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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Wrenbury to Llangollen July 2014 Day 4 Afternoon.

After a nice lunch in Llangollen on Tuesday afternoon we had a stroll around the town. I heard a train pulling in at the station so popped down there for a look, the engine was just running round its train.
GWR 2884 Class running round its train.
We took a stroll on the river, joining others with a cooling paddle in the river Dee. Quite a lot of folk about.
River Dee.
Off for a paddle.
The day was now very hot, so an ice cream was needed then a look around some of the shops, after the usual crafty and gift shops a few foodie goodies where bought for tea, cream cakes, Welsh cakes, and some very nice meat from the butchers.
Leaving the girls at the boat Stephen and I took a walk up to Horseshoe Falls along the feeder canal.
The water was crystal clear, with wavy weeds and plenty of fish about.
Lovely cottage next to Feeder Canal.
We called in at the Chain Bridge Hotel for a drink, the Chain Bridge has seen better days.
Chain Bridge from hotel terrace, Berwyn station on the viaduct.
At Horseshoe falls the locals where having a splash about, clambering over the weir and surfing down the slippery channels.
Horseshoe Falls.
Feeder Channel near the Chain Bridge Hotel.
Walking back we spotted a nice Triumph Vitesse near the motor museum, and nearer town a house on the hillside with a great veranda.
House with Veranda.
When we got back to the basin, dinner was not ready, and the 2 girls where b---y paddling in the shower to cool down their hot feet, and all they had done was walk round town before Stephen and I had walked to the falls.
Paddling in the shower.
After a late dinner, it was feet up time with a couple of ciders, and chatting to other neighbouring boats before turning in.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wrenbury to Llangollen July 2014 Day 4

Tuesday morning we where up earlyish, the previous evening a few late travellers had passed us, possibly heading for a mooring in Chirk and then on to Llangollen so we decided to slip by them all early to get a mooring in Llangollen. We slipped past some moored at Lion Quays and the Poachers Pocket where the moorings where full. With our 31" draught we had our first grounding at bridge 19W just after the Poachers Pocket, for perhaps 10 yards I could feel small rocks or bricks under the skeg.
Sure enough at the narrows at Chirk Bank we passed loads more moored boats, still having breakfast. I made sure I was supplied with bacon butties to keep me going.
Approaching Chirk Bank.
Chirk Bank.
We negotiated the narrow section then rounded the bend and on to Chirk Aqueduct with the Shrewsbury-Chester railway viaduct alongside enjoying the views under the viaduct towards the hills.
Chirk Aqueduct.
View under viaduct.
Drifting boat - backwards with the flow.
Heading for the tunnel.
After the aqueduct due to our deep draught and the flow through the tunnel progress was slow, no point in gunning it as that just pulls you deeper so we chugged slowly through. We then passed the empty Black Prince Hire base, all the boats out, then into Whitehouse Tunnel with the same slow progress. We then entered the start of the concrete lined sections leading up to Froncysyllte where we stopped to get a good view of Pontcysyllte aqueduct.
Approaching the concrete section.
Pontcysyllte aqueduct.
Passing under Fron lift bridge.
Pulling in before the aqueduct we took on water hoping it wasn't slow allowing the late risers to pass us. It was a quick tap so away we went over the aqueduct, one of the wonders of the waterways.
On the Aqueduct.
River Dee.
Casting a shadow.
Turning for Llangollen at Trevor, I easily managed it in one go without hitting anything or using the bow thrusters, we passed through the next concrete lined section, which was to bring more grounding. Right at the end of the section, past bridge 33W, where the trees thin out, for approx 100 yds we ground along the bottom, I knocked it out of gear, and we lifted a little, still scraping along a rocky bottom. The rudder was lifting slightly, but stayed in the skeg, I just gave it a quick knock into gear now and then to keep up momentum and steerage. We eventually cleared the lined channel and took it easier from there.
The problem section where we ground along, just round the corner from
here a hirer was driving stakes into the bank to moor up, we where not
chancing passing him, we soon told him
to move as this was not the right place to moor.
We next went aground near Bryn Howel when a downward boat swept round the corner forcing me onto the mud with a nice list on, I bow thrustered the front into the channel and I could just reach the bank to give the boat a good hard shove of the mud.
Near Bryn Howel.
Next was the first narrow section at Sun Trevor, site of a former breach in 1945 that washed the adjoining railway away, plunging a goods train into the breach. Here Gill was sent forward with the Walkie Talkie to let me know if clear and to stop downwards boats. We waited a while for 3 boats to come through the narrows, then we where away.
Waiting at the start of the narrows, Castell Dinas Bran on the hill above Llangollen.
Clearing the narrows we headed up to the next narrow section before the linear visitor moorings at Llangollen, the beginning marked by the lift bridge. We had another wait here for boats leaving the moorings.
Lift bridge 44W
 One of the downward boats was NB Beefur, who blog occasionally.
NB Beefur
We then entered the narrow channel, I had expected grounding here, but it was plenty deep, with crystal clear water due to the flow from Horshoe Falls you could easily see the bottom. Then we headed up to the last narrows just before Llangollen Wharf.
Narrow section.
Looking back at the narrows.
Gill then headed up to the next section, before calling the boat up to the mooring basin, it took approx 2 1/2 hours from Trevor to Llangollen. We found a pontoon mooring in the basin, tied up around 12-30 and headed into Llangollen for a well deserved lunch and a pint.
Final narrows leading to the basin.
It really is narrow.

