Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Ferry, on the Mersey.

0 Locks, 11 ½ Miles. Now moored at Devil's Garden.

Despite a light shower of rain this morning we left Dutton Lock and headed down river towards Weston Marsh Lock. For a while the weather stayed dry but the further down river we got the situation began to change quite rapidly. By the time we reached Weston Marsh lock we had had quite a few good down pours.

Despite this we moored against the wall above the lock and very gingerly went ashore. The reason I say gingerly was because the wall was higher than our roof and the only ladder was 4 rungs recessed into the wall and a hand rail on the top of the wall. It wasn't the easiest of lock ladders to climb especially in the wet conditions.

After having a good look at the Manchester Ship Canal and taking some photo's we returned to the boat for a warm drink and check out the Internet. As it was a good signal we stayed for a while to update the blog before setting off back up stream. We decided not to stay over night because  the smell/fumes from the ICI plant was upsetting Dot's breathing even though we were up wind of the place. Just as we started to back away from the wall to turn upstream we caught site of what was presumably a Mersey ferry boat heading up the Ship Canal towards Runcorn and neither of us had our camera to hand. Damn!

As we neared Frodsham Cut we spotted another narrowboat winding and heading back up stream. We followed him to Devil's Garden where he also moored. Initially I tried to moor in front of this other boat but found submerged rocks in the way so I had to go about again and come in behind him which proved successful but only just, as we can see submerged rocks just under the bow.

1469 locks, 3081 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 29 September 2008

Back Against the Wall

At Weston Marsh Lock overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal, ICI Chemicals in the background.

Wreck at Duttons Lock

Saltersford Lock

Locking Down the Weaver

2 Locks, 6½ Miles. Now moored below Dutton Lock.

First of all thanks to Steve of the BBC Manchester for your email. Were you in the picture by any chance Steve?

After a sleepless night ,the night club on the opposite bank kept us awake until 2am, we moved up to the BW facilities for water and use the toilet. The water was no problem but the toilet was another matter. The cistern didn't seem to have enough oomph to flush the bowl properly so being the handy kiwi that I am, I got out our bucket and gave it a real good flush. After about the 4th bucket load I found raw sewage coming back up the drain outside which is under the water tap, don't want any of that in our water thank you very much! After a good look around there were signs that this had been going on for some time. After hosing the yard down we eventually got under way heading back down river from whence we had come.

We got a good view of the lift as we passed by and took some more photo's. After leaving the salt works in the distance the scenery started to improve. At Saltersford lock we made contact with the lock keeper and I passed on greetings from Iain and Myra on Nb Martlet which he returned with thanks and I then gave him a written complaint about the Northwich toilets to pass onto his superiors. He had a quick read and was immediately on the phone to get it fixed smartly. Now that's what I call service.

Now to change the subject, these locks are enormous even compared to the Thames locks. We looked about as big a dinghy all alone in the lock which I would hazard a guess and say that you could probably get 12 to 15 narrowboats in all at once. What caught my eye was the railway semaphore signals at both end of the lock. The lock keeper informed me that in the days when steam ships used to regularly call up river the lock were manned 24/7. There were not as many tree's along the banks in those days and the skippers on the ships could see the signals from up to half a mile away. They could see which lock was in operation and if there was any likelihood of a ship coming from the opposite direction giving them time to slow themselves down or even hove to until the way was clear. Of course they are not in use today, just a reminder of the past.

Now we passed under 3 swing bridges today which I haven't included in our running total as we didn't need to open them, reason being they were so big and high and are all electrically operated by BW if and when any large or tall ships, i.e yachts, come to visit. The last and largest ship ever to come up river was back in 1984.

As we approached Dutton lock we spotted this old wreck slowly rotting away in the reeds. It transpires that the owner had it registered in the name of a fictitious company so that he couldn't be held responsible for it. Fifteen years later and BW would still like to get it shifted but the real owner has since died so BW are left holding the baby. They reckon it will cost £60.000 to get it moved so anybody out there want a restoration project or a few tonnes of scrap metal, its all there for the taking.

The lock keeper apologised for the slowness of the lock emptying but explained that one of the paddles was broken and they were waiting for a resource consent to get it repaired because the locks are listed buildings. Listed buildings is fine but the paddle goes under water were nobody can see it for Pete's sake. Is this bureaucracy gone mad or what?

