Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Still moored at Trevor Basin.
Last evening I popped my head out of the rear hatch to find that both boats that had been moored in front of us had gone. There was a hire boat in the winding hole but I assumed he was just winding. A quick shout to Dot and we soon had Gipsy Rover on the move. Luckily we had the engine running to charge the batteries. As we pulled back into the bank just above the winding hole the hire boat made his intention clear that he too wanted to moor up for the night. As it turned out there was enough room behind us so everybody was happy. Where we were previously moored at the end of the arm we were on an angle to the bank and in the mud which smelt dreadful whenever it was disturbed by other boat movements.
Today it has been so quiet around the basin with mainly just trip boats coming and going. Even Anglo Welsh have only 4 boats on their moorings. We can only assume that everybody is heading for Llangollen and the Balloon festival this week-end and I'm picking that moorings up there will be at a premium.
Tonight it seems that we have the whole of the Trevor basin to ourselves and it so quiet you could hear a pin drop. It depends on the prevailing wind and tomorrows weather as to whether the Balloons get airborne and could possibly drift in our direction, so we may see some of the action even though we are 4 miles away.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Still moored at Trevor Basin.
Our final morning together was a laid back affair with pancakes for breakfast just for a change. Jenny and I took it in turns to be cook so that we all got them piping hot straight out of the pan. Robin spent the morning with Dot sorting out some computer stuff for their mail.
About 11.30 an early lunch was organised as Robin had a rental car booked for 12 noon.At about 11.50 we wandered down to the Anglo Welsh car park where the rental car company were supposed to pick them up. By 12.30 no sign of them so Robin rang them only to be told they didn't know where to pick them up from and it would be some time before 2pm. That sorted, a car was on it's way, so they reckon. By 1pm still no car so another phone call only to be told "where are you?" They had been told at least 3 times "Anglo Welsh boatyard at Trevor" , what is the matter with these people?
Any way to cut a long story short the car finally arrived close on 2pm with a "local" driver who sounded very Irish to me not Welsh. This shot Robin's plans to bits as he is planning on driving to Birmingham this afternoon so he may be a bit late at his next over night booking.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Yesterday was spent wandering around Llangollen township looking at all the old fashioned shops. With only a small Somerfields supermarket and a SPAR convenience store all the old shops have survived. Besides the many tourist trade shops there is an old fashioned hardware shop that also sells car accessories and camping equipment, 2 butchers shops which are becoming as scarce as hen's teeth, 2 greengrocers, a delicatessen and a variety of other shops selling shoes, clothing, arts and crafts,etc: To me it is a 1950's style town trapped in a time warp but I love it.
On the way back to the boat, because of the late hour, an executive decision was made to go into the Hand Hotel for the Sunday Carvery. For £7.50 each we got an enormous lunch which left no room for any dessert had there been one on offer. We had the choice of beef, pork or turkey, I chose the beef which melted in the mouth and the others all had pork. After this it was a real effort to walk (waddle) back to the boat.
The hotel has quite a history in that the name comes from the bloody red hand in the crest of the Myddleton family of Chirk castle. It started somewhere around the 1800's and was the principle coaching Inn in Llangollen on the London to Holyhead road.
This morning we had a last look around the town starting at the Harp and Doves monument by the Eisteddfod centre. This monument is made of polished stainless steel and depicts a Welsh harp with Doves flying around it. As it is a bank holiday week-end a lot of shops were closed but even at 10am the place was still alive with tourists.
After lunch it was time to cast off from the jetty and say farewell to Llangollen and head back to Trevor. Just as we came through the township the trip boat to Trevor and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was ready to leave so we pulled in and let him pass as he has a schedule to maintain where we don't. In a way it was just as well we did because we met so many hire boats coming through the narrow's and ran aground numerous times in our attempts to let them pass. As usual there was 1 grumpy old git that complained he had run aground and it was my fault but we politely pointed out that we too were aground.
