mosquitos I have seen. As usual I was in shorts. A bad decision that I am still regretting. There was another walk I wanted to do a mile or so further on but having walk 4 miles on boggy tracks decided to do it on the way back. Late in the day the drizzle started but we continued until the clouds got dark and heavy rain was threatening, so pulled over for the night.

Sunday 14 June. 3 miles. 1 tunnel.

Cruised into Ellesmere basin having been told there should be plenty of room. At the end of the arm we turned and moored up in the only available slot, next to Tesco's. It will be easy to stock up with some extra heavy items before we leave. We have now done all of the Llangollen canal. Our first narrow boating experience was with Richard and Mel back in 2003 when we hired a boat from Trevor and got as far as Ellesmere before returning to Trevor. Had an easy afternoon with a wonder around later. Meet another couple of Kiwi boaters who are overseas for the first time and have been on the Union canal in Scotland, are now on the Llangollen and then off to spend a week on the Regent canal around London.

Monday 15 June.

Main purpose of the day was maintenance. With the town a couple of hundred yards away I can get the bits and pieces I need. Di managed to find a couple of op shops. We took a walk to the Mere, had coffee, walked back via the White Hart for an ale.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

In to Wales

Friday 5 June, 4 miles, 5 op shops.

As we went south down the Shroppie we passed the junction with the LLangollen canal an took a glance at the first 4 locks which will require attention in a few days. Trickled past heaps of moored boats at Nantwich before finding a 60ft gap to moore up for a couple of nights. Walked the mile into the town centre. We had been here 5 years ago and it took surprisingly little time to remember the buildings and where we had walked. Last time we were here it was a Sunday and Bank holiday weekend so most of the shops had been closed. This time Diana was into the op shops while I scouted around to find them all. She got to 5 before closing and there are another 5 to go. Back to the boat for an early night before tomorrow's adventure.

Saturday 6 June, 250 miles (by car)

0800. Jim & Anne are knocking on the door bearing gifts. They have driven down from Preston where they live on the banks of the Lancaster canal. We meet them last year and they invited us into their home. Today they have offered a mystery tour of North Wales. Off we go heading for Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust property in Tal-y-Cafn. On the way we see a sign for "Antique's. A side trip is in order. This proved to be very advantages later in the day. In the gift shop I saw a postcard of the Falls at Betws-y-Coed that my Granny had painted in 1906 and hangs in our hall at home.
The gardens were up there with the best of them. With a stream running through a tree lined gorge which included some massive specimens, it was a great place to wander around. After lunch the discussion was what else to see. We had been to a couple of the places suggested by Jim back in 2003 so when he mentioned Narrow gauge steam trains the choice was easy. What I didn't realise was how far away they were. West we go towards Ireland then follow the Menai Strait south ending up at Porthmadog. A quaint Welsh seaside village. It had a different feel about it from an English seaside village. I liked it. Down the end of the street we see steam so trot on down to the station where fascinating narrow gauge locomotives and carriages are preparing for an excursion. Unfortunately the round trip is 2 hours so the bucket list has an additional item added to it. Now we head for Betws-y-Coed. as I had earlier mentioned Granny's painting. The route took us up through an area where slate is quarried. Bleak and barren except, in the middle of this is a substantial town, Blaenau Ffestiniog". The railway goes through here as it's origins was the transport of slate and it's narrow gauge is because of the mountainous terrain it travels through. As we approach Betsy-y-Coed I spied a sign to Fairy Glen. This jogs a memory so I quickly look at the postcard bought in the morning and yes it is Fairy Glen where the painting is of, not the Falls at Betsy-y-Coed. Back we go, park, and tramp off over a farm through the bush and clamber down the rocks to this magical spot. Many photos taken so I can compare the differences 109 years later. I also took photos of a large rock with names carved into it. Haven't found "GET" yet. Now we are heading for home. Over the moor's through some lovely farmland with a stop for dinner at The Plough. Arrive back at the boat 2230. Jim & Anne stopped for a coffee before heading back to Preston. Their day ended at 0030. Thanks for a great day away from the wales.
 Tank engine
 Narrow Gauge
 Tunnel of flowers
Fairy Glen
Sunday 7 June, 4 miles, 4 locks.