Once through the lock we just spun around onto the visitor mooring with water point supplied where we will stay the night. It's certainly a lot quieter than last night and we haven't even seen or heard a train on the Dutton railway viaduct just down stream from us.

1469 locks, 3069½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Anderton Lift's most publicised view.



Heading downstream from Northwich this morning we passed the lift again, still majestic without the blue sky of yesterday

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Anderton Lift

Looking up....

And going down, River Weaver ground floor.....

Locking down was never like this.

0 Locks, 9½ Miles. Now moored at Northwich .

We arose to another misty landscape this morning but as there was little in the way of cloud cover the sun soon broke through making a brilliant day for cruising. The trip to Anderton took longer than we had envisaged due to the many boats moored along the way which slowed us down.

The trip up to Broken Cross was very pleasant being mainly rural but this all changed when we passed through the chemical works. The canal virtually goes through the middle of the plant with many, many pipes of various diameters passing over our heads and lots of steam emanating from all over the place, it reminded us of a place called Waireki in New Zealand where there is a thermal driven power station. Just beyond this is the site of the original Lion Salt Works which is in a bit of a sorry state but there are moves afoot to restore the place. It has a museum and tribute to the salt industry of the district on site which is open for limited hours.

As we neared Anderton we found the 200 acre Marbury Country Park on our right which is a park/forest with many walkways through it and obviously a very popular spot to visit as the walkways were well worn. The park is part of the old Marbury Hall estate and is looked after by the Cheshire County Heritage and Recreation. I suppose with all the gloom of the salt and chemical plants around here the locals need somewhere nice to visit.

On arrival at the Anderton Boat Lift we were greeted by a BW employee and shown where to book our passage down to the River Weaver which took place at 13.45hrs. While waiting we could hear rifles or guns being fired and it turns out that the local gun club have a firing range close by. We travelled down in the lift in company with a hire boat, the crew of which had arranged a surprise trip for their mothers 60th birthday.

Entry on to the lift was different to what I had expected as you go into a holding pen to start off with. The gate is closed behind you before the gate into the actual caisson is opened when both boats enter the caisson together. The gate was then lowered behind us and once we were securely moored up to bollards on the side of the caisson we waited with baited breath for the lift to start descending. It started off very slowly in a bit of a jerky motion but soon settled down to a very smooth trip. The view over the river from the lift was great except for the huge ICI plant on the opposite bank. We noted with some amusement a sign offering 4 acres of waste land for sale alongside the ICI plant. Other than grazing goats it wouldn't be much use for anything else because nobody would want to live there.

After exiting the lift we turned left to head up river towards Northwich which is actually bounded by both the river Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal which we had been on earlier today. We tried to moor on the visitor moorings just up river from the lift. There was only one opening available due to fisherman using the other spots and unfortunately we got stuck on a submerged concrete block. After some time of trying to get off this obstacle we eventually enlisted the aid of a passing boat who towed us free. We had no option after this but to keep going until we found the Baron's Quay moorings in Northwich. Here we found 3 boats spread out along the Quay taking up the space of five. I pulled in close to one of them and politely asked him if he would mind moving up to allow us to moor. The response I got was that "there are moorings over there" and he just turned his back on us. Arrogant sod!

We crossed to the other bank and moored at the back of the moorings for the BW services although there are more moorings on the same bank on the other side of the town swing bridge. A couple of hours later the 3 boats opposite untied, winded and set off down river so it wouldn't have hurt one them to have been a bit more courteous to a fellow boater.

1467 locks, 3063 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

The Anderton Lift - Wow


And what a lovely day it was too.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Unexplored Territory of the Trent & Mersey.

6 Locks, 3½ Miles. Now moored above bridge 176 Trent & Mersey.

The land was covered in a haze of mist this morning with the sun vainly trying to break through the cloud cover. The run down to Middlewich was uneventful except for spotting Nb Felis Catus III belonging to canal stalwart, the late Mike Stevens and his wife, Wendy. From the outward appearance of the boat it doesn't appear to have done much since Mike passed away which is a shame as it is a beautiful boat and was designed with cruising in mind.