Upon reaching Trevor we turned right and went over the aqueduct ourselves as far as the lift bridge where we winded and went back over the Aqueduct again as Robin and Jenny may never get the opportunity ever again. It was quite windy out over the river Dee but it was pushing us into the towpath side of the aqueduct which meant we were sliding along the wooden rub rail most of the time.
Back in Trevor basin we winded and got back into the same mooring we had last time despite being told by another boater that it wasn't deep enough. It just means we are in about 18inches of water and the rest mud, but we are afloat.
1422 locks, 2065 miles, 48 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 29 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Sunday, 24 August 2008
The first mile out of Trevor we were having some difficulty with shallow water. BW claim the water is about 2 ½ ft deep but our draft is only 23 inches and yet we ran aground about 5 times before we reached Llangollen. Before we reached the narrow sections of the canal we met a hire boat on the wrong side of the canal. I slowed down but kept power on to maintain steerage but he didn't seem to know what to do and was too slow in moving over and finished up ramming us. All we got from the youth on the tiller was a mouthful of abuse and blaming us for being in the wrong. Bloody ignorant scouse!
As we approached the narrows I left the boat and walked ahead with a walkie talkie and left Robin on the tiller. In the second narrow section Robin apparently got stuck where rock had fallen down from the steep rock face reducing water depth. I only had to warn 1 boat that 2 boats were coming through the narrows and stop a day hire boat just as he was leaving the Llangollen basin.When we arrived in the basin there were plenty of moorings available but tonight the place is just about full.
After lunch we walked into town with the intention of walking to the Somerfield supermarket for bread and milk but we got side tracked and caught the 2pm steam train from Llangollen to Carriog instead. This train was hauled by an ex GWR 2-8-0 loco. At Carriog we alighted and had a look around the nearby camping site before returning on the same train to Berwyn. Here we alighted again with the purpose on walking to the Horseshoe Falls where the river Dee supplies the water to the canal.
After looking at the weir and canal headwaters we walked back to Berwyn station to catch the 4.25 back to Llangollen. This train was hauled by an ex LMS 0-6-0 4F. While waiting for our train the next train to Carriog came through with the headboard "Wedding Belle" on the loco and one complete carriage had been booked for a wedding reception. Novel!
Back in Llangollen we only got as far as the SPAR store and bought our bread and milk there. On the way back to the boat we spotted a fish and chip restaurant and decided that as it was late we would eat out again tonight. Lovely fish and chips all round. When we went into the restaurant it was just starting to drizzle with rain but by the time we had finished our meal and were ready to move on it was raining quite heavily. Wouldn't you just know it! Mind you it was not as bad as the poor wedding party who had just arrived back on the train and were being piped by a Scottish piper across town to the hotel. One bridesmaid was very wet and just about sliding out of her strapless gown.
1422 locks, 2060 miles, 48 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 28 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Saturday, 23 August 2008
0 Locks, 5 Miles, 2 Aqueducts, 2 Tunnels, 1 Lift Bridge. Now moored at Trevor Basin.
It was a case of fingers crossed regarding the weather when we set off this morning because even though it was blue skies there were a few black clouds lurking on the horizon. We were hoping for a fine day for Robin and Jenny's trip across the Chirk and Pontcyllte Aqueducts. We had already walked the Chirk aqueduct the night before so they knew what to expect as far as this aqueduct was concerned but the Pontcyllte was going to be a huge surprise.
There were a few boats on the move early which meant we had to wait for one tunnel and the Chirk aqueduct to clear before we could pass. Travelling through the tunnels was hard work due to the water pressure continually pushing us into the offside wall. By the time we had cleared both tunnels my right shoulder was feeling rather sore after the continuous battle on the the tiller.
Going across the Pontcyllte aqueduct was an easy run except for the very cold wind blowing across by the time we reached the centre. Being a fine day meant there were plenty of Gongoozlers to watch us as we reached the Trevor end of the aqueduct.