Looking back.
Last bit.
Moored in the basin, which by evening was jam packed.
The journey time was 5 hours from St Martins Moor, a bit longer than normal due to the draught of the boat.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Wrenbury to Llangollen July 2014 Day 3

Awoke to the smell of frying bacon this morning, not the full monty, just a lovely bacon sarnie, but somehow it always tastes better on the boat. Same with the morning coffee, a kettle boiled on calor gas seems to make a better cuppa.
We moved accross to the very quick water point at Bettisfield then cruised along the narrow winding section past Hampton Bank, now back in Shropshire.
Near Hampton Bank.
Reaching the Meres we noticed the boats viewed in May are still moored near the bends at Blake Mere, not on the 24 hour moorings though.
Taken Root.
Blake Mere.
We passed through Ellesmere tunnel, then I was persuaded to take the Ellesmere arm so the crew could use Tesco,s, unusual as we had done a big shop at Whitchurch on the way to the boat, turns out all the sneaky buggers wanted was the free WiFi as the Llangollen is a bit of a mobile and TV weak spot.
Ellesmere Tunnel
Busy Ellesmere Arm.
We left the arm after lunch and the WiFi fix, passing Like Ducks 2 Water, could not see Jacquie on board, but we passed her later on the way back down for a quick hello and she looked in good health.
Like Ducks 2 Water.
The canal is still reasonably quiet as it winds about near Tetchill and Val Hill, Val Hill is reminiscent of Cracks Hill on the Leicester section with the canal  winding around it, and possibly of a similar height. Passing Frankton Junction we pass Maestermyn with most of the Mid Wales Narrow boats and Maestermyn Cruisers fleet out.
Near Tetchill

Typical Bridge on a bend.
I left them to it and walked from bridge 60 to bridge 68, acting as occasional lookout on some of the bends with bridges, mind you the last couple of bridges they deliberately kept away from the towpath to stop me getting on!
Back on board at Bridge 68 near Frankton Junction.
We carried on through the New Marton Locks, first queue here, 5 boats, Gill advising a boat in front who had left Maestermyn with no steering tuiton, no guides on how to lock, or even a canal guide for the Llangollen. We moored for the evening at St Martins moor, we did not fancy chancing Chirk for a mooring, it was also a place secluded enough for a BBQ without bothering others. We had to hunt for bricks to stand the portable barbies on so as not to burn the grass, so up and down the towpath we went with no success, the only visible bricks been on the non towpath side, a quick pole across the cut, bricks loaded, and pole back across and the barbie was lit. After the Barbie it was fishing again before relaxing with a few ciders.
Stephen fishing.
Sunset over towards Wales.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Wrenbury to Llangollen July 2014 Day 1 and Day 2

Day 1
We left Norfolk early on Saturday to travel to Wrenbury Mill for a week on our shared owner narrow boat Centurion, crew being myself, Gill, Toni, and her friend Stephen, on the A14 near Kettering the heavens opened and the big storm arrived. We had atrocious driving conditions from there all the way to Norton Cannes services, with long delays at Kettering and the A14/M6 junction. Things improved on the run up the A5 under Stretton Aquaduct and the A41 to Whitchurch and Wrenbury.
Having loaded up the boat, stocked up on food and drink we set of around 4pm, working through Marbury lock and mooring short of Quoisley Lock.
Evening sky clearing on Saturday.
Day 2
After a quiet, early night we worked through Quoisley and Willey Moor locks, purchasing duck eggs and mushrooms from the old guy who has set up a small stall here, before hitting a quiet Grindley Brook locks, no queue's, so straight up the staircase with volunteers on hand.
Grindley Brook Staircase locks, very few gongoozler's about
We continued on to Whitchurch, tackling the lift bridge on the bend, then 2 more lift bridges the other side of Whitchurch.
Whitchurch Lift bridge

Bridge Opening.
We had lunch, along with a welcome glass or two of Pimm's near the bridge which used to carry the Cambrian Railway between Whitchurch and Welshpool.
After lunch we carried on passing Fenns Wood with its lift bridge, the canal is quite narrow through here with trees overhanging the banks making visibility difficult on bends.
Vegetation cutback needed.
The canal was surprisingly quiet around here, hardly any boats around and we wondered where all the hire boats were, the weather was improving all the time with the temp rising towards 25 degree's. We pressed on through the wider section up to and past Pree's junction and Whixhall Moss, passing briefly into Wales before mooring for the night at Bettisfield.
Bettisfield Moorings, 
After a good dinner we spent some time fishing, landed a good number of small perch and roach, before having a good night on a quiet mooring.