Later start than yesterday. Headed south  1/2 a mile to a wining hole so we could turn around to go north again. Didn't go far before stopping in the country for lunch and to do the washing. Turned left onto the LLangollen canal climbed the 4 locks, topped up with water and after 2 bridges moored up for the night. Good choice, because when I went for a walk later I found the sign saying that the famous Snugburys ice cream farm is but a 10 minute walk away. it will be a late start again tomorrow as we gob out for morning tea.
2200 Sun going down

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Two blue days

Wednesday 3 June. 0 miles,

Woke to a sunny day. Spent the morning repairing the boarding plank which broke last year. After lunch the day was so nice we sat on the towpath, The couple from the next boat wandered over and we chatted for an hour or more. It was such a great setting we decided there was no need to move. In the evening we took a walk down the tow path for a mile or so.

Thursday 4 June. 7 1/2 miles, 2 locks.

Woke to a second sunny day. Got underway straight after breakfast as we needed some hot water and power in the pc's. 4 miles later, moored up for showers etc, had some lunch. Diana caught up on emails & facebook while I did some exterior cleaning. Mid afternoon we moved a couple of hundred yards and  moored on the other side of the canal so we could visit a marina. I'm doing a bit of research as we may shift marinas next year so we are closer to the southern canals. Also visited a chandler and that always costs money. Carried on down (or should I say up as we were climbing in the locks) towards Barbridge Junction. The 2nd of the locks was where a hire boat had sunk on Sunday. Diana had a good chat to one of the locals and apparently CRT knew about the fault with the lock but had not done anything about it. Should make for some interesting insurance claims. Two ladies were on their 2nd day out when the front got caught on the gate and filled the boat with water. They were not perturbed as they asked for a replacement boat to continue the holiday. Turned left at Barbridge junction stopped around the corner and off to the Barbridge pub for dinner. I highly recommend the Steak and Ale pie.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

After the storm

Tuesday 2 June, 3 miles, 1 lock.

Had a good night's sleep to wake up on a dead flat canal. Not sure where the storm went. Maybe when you live in the roaring 40ies wind doesn't have the same significance to you. There was talk of more wind so after another late start went to the supermarket to stock up. Our travels a quiet rural for a while. Visited the local chandler to get some LED bulbs. In the afternoon the sun was out, I dried out the bilges, Di went into town. When she got back we decided to move on a bit. Once we left the cutting we were in we noticed the wind was still there but we continued for 3 miles to find a place in the country to stop, put the generator out and do the washing. Weather forecast is for mid to high teens with no rain for a week except Friday. Maybe there is a summer.
View from the lounge tonight

Monday, 1 June 2015

Batten down the hatches

Monday 1 June, 220yds, 2 locks, 2 op shops.

Nice sunny start to the first day of summer. There is a strong wind and storm warning out for later in the day through till Wednesday morning. We decided to shift from our mooring on the Trent and Mersey, around the corner to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. This involved down Kings lock, a tight 90' blind left turn then straight into the Wardle lock to climb back up 9'9". This is the first lock going up this year. Had to think hard about what the difference was. I had forgotten that when the water comes in the front it rushes under the boat hits the gate then picks you up and hurls you at the front gate. I'll try to remember that as we climb through 24 more on our way to Llangollen. Rain started at lunch time with the wind picking up late afternoon. We are moored in a reasonably protected place. Interestingly we are moored with two other boats that are here to sit out the storm. One couple have a daughter in Matamata and the others are regular visitors to New Zealand. Not holding my breath but from Thursday the prediction is for a hot June.