Once on the Trent & Mersey canal we watered up and found the town moorings to make a visit to Tesco's. By this time the sun was really making its presence felt which was great. Passing the Croxton Flash was an experience with this huge lake off to the side of the canal and just 2 white marker posts indicating where the non towpath side of the canal was with just the occasional rock breaking the surface of the water. The lake or Flash was created by subsidence create by the old salt mining that has been the life blood of this area since Roman days.

We are now moored in a very nice location out in the country but we can still hear the traffic noise from the nearby main road. From here its only about 7 lock free miles to the Anderton Lift where we will drop down onto the River Weaver tomorrow.

1467 locks, 3053½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 26 September 2008

Very Scenic.

2 Locks, 7 Miles. Now moored above Stanthorne Lock.

It seemed that everybody had the same idea of an early start because 3 boats had arrived at the lock before we got started this morning. Still we couldn't start too early as we wanted to get diesel from Venetian marina and they didn't open until 9am. The gentleman that served us gave us a letter from the company about the forthcoming changes to the price of red diesel. After reading it I asked him why it only made a 60/40 split of propulsion/heating, what about power generation for live aboards? To this he couldn't give me an answer but he did say that unless a boater was silly enough to claim 100% for heating and power only, no propulsion, HM Customs don't have the resources to be able to police it. BW rules forbid the practice of  running your engine in gear whilst moored along the towpath so therefore to comply with BW you should cruise just to charge your batteries so what are we doing , cruising or charging the batteries? To this I say "Prove It".  Basically the whole thing could turn out to be a huge white elephant that nobody wants. If the French can ignore EU directives that they don't like why can't Britain? I personally have done some homework and I am thinking 10/90 split in our case, time will tell.

The rural scene along this canal is brilliant with well trimmed hedges and tidy farm yards, something that you don't see very often. With the canal following the land contours there are several places where you look out over hills and valleys making it a very peaceful outlook indeed.

1461 locks, 3050 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 25 September 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD

Wow 90 years young today, sorry we can't be with you.

Dad and I, isn't he handsome?

On the move again.

0 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored above Cholmondeston lock.

After completing all our business in Nantwich it is time to hit the trail again. We have to be back here by the 6th October so we have a couple of weeks in which to explore some new territory. We will head off towards the Anderton lift on the Trent & Mersey canal for starters and depending on the state of the river Weaver as to how long we stay. After this we will retrace our steps and visit Chester.

A sure sign that the weather is on the down hill slide towards winter. I'm sitting here writing the blog when I hear a strange noise coming from the engine room, it took a few minutes to twig that it was the Mikuni central heating unit starting up. Having not heard it for quite some time I had forgotten what it sounded like, mind you it does have a different tone since it's last overhaul. Ah well, that means an increase in diesel consumption so I had better make sure the emergency supply cans are full. Venetian marina is still at 80p per litre so we will top up there in the morning.

While Dot was scouring the boat blogs that she follows she found an item from Nb Skyy complaining about problems with purchasing filters for an engine service. I can sympathise on this matter as I have had the same problem and have been slowly building up my own cross reference list of oil, air and fuel filters to fit our Isuzu 38 engine because automotive suppliers don't seem to have a cross reference book these days. I can go to somewhere like Halfords or Lucas's and buy an identical filter for half the price of a GENUINE  Isuzu part. I don't think it's necessary to pay double the price just to have the words GENUINE PART  printed on the outside after all it's what's on the inside that counts and if you service the engine regularly you won't have any problem.

In nearly 2 years I have only found a couple of independent automotive suppliers that do still have cross reference books. I suppose I should be supporting the canal side chandleries but I find that majority of them are not competitive price wise. After all we are living within a budget and every quid saved is a quid for something else.

1459 locks, 3043 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 22 September 2008

Back in Nantwich.

0 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored at the Aqueduct Nantwich.

After some brilliant weather over the week-end, today was a change of season's again with it being cool and overcast. We started off with reversing back to the winding hole to turn and head back to Nantwich so that Dot can collect her new "T" Mobile dongle which hopefully will be at the Nantwich Post Office by tomorrow. All being well we will also be on a new cheaper contract costing us half of the previous plan. I also have a doctors appointment as my new medication is giving me breathing problems.