Upon arrival at the Trevor basin we had to negotiate between the many Anglo Welsh hire boats to the winding hole from where we reversed to the rear of the old canal/railway basin. There is an old tunnel at the end of the basin which used to carry the canal another 3 miles up to some factories. The other side of the tunnel has been filled in and is the site of a chemical works and many warehouses which are due to close at the end of the year. Rumour has it that there has been proposal to build a new marina on part of the site bringing jobs to the area and much needed extra moorings
After lunch we set off on foot to inspect Telford's master piece especially after BW's recent major overhaul in which the trough was repainted, resealed and all the nuts and bolts holding it together were replaced. When you consider that building the aqueduct took 10 years to complete,was opened in 1805, it was testament to the skill of the engineers and labourers of the time, especially as they didn't have the labour saving devices we have today.
The aqueduct is 1007 ft long, 11ft 10ins wide, and 5ft 3ins deep and stands on 18 stone piers, the highest of which stands 126 feet above the river Dee.
1422 locks, 2055 miles, 48 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 27 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Friday, 22 August 2008
2 Locks, 11 Miles, 1 tunnel. Now moored at the Poachers Pocket.
Our friendly squirrel awoke us this morning by pelting us with more acorns or parts thereof again which had to be cleaned off before we could remove the stern cover. At least it was fine to start of with this morning when we set off for Ellesmere tunnel. This was Robin and Jenny's first experience of a canal tunnel.
As the canal was getting narrower and becoming shallower many boats were running aground in their attempts to pass each other but most of them managed to re-float themselves and carry on. We came across one boat with 3 damsels in distress who were well and truly aground. As we passed by we offered some advice which didn't work so we reversed back to them, took their stern rope on board and tied it to our mooring post and towed them clear. That was our good deed for the day.
By the time we reached New Marton locks it had started to rain with the occasional roll of thunder in the distance and there were some real black clouds on the horizon. This didn't go well with the fact that we were in a queue of 5 boats at the first lock. Due to some boat crews dithering about it was an hour and a half before we finally got into the lock but at least this spread the boats out by the time we reached the second lock.
It was not long after this that the skies opened up and we had a real downpour for nearly 15 minutes. It rained so hard that the roof drains couldn't cope and the roof literally filled with water up to the hand grip which meant about 2 inches of water sitting on the roof. Robin had pulled the tonneau cover over the stern and sat underneath it leaving me to weather the storm. The rain finally eased but we still had to put up with occasional showers right up until we moored at the Poachers Pocket pub.
After drying and thawing out we thought that the weather had improved sufficiently for us to go for a walk and have a look at the Chirk aqueduct and railway bridge. We started out on the towpath but it was so muddy that we opted to try the nearby road even though we were not sure if it would take us near the aqueduct. As it turned out we found the aqueduct and viaduct which we photographed from below and then retraced our steps partway before trying our luck on another road which lead back to the canal and a tar sealed towpath right up to the Aqueduct. We walked across the Aqueduct talking to the crew of a boat making its away across to the Chirk tunnel and crossed into Wales again.
Before we had left the boat Jenny had put some chicken pieces in a marinade that she had concocted so by the time we got back to the boat the chicken was ready for the pan and it turned out to be a delicious meal which was enjoyed by all.
1422 locks, 2050 miles, 46 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 26 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Thursday, 21 August 2008
0 Locks, 7 Miles, 1 Lift bridge. Now moored at Blake Mere.
It was a leisurely start this morning with Robin and I visiting "The Barn" canal side shop for another fresh loaf of bread and a date and walnut cake for morning tea. The cake was to replace a packet of lemon shortcake biscuits that Jenny had bought with her which only survived until yesterdays afternoon tea. They were yummie.
We eventually set off around 9.30 with plenty of hire boats heading home in the opposite direction after their race to reach Llangollen, several we met at bridge holes but they all hove too and let us pass so not all boat hirers push on regardless. At bridge 48 we called in at the water point and upon mooring up wondered where a terrible smell was coming from. It turned out that we had a very dead dog or calf wrapped around our bow which eventually drifted away taking the smell with it.
The only lift bridge today carries a country lane across the canal and actually lowers right down to water level where most lift bridges have at least a foot or so clearance above the water. We have also seen 3 Kingfishers today but still no success with photographing any of them.
