Over the aqueduct

On Monday we left very early (6.45) to negotiate the aqueduct whilst it was quiet. The weather had gradually been warming up so it was quite a pleasant trip. I managed to stay on board till we reached the end, when I got off to take pictures. Needless to say I didn’t look down to the left of the boat because the only side there is comes up to the gunwales only. So I looked right towards the railings. Still scary stuff when you don’t like heights.

Approaching the Pontcysyllite aqueduct

Approaching the Pontcysyllite aqueduct

Across the Dee valley

Across the Dee valley

Railings spoiling the view on the other side; but re-assuring they are there

Railings spoiling the view on the other side; but re-assuring they are there

Breakaway coming through

Breakaway coming through

Nearly made it

Nearly made it

Straight after the aqueduct is a sharp turn left to continue on the Llangollen

Straight after the aqueduct is a sharp turn left to continue on the Llangollen

Welsh hills

Welsh hills

Canal art along the way

Canal art along the way

Narrow in places

Narrow in places

Llangollen wharf

Llangollen wharf

Breakaway moored in the wharf. When we arrived it was very quiet and hardly any other boats.

Breakaway moored in the wharf. When we arrived it was very quiet and hardly any other boats.

Tea rooms and horse drawn boat trips in the wharf

Tea rooms and horse drawn boat trips in the wharf

My next blog will be our trip around the town and we also had a walk to Horseshoe Falls (the beginning of the canal). Weather today is unbelievably hot it can’t last.

Froncysyllte

Today we were up early and decided to move closer to the big aqueduct before boat traffic started, as many places very narrow and tree lined, so view can be restricted. It’s a lovely area, but the canal current is very strong the closer we get to Llangollen. This is due to the water from the River Dee being directed into the canal at Horseshoe Falls at the rate of 12 million gallons a day. On going through the Chirk and Whitehouse Tunnels, we had to maintain quite a bit of power as going against the current.

Across the Chirk aqueduct

Across the Chirk aqueduct

View through the viaduct across the valley

View through the viaduct across the valley

Into Chirk tunnel....

Into Chirk tunnel….

and out again.

and out again.

Travelling up the Llangollen canal

Travelling up the Llangollen canal

We made it to Froncysyllite (not a wrong  spelling), a village on the edge of the hillside just before the Pontcysyllite aqueduct. We had breakfast and then went walking to take some pictures as may be too scary when we travel over it in the boat! We have had Cornish weather this morning, with mizzle.

The famous Pontcysyllite aqueduct. Built in 10yrs, at a cost of £47,000, by Thomas Telford. It is 126ft above the River Dee, and is 1007ft in length. It was opened in 1805.

The famous Pontcysyllite aqueduct. Built in 10yrs, at a cost of £47,000, by Thomas Telford. It is 126ft above the River Dee, and is 1007ft in length. It was opened in 1805. Today it remains as built apart from renewals of the balustrade, and the towpath structure.

side view

side view

The River Dee from the aqueduct

The River Dee from the aqueduct

View over the Dee valley (note the far side edge)

View over the Dee valley (note the far side edge)

A bit of history

A bit of history

Another side view

Another side view

Signpost so we know where to go!!

Signpost so we know where to go!!

Trevor basin where Anglo  Welsh hire boats have a base

Trevor basin where Anglo Welsh hire boats have a base

Canal art at Trevor basin cleverly using old tools and bricks

Canal art at Trevor basin cleverly using old tools and bricks

more canal art

more canal art

Close up of last picture again using pick axe handles in the design. It looks like a spine.

Close up of last picture again using pick axe handles in the design. It looks like a spine.

We will probably stay here for 48hrs the proceed along the scary aqueduct. I don’t do heights very well so may just look ahead and breath deeply! Sunday Lunch is cooking and Charlie fishing. Mizzle has stopped and the sun is now shining.

On the way to Llangollen

We left Ellesmere in the rain on Thursday, and decided we would try and make it to Hindley, just before New Marton Locks. We left early and had a stop for coffee mid morning. We were doing well until just before midday, when we ran aground whilst being kind and letting a boat through a bridge. It took a hire boat and people on the tow path to pull us off. The next mishap was another bridge which was steeply angled to the right, and we ran aground again!! Boat behind us helped pull us off that time. The third time that day it happened again, but we managed to get ourselves going. We were exhausted so stopped at Hindley to recover for the night.

New Marton locks

New Marton locks

Bridge by the top lock over the bywash

Bridge by the top lock over the bywash

On Friday we travelled to Chirk, being more careful that we didn’t have any more mishaps (canal level low in places). Chirk is a pleasant town with many old buildings, and it overlooks the border between England and Wales. It also has an aqueduct that is slightly smaller than the one at Pontcysyllite, with a railway viaduct alongside.

Chirk aqueduct 70' high spanning the River Ceiriog

Chirk aqueduct 70′ high spanning the River Ceiriog. The viaduct next to it is 100′ high.

A 459yd tunnel follows known locally as "the darkie"

A 459yd tunnel follows known locally as “the darkie”

View of the aqueduct from the top of the south portal of the tunnel

View of the aqueduct from the top of the south portal of the tunnel the blue boat in the foreground is selling sweets, icecream and drinks.

view of the river Ceiriog from the aqueduct

view of the river Ceiriog from the aqueduct

We had a look around Chirk, and partook of a coffee and cake in the local tea rooms, before walking over the top of the tunnel to the north side, then returning through it walking, with the lights of boats travelling through showing the way.

Tea rooms that made a very good coffee that was hot!