When we arrived back at Nantwich we stopped at the BW facilities for water and found plenty of moorings available. We finished up close to the aqueduct which is handy to town but within an hour of mooring up boats started to arrive in their droves and in no time at all the moorings were full. It was just as well that we set off early this morning otherwise we could have well missed out and finished up miles away.

1459 locks, 3038 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Gateway to the Llangollen Canal


Hurleston Locks

Pottering about.

0 Locks, 7 Miles. Now moored between bridges 4 & 5 Middlewich Branch Shropshire Union Canal

Saturday we had arranged a lunchtime meeting with Syd and Maureen "Nb Terhou" at The Barbridge Inn so we had to travel about a mile to the nearest winding hole to head north in the direction of Chester. We had met Syd and Maureen on the River Thames last year at Cullam lock during the May flooding along with Derek and Christina on "Nb Kalimera".

I think it was the first time we have actually moored on pub moorings which we did to make it easy for them to find us. It transpires that our guests, Wilma and Bunty, who were with us at the time had kept in contact with Syd and Maureen and had invited them to New Zealand so they were keen to talk to us about their forthcoming arrangements for the visit to the Antipodes. After a very nice lunch which we had in brilliant sunshine out in the beer garden we wished them well for their forthcoming journey.

As it was a beautiful day we decided to do a short cruise up the Middlewich branch to visit Midway Marine and Venetian chandleries to pick up supplies in preparation for next months dry docking. From Nantwich all the way through to Venetian Marine this canal is obviously very popular with plenty of boat movements and moorings very much in demand.  Monday morning we will head back to Nantwich for a few days and then hopefully head off to the Anderton Lift.

Granny Wytch Not Buttons

Sorry Andrew couldn't resist it, seen at Nantwich

Friday, 19 September 2008

An Indian summer perhaps?

9 Locks, 8 Miles, 2 Lift bridges. Now moored at Nantwich.

It had the makings of a summers day as we set off from Wrenbury this morning. There was still a hint of mist on the horizon but as the day wore on the sun made its presence felt, glorious. We had the mis-fortune of crossing paths with a hire boat where the crew didn't have much expertise in the handling of a narrow boat. At one lock they somehow managed to finish up wedged against the bywash weir and a short time later we passed them moored up but it wasn't long before they finished up broadside across the cut having not moored up securely.

Since mooring up we have met an Australian couple living on a narrowboat but they return to Australia for the English winter. We also bumped into the NZ couple on the Valley Cruisers hire boat that we briefly spoke to on Tuesday, needless to say we had a good old chinwag.

1459 locks, 3026 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Rope lengths on Llangollen Canal?



Whilst heading down the Llangollen Canal today we spotted these new bollards at Adderley locks. Now I know not many boats use them at narrow locks but these are placed over 8 foot from the locks edge. Ridiculous! You would need at least 20 foot of rope before even descending the lock let alone any extra rope needed when the lock had emptied. Have BW gone mad? or do they feel a need to waste our monies so that they can increase our licence fees.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Grindley Brook Lock Cottage

Return to Wrenbury.

10 locks, 7 Miles, 1 Lift bridge. Now moored at Wrenbury.

It was time to move before we got hemmed in by all the boats expected for this week-ends Whitchurch festival. We had thoroughly explored the old canal route and what is planned for the re-development of the canal to a new basin just short of the original. The land is sitting there awaiting redevelopment so I guess its just a case of when the money rolls in and they can get things moving.

Just before 8am we slipped our moorings as we knew it was going to be a long slow day. As you cannot turn right out of the Whitchurch it meant a short journey back up stream to bridge 31a to the winding hole before heading towards Wrenbury. The Grindley Brook staircase locks were our first delay as the lock keeper already had boats in the system heading up stream. Once through these we struck it lucky with more boats travelling in the opposite direction which left the locks set in our favour so we didn't have too many more delays.

The weather for today was supposed to be fine but the sun didn't manage to break through the cloud cover until mid afternoon. Still I suppose we should be grateful for just a couple of hours sunshine. After mooring up by the Dusty Miller pub we had a late lunch and about 4pm we thought that it was time to get out and stretch our legs. We didn't get far when we got a phone call from the Tesco delivery man. He wasn't due until between 5pm and 7pm but he apologised profusely that he was running early and would it be convenient to accept our delivery in 10 minutes time. Naturally we told him that would be fine and headed back to the boat to await his arrival. This was a turn up for the books as they normally arrive within the last 15 minutes of the delivery slot. After stowing the groceries we again went off for a short walk.