Just after the junction with the Prees branch of the canal we passed over the boundary from England into Wales and travelled along tree lined 'tunnels' where we were completely engulfed by woodlands. Once we reached the lakes or Meres as they are known around here we started to look for suitable mooring which we found by Blake Mere complete with our own picnic table for a BBQ if the weather stays fine.
While sorting out things on the stern deck I found myself being pelted by acorns or parts of. The culprit was a grey squirrel sitting up in the Oak tree above me stuffing his face as fast as he good go in preparation for the forth coming winter.
1420 locks, 2039 miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 26 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
6 Locks, 5 Miles, 4 Lift bridges. Now moored at ( bridge 43) cancel that, bridge 44.
Even though our overnight mooring should have been very peaceful and quiet we were all awake just after 6am, which wasn't a surprise as it had been blowing a gale half the night. So it was an early breakfast and an 8am start towards Grindley Brook locks and staircase flight. We started off in overcast conditions but we hadn't gone far when it started to rain AGAIN. As it turned out we were not the only early birds as there were 2 boats ahead of us when we arrived at lock 6.The first boat was well ahead of us as he cleared the top of the staircase flight just as we entered the bottom. After we had done the first 3 locks I went in search of the BW lock keeper and he gave the OK to follow the preceding boat up the staircase.
By the time we reached our mooring ( Platt Lane bridge) for the night the hire boats were coming through thick and fast and of course we just happened to moor near the bridge hole which is blind from both directions so there were hire boats jostling for position all over the place.
After lunch we went for a walk into the village such as it is with a detour to the local farm shop selling eggs, potato's and fresh ice cream. Unfortunately they have suspended making the ice cream for the time being as they have bought the Waggoner Inn pub on the other side of the village which was burnt out some time ago and are concentrating on rebuilding and re-opening it early next year.
I returned to the boat to catch up on doing the blog while the others carried on to find a craft shop somewhere close by but when they finally returned they had also found a shop selling hot fresh bread and freshly picked vegetables and reported that there were much better moorings further up the canal. So while I finish writing this Robin and Dot are moving the boat to a new overnight mooring just short of bridge 44.
1420 locks, 2032 miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 25 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
4 locks, 6 Miles, 1 Lift bridge. Now moored at bridge 26.
Today was going to be a busy day as we were expecting a Tesco's delivery between 9am and 11am and then we had race off down to the railway station to meet Robin and Jenny, our caravan club friends from NZ, off the 11.41 am train. First of all though we had to move up through bridge 20 so that we were closer to the road for the Tesco delivery, this we did at about 7.30 before anybody else was stirring.
As the morning wore on we were becoming a little nervous that Mr Tesco wasn't going to arrive until 11 and then we would be hard pushed to get to the railway station on time. While waiting up at the road side I became involved in helping some hire boaters get through the lift bridge. One of them turned off his engine to remove the key as his BW key to operate the bridge was on 1 key ring. This was OK until after he had been bow hauled through the bridge gap. When he tried to restart the engine he found that his battery was flat and the engine wouldn't turn over. The hirer must have had a previous experience like this as he was carrying a pair of jumper leads which he produced but was unsure of how to use them. I had a look down the engine hole and all I could see were dirty battery terminals so rather than mess with them I tried to restart the engine and the battery had recovered sufficiently enough to turn the engine over and it fired first shot. Are hire companies so pushed for time that they cannot maintain their boats properly or is it a case of trying to reduce overhead's? I wonder.
When I walked back to the boat there was another hire boat who's hirer had just started the engine and was concerned that the ignition light wouldn't go out so I suggested that he give the engine a quick rev up and the problem would be solved. This he did and the light went off so another satisfied boater.
Mr Tesco finally arrived at 10.40 so we quickly packed away the chilled goods and left the rest until we returned from the station with Robin and Jenny in tow. After stowing their cases on board we set off for our next mooring which was to be near bridge 26 ready to take on the Grindley Brook locks the next day. Along the way Robin came and joined me on the stern and at the appropriate time he had the tiller thrust into his hand and told "Here you are have a go on this ". Being somebody who is used to manoeuvring caravans he soon got the hang of it.
Needless to say that having not seen Robin and Jenny for nearly 2 years there was a lot of catching up to be down and the TV never even got a second glance.
1414 locks, 2027 miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 21 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Early Friday morning we left Nantwich to try and beat the crowd at the Hurleston locks. Just North of the Nantwich Aqueduct we called into the BW service centre for water etc before going onto the Llangollen canal where these things will be in great demand with all the hire boats and there will probably be delays.
As we were negotiating bridge 97 to turn onto the Llangollen canal we were forced to back track to allow another boat to clear the junction having just exited the Hurleston flight where we were heading. At least the lock was set in our favour which was a good start. At the third lock we met up with the lady lock keeper which was a bonus getting us to the top fairly rapidly.
It was certainly noticeable that our speed and engine revs differed from cruising the Shroppie in that punching into the flow we were definitely slower at 1200 revs. After several attempts to find a suitable mooring we eventually moored near bridge 11 where we had planned to stay for 2 nights.
With more uncertain weather forecast for Sunday we decided to move closer to Wrenbury a day earlier than planned. Moving off earlier than normal proved to be beneficial again because since mooring up there has been a constant flow of mostly hire boats and moorings are at a premium. We will stay here until Monday morning when we will move up closer to lift bridge 20 where we have another Tesco delivery organised and we will be about as close as possible to the railway station to meet our friends, Robin and Jenny from New Zealand.
After lunch we took our investigative stroll into town to get our bearings for Monday. On the way back from the railway station Dot decided to try and find a quicker short cut across fields and bridlepath's. Unfortunately her usual in built sense of direction let her down (must be something to do with the Welsh air) and we finished up doing a very long route march. Along the way we crossed a large paddock with a herd of young heifers and a few steers. When they spotted us they all came charging across the paddock thinking we were going to feed them I suppose. Poor Dot just about had kittens but as I have worked on a farm in NZ I was not perturbed when they finally stopped about 10 feet from us. As I walked towards them they gradually backed away until they lost interest in us and wandered off. By the time we reached the other side of the paddock the cattle once again spotted us and came charging across the paddock again, this time though they ran up a steep bank towards the road and for one horrible moment I didn't think they were going to stop and I could see them breaking down the fence and breaking out onto the road. Thankfully the first cattle to reach the fence did a quick about turn and as they ran back down the bank they headed the others away from the fence. Silly Moo's.
Walking back through the village Dot demanded an ice cream to help steady her nerves after that little escapade. This evening the weather has turned foul and it is raining rather heavily.
Low flying air balloon last evening when it was much more pleasant than tonight.
1410 locks, 2021 miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 20 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Some of you may have noticed that we have been having problems with our photos. Thank you to the correspondents who answered our query and to Colin who indirectly came up with the answer. He had noticed that when you clicked on the placeholders the photos were being directed to the localhost (us) and not blogger. Now this problem has only arisen in the past when we have had a so called good internet connection with our web n walk dongle running on HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access). The fastest connection supposedly, but for some reason the data is not uploading correctly. OK well Dot sat down and had a think about this and decided to slow down the connection to 2G, although a lot slower it had the desired effect. By checking the html code she can see whether they have uploaded correctly or not. In future we should not have the problem as the draft will alert us to the position that the photos are stored prior to uploading to blogger.
Friday, 15 August 2008
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Last night we had some really heavy rain falls which made a lot of noise on the roof but by this morning it was clear blue skies again. We had been told that to be certain of getting a mooring at Nantwich we should time it so that we arrived around 10am, just as the hire boats are starting to move.
When we arrived at bridge 91 which is the first mooring site around Nantwich another boater asked if we were planning on going into town to which we replied that we were. He then suggested going up closer to the Aqueduct as it was closer to town. So we carried on up to the second batch of moorings which is about ¼ mile before the Aqueduct where we found just one mooring, so it was a case of take it or leave it. As it turned out it was the right decision as the next set of moorings on the other side of the Aqueduct were full.