Now something I forgot to mention in the last blog was that we passed a Valley Cruiser hire boat proudly displaying a NZ flag. In the brief conversation as we passed each other ( sorry guys we didn't get your names) it transpired that the crew were from Auckland who are hiring the boat for 6 weeks, and have been following our blog for sometime. Do I take it that our blog has been instrumental in more Kiwi's experiencing life on the "Cut", are we leading Kiwi's astray somewhere along the way, I wonder?

1450 locks, 3018 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 37 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

A Fruitful Day.

0 Locks, 6 Miles, 3 Lift bridges. Now moored at Whitchurch

As the weather forecast for today was rain we set off early while it was still dry, not that we needed to have worried as the rain never eventuated to more than occasional drizzle.

We only had to operate one lift bridge ourselves as we timed it nicely at the other two bridges and hire boat crews did it for us. While waiting for Dot to motor through this first bridge I spotted an Apple tree heavily laden with fruit overhanging the canal side so I filled my pockets with some of the blemished fruit.

We were contemplating some more blackberry and apple crumble but it has not been a good blackberry season this summer. We had no sooner finished talking about them when we spotted a bumper crop on a little used section of towpath. Within minutes we were ashore with two one litre icecream containers which we filled in no time at all with some of the juiciest blackberries we have seen this year. That's dessert sorted for the next few days.

As we were passing the Viking Afloat boat yard which is near the Whitchurch Arm we had to stop and pull into the towpath as a private boater had tried to wind on the wrong side of bridge 31A. The winding hole is on the other side of the bridge but where he was trying to wind was just wide enough for him to get jammed bank to bank across the canal. What a burke! Eventually 3 passersby stopped and helped him pull the boat around using his stern rope, but it took a hell of a lot heaving and puffing to get him shifted.

From here it was only a short run to the Whitchurch basin where we are now moored. Some of the historic boats have started to arrive for this week-ends festival but we will leave here on Wednesday morning for Wrenbury.

On our walk into town along the old towpath we passed a new house being constructed which had in its back garden a real old Burton showman or Gypsy caravan.

1440 locks, 3011 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 36 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 15 September 2008

Red Sky at Night.....!

Prees Branch, Llangollen Canal.

0 Locks, 9 Miles, 3 Lift bridges, 1 Tunnel. Now moored on the Prees Branch.

We decided that we had seen all there was to see at Ellesmere and to get a head start on all the boats at the festival we slipped our moorings and headed for Prees junction.  As we left we could hear the church service in full swing in the marquee.

There were still plenty of hire boats heading for Llangollen and we found ourselves grounded several times in our attempts to avoid some of them. At Prees junction we turned right onto the Prees branch which is only navigable for about a mile with 2 lift bridges and 1 road bridge. When we reached the end of the navigation by Whixall marina we winded but didn't fancy the unkempt public towpath moorings so we moved back to our current position where the moorings are in better condition.

1440 locks, 3005 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 33 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Decorated boats at Ellesmere Festival at the weekend









Sunday, 14 September 2008

Summer comes to Ellesmere Festival

Still moored at Ellesmere.

Why couldn't the weather have been like this last week-end? It has been a glorious summers day today and has bought the populace out in their numbers to visit the Ellesmere Festival. Even the local businesses have taken the opportunity to reap some of the tourist spending that goes with a function such as this.

Some of the boat people turned out in period costume and the towpath was an absolute hive of activity to the extent that it was no use trying to go anywhere in a hurry, you just had to go with the flow. The canal was the scene of a couple of steam driven vessels pottering backwards and forwards which all added to the atmosphere.


Traditional Boatwoman's dress and bonnet

Steam powered Mariamne

This evening we walked the towpath to check out the boat illuminations with the best displays being of Wallace and Gromit and a Beam me up Scotty space theme. During the day there are plenty of boats with flags, buntings and non illuminated displays giving the canal basin a real festive feel. While out and about we could hear the superb music emanating from the main festival tent where a Hog roast dinner had taken place earlier. We had tried to get tickets for this but it had been sold out some time ago. Still, we at least got to hear the after dinner entertainment for nought.

After dark Illuminations on the Llangollen Canal at Ellesmere

We've a Hitchhiker

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Ellesmere Festival

4 Locks 4 Miles. Now moored at Ellesmere just West of the BW works yard.


Staircase Frankton Locks

Our time on the Montgomery has come to an end and we were booked to exit through the Frankton flight at noon. When we made contact with the lock keeper he told us that 12 boats were leaving the Monty and only 2 were booked to enter. This of course created a problem with the water level in the pounds between locks 2 and 3. While we were waiting in this pound we finished up high and dry with more of the rudder showing than usual. The lock keeper let an extra lock full of water down before he brought the next boat down so as to keep us all afloat.


4 Locks drop the canal on to the Montgomery Canal nearly 31 foot below

Once back out on the mainline we met up with plenty of hire boats which there has been a conspicuous absence of on the Monty. It was a good cruising day, warm and slightly overcast but we were in no hurry as we were not going far. It was good to see that most of the grain crops we had seen earlier had finally been harvested.

We had been given some tips on where we might find a mooring near the festival site at Ellesmere but the first one proved to be too shallow, typical! However we found one about 100 yards further on which is just outside the reserved moorings for the festival.

After getting our selves organised we walked into town past all the 50 odd boats that were being decorated for the best decorated boat competition. Some of them are real works of art so when they are complete we will put some piccies of the best ones on the blog. Tonight there is to be a fireworks display so that's something to look forward to.

1440 locks, 2096 miles, 50 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 30 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 12 September 2008

Swift Packet Boat Terminal on the Montgomery Canal


Was previously connected to the Chester to Shrewsbury Railway in the background

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Canal Central Beautiful Accommodation

View from the open plan lounge/kitchen
Kitchen Area

One of the two double bedrooms

Canal Central Maesbury Marsh

4 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored at the facilities block Weston Arm.

As the fickle minded weather appeared to be fine and overcast today we decided to head back to the Weston Arm branch and spend a couple of night's there before ascending the Frankton flight on Friday. Before leaving Maesbury we called into Canal Central which was at the heart of the week-end's festival. This little Oasis in the middle of nowhere is a convenience store, Post Office, Information centre, Coffee bar and Visitor Accommodation all rolled into one. The proprietors, Iain & Fiona are very obliging and had ordered some fresh bread for us. Talking to them we found out that Fiona has NZ connection's and we were introduced to her parents who had come to stay for the week-end.

During the course of conversation we were invited to inspect their 2 bedroom apartment above the shop which they let out on short or long term hires. Being on the first floor with an outside balcony there is a magnificent view across the valley towards Welshpool and beyond. The apartment has all the mod cons and comfortably accommodates 4 adults or a family of up to 6. Iain outlined his long term plans for the property which will certainly make it the Canal Central of the Montgomery canal. We wish them well with their endeavours and highly recommend them as being worth a visit.

After the week-end festival Maesbury was virtually deserted except for about 7 permanently moored boats and about 10 remaining visitors. We followed one boat that only went as far as the Queen's Head and passed 3 boats that had just arrived on the Montgomery so it is very quiet along this stretch of the "Cut".

Upon arrival at the Weston Arm we found that the only mooring available was on one of the water points but as all the boat movements for the day have gone through it won't affect anybody if we stay here for the night. We know that 3 of the other boats moored here are leaving tomorrow so we will just shift when they leave.

Wouldn't you just know it, the narrowboat behind us, "Wild Otter", has 2 son's living in Auckland New Zealand and they are going over there in November to escape the English winter. While in New Zealand they will live on an old tug moored near Greenhythe. Is there anybody in Britain without NZ connections?????

1436 locks, 2092 miles, 50 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 30 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Monday, 8 September 2008

Day 2 Maesbury Festival.

Still at Gronwen bridge.

The weather managed to stay dry for day 2 of the Maesbury Festival even though there were plenty of rain clouds hanging around. Just after 10am the fisherman arrived for their competition which was organised by Morgan's the local Angling and Gun store. At the same time a member of the Canal society invited us to join them in dedicating the new milepost recently mounted on the other side of Gronwen bridge where we are currently moored. The unveiling was done by the wife of the owner of Peate's Mill whose dedication plaque is alongside of the milepost.