After lunch we wandered into town for a look and to get our prescriptions from Boots the chemist. The weather had changed back to cloud's with imminent rain so we went prepared but the rain never eventuated until about 7pm. We had a good look around town including the local museum which covered the cheese, salt and boot and shoe industries that were associated with the town.
With the Tudor style buildings and the beautiful gardens and floral display's around the town it was very pleasing on the eye. It was also a pleasure to note the lack of litter although we did see one lady council employee going around picking up what little there was.
1401 locks, 2011½ miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Rather than move the boat about a mile we walked the towpath up to bridge 85 which is less than 1/4 mile from Britain's best kept secret during the Cold War. The Hack Green Nuclear Bunker was built to accommodate the Government and its various departments so that they could carry on with the business of running the country in the case of a nuclear attack from Russia.
Since being de-commissioned the bunker has been taken over by private enterprise and set up as a museum of the Cold War era which in actual fact is just as relevant today with so many country's insisting on their right to own nuclear arm's.
The bunker had its own power generators and air filtration plants so that up to 40 people could live down in the bunker for several month's or until it was safe to emerge back out into the open air. It was fully self contained with a hospital, BBC TV station, radio and telephone systems and sufficient food and water for a long enforced stay.
The displays are from both Britain and Russia ranging from uniforms, protective clothing and equipment to many audio visual display's one of which is a 45 minute film simulation of a nuclear attack and its effects. Let's hope that it never happen's again, Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Chernobyl should be reminder enough of what nuclear weapons can do to mankind.
Monday, 11 August 2008
3 Locks, 2½ miles. Now moored at Coole Pilate picnic area.
Yesterday we called into the Audlem Mill and ordered 2 cross stitch kit's which they promised would be ready first thing this morning. Sure enough they were as good as their word because when Dot called in this morning just after they opened the shop they were waiting on the front counter for her. Dot also bought what they call Lap frames to put the Aida cloth on making stitching much easier. I was a little skeptical but after trying one out with the cross stitch I am working on, I found that I more than doubled the work achieved in the same period of time.
After having to wait in a queue at Audlem to fill the water tank we eventually got away just after 9.30am. Dot was on the boat and I was doing the locks. Just as we had got into the first lock it started to drizzle with rain. I grabbed my parka that was ready just in case but by the time we reached the 2nd lock the sun had come out again so I disposed of the parka as I was getting rather warm. Upon reaching the 3rd lock the sky clouded over again rather quickly and we got a real good downpour this time but my parka was on the boat midstream so I got rather wet. Damn silly weather. We only had a short distance to travel to our next mooring but we had gone from a tree covered protected cutting to flat open country where it was blowing a virtual gale. We had no problem mooring as the wind pushed us into the bank. As the day wore on the the wind never abated but got very cold making it feel like winter.
1399 locks, 2007½ miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Saturday, 9 August 2008
10 locks, 1 Mile. Now moored at Audlem Mill.
Despite the weather forecast we set off about 8.30 in dry overcast conditions but we had only gone down 2 locks when it started to drizzle, so much for "Red sky at night ,shepherd's delight". Unfortunately the locks were all set against us so progress was slow. We did meet a couple of boats going in the opposite direction in the flight but it has been generally quiet.
The fruit and vegetable box at lock 9 was up and running with cooking apples, marrows and some rather large zucchini's. There were also a few posies' of flowers. As the apples were a good size we purchased a bag of 3 apples for 50p, all we have to do now is find some blackberries for a crumble or pie, yummy, can't wait.
By the time we reached Audlem it was raining quite heavily and we were starting to get rather sodden so we pulled in by the Mill and called it quits for the day. If the weather improves later we will wander off into town for a visit.
A big hello again to Mark and Mandy from Nb Marala who we briefly spoke to a few days ago. Thanks for the email and photo of your greyhound Clint on the back of the boat.
1396 locks, 2005 miles, 45 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006