As the weather appeared to be staying reasonably fine we set off for a walk around the surrounding lane's and finished up at Redwith bridge No 83 where the Shropshire Union Canal Society volunteer's were putting in a hard days graft on canal restoration. This bridge had been replaced a couple of years ago and the volunteers were building new channel walls. The towpath up to bridge 84 has been completed and the latter bridge is still standing, from here the canal has been cleared and is the next section for restoration to Crickheath wharf where there is a winding hole. Once this has been completed navigation will be extended from Gronwen bridge to Crickheath wharf.

Our return to the boat was via the towpath where we passed an expensive waterside property where an expensive retaining wall with an inset mooring has been built. We could only assume that the property owner had paid for this himself as we couldn't imagine the Canal society paying for it. A little way further along the canal a new lift bridge has been built just to enable the farmer to access his land on both sides of the canal.

After lunch we walked back to the main festival site where things were starting to wind down and stall holders were in the process of packing up. The only attraction that caught our eye was a steam powered automobile. The owner of this beautifully rebuilt vehicle was not really the chatty kind and was predisposed to keeping people away from the vehicle so I couldn't find out anything about it. When they drove away from the site they sounded their horn (steam whistle) as they approached the bridge. It sounded more like a steam engine (train) than a car so any one hearing it would wonder what the heck was coming towards them.


Sunday, 7 September 2008

Strong Stream Advice River's Nene and Great Ouse

Today we received notification from the Environmental Agency concerning strong stream warning on the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse.  We hope fellow bloggers, Narrowboats 'No Problem', 'Moore 2 Life' and 'Balmaha' are all ok as they are in the area.  We were caught in this situation in May on the River Great Ouse and it sure is scary.

Maesbury (in the mud) Marsh Canal Festival.

Now moored at Gronwen Bridge.

Our mooring at Gronwen Bridge on the Montgomery Canal

Yesterday afternoon we were informed by the festival mooring organiser that the boat booked for our mooring was on his way so we would have to vacate . He did offer to let us breast up but this would severely restrict the width of the canal and we didn't fancy getting rammed by every boat that passed, so we moved up to Gronwen bridge which is at present the limit of navigation. This is only about a 10 minute walk from the festival site so it's no great hardship.

There was another boat who also had to move and he opted to retreat to the Queen's Head moorings but being a solo boater he was unable to proceed to the winding hole due to the lift bridge. As we were going through the lift bridge ourselves we offered to assist him by operating the lift bridge and waiting until he returned from the winding hole before lowering the bridge again.

Last night was a very quiet night except for the occasional downpours of heavy rain which has caused a local stream to flood closing a nearby lane to traffic. There was a very strong flow across the road at a depth of 2 feet.


Nobody's prepared to tackle this at over 2 foot now

This morning started out fine which was a good sign for the festival organisers but just before the official opening it started to rain, wouldn't you just know it! The festival was opened by Heledd Fychan from ITV's "Waterworld" programme and she was presented with a posy of flowers in a model narrowboat. Late morning and the sun did break through for a while which was just starting to dry the muddy site out nicely when there was a torrential downpour sending everybody scurrying for cover. Only a couple of the scheduled exhibitors or stall holders couldn't attend and the model steam railway was unable to set up shop due to the very soft terrain.


Heledd Fychan from ITV's "Waterworld" programme

Talking to one of the event officials while queuing for a hamburger she told us that they were very pleased with the turn out despite the weather and the car park set up in the grounds of Maesbury Boat builders yard was almost full so day 1 appears to have been a success. Hopefully the weather will improve for tomorrow and they get another good turn out.


Shrewsbury Morris Dancers at the festival

Does it ever stop raining in the country? No summer and now river levels are so high all over the country with flooding forecast and unsafe to navigate. Thank goodness we are now back on the canals.

Happy Birthday Richard



We haven't forgotten, have a great day!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Maesbury Marsh Festival

One of the original working boats to be on display this week-end.

One of the last canal carrying companies.

The end of the current limit to navigation but there is water on the other side of the bridge.