Tea rooms that made a very good coffee that was hot!

Our visit wouldn’t be complete without a walk in and around the church

St Mary's church

St Mary’s church

Chirk also has a Cadbury hot chocolate factory, and a timber factory that makes chipboard with wood from Scotland.

We then returned to the boat for lunch. We plan to move tomorrow and get closer to Llangollen. Travelling over the Chirk Aqueduct in preparation for the next one!

Ellesmere

We have moored on the Ellesmere arm for 72hrs so we could have a look around. Ellesmere is an 18th century market town with narrow winding streets, tall red brick houses, and terraces of old cottages. It takes it’s name from the large mere beside it. We had a good look around the town and also the small market that was going on. Tesco has a store at the end of the arm, so very convenient for supplies (a bit too convenient as tempted to visit too often!)

On the Ellesmere arm

On the Ellesmere arm

The end of the arm (Tesco around to the left of this picture)

The end of the arm (Tesco around to the left of this picture)

An old wharf building

An old wharf building

Entrance to the arm. The Llangollen canal bears to the right in this picture

Entrance to the arm. The Llangollen canal bears to the right in this picture

Some strange triffidy thing!!

Some strange triffidy thing!!

Today saw the arrival of the fuel boat NBMountbatten onto the arm. We decided to fill up with them as they were cheaper than the boatyards; we also needed engine oil as used the last we had changing the gearbox oil.,and Charlie doesn’t like to be without spares.

Mountbatten built in 1959 with an Armstrong Siddely engine

Mountbatten built in 1959 with an Armstrong Siddely engine

Mountbatten moored alongside Breakaway

Mountbatten moored alongside Breakaway

Today was a day of cleaning (always cleaning!!). Charlie polished one side of Breakaway whilst I did the inside. Just need to turn round now and do the other side! It is now 16.30 and we have finished for the day. Only someone is still working………

View from boat today; hay baling

View from boat today; hay baling

still busy

still busy

We will be on the move again tomorrow, but not sure yet where we will be stopping

Whitchurch and beyond

Firstly apologies for lack of blog, but as we use the I phones 3G connection we have been in a very poor signal area and so unable to blog as frequently as I would like. Never mind, maybe one day we will afford a better connection!

Pictures of farm beasts follow so my good friend in Cornwall can identify them (keeps her on her toes as she likes a good quiz!)DSC00208DSC00211

We were on a 48hr mooring in the Whitchurch arm so planned to stay and explore. The town has many periods of old houses, with narrow streets leading off the main high street. It’s origins start in Roman times and was known as Mediolanum; later it was recorded in the Domesday book as Westune, then later changed to Whitchurch (after the church). Luckily the church is open to visitors.

St Alkmund's church built in 1713 after the original Norman church fell down.

St Alkmund’s church built in 1713 after the original Norman church fell down.We had a look around the town and partook of some local ale in a friendly hostelry. Blue Cheshire cheese is one of the local delicacies here so we bought some to try.

The beautiful stained glass windows fitted in the 19th century to replace the plain glass

The beautiful stained glass windows fitted in the 19th century to replace the plain glass

Town view

Town view

At the end of the Whitchurch arm (well almost)

At the end of the Whitchurch arm (well almost)

View looking back where the original course of the canal went

View looking back where the original course of the canal went

We moved from Whitchurch and travelled towards Ellesmere. This takes the canal through rural countryside with no amenities, so we decided to stop overnight at Fenns and Whixall Moss, an area that was created in the last Ice Age and is now a nature reserve.

We had another encounter with a very fast moving narrowboat which nearly took us off our mooring. The second of that day!

We then moved closer to Ellesmere on Saturday, passing many mere’s. This area is Shropshires lake district. These mere’s were also formed in the ice age, and are popular spots for visitors.

Passing Blake mere

Passing Blake mere

We had 2 nights just past the Ellesmere tunnel, and today made it to the Ellesmere wharf, being lucky in getting a mooring as it is very popular to visit the town, and also it is 72hrs stay.

Ellesmere tunnel

Ellesmere tunnel

Finally today is Izzy’s first birthday so she has had a chew to celebrate

Happy Birthday Izzy

Happy Birthday Izzy

Wrenbury to Whitchurch

I will start todays blog with my wild flowers and get them out of the way. I like to see what is around in the different seasons, and our new camera takes a much better picture of them.

Yellow flag

Yellow flag

Bramble

Hawthorn

We left Wrenbury quite early  on Tuesday as the sun was shining and planned to make it to Grindley brook and stop before the flight and staircase. It was a very hot and humid day. At the first lock we came to there was an elderly chap selling eggs, potatoes and kindling. He helped with the lock so I took pity (a mug for a sob story; must be the nurse in me), and bought a bag of potatoes. We travelled through the next 3 locks and misjudged where the flight of locks started, so as we turned the bend we were confronted by them so decided to carry on through. The current is quite strong along this canal especially by the locks, and it takes a bit of welly to get through the bywash even when stearing into it. The canal is fed by the River Dee which is responsible for this extra flow.

Canalside houses and shop at the start of the flight at Grindley Brook

Canalside houses and shop at the start of the flight at Grindley Brook

We got through the flight easily and ended up being the third in the queue for the triple staircase locks. These are manned by 2 volunteer lockkeepers, so they control the boats going through. We had heard stories of people waiting 4 hours to get through these, but we were much quicker. They let 3 up, then 3 down to make it fair. I can imagine a lot of tempers may get frayed in the summer months.

Going through the flight of 3 locks before the staircase

Going through the flight of 3 locks before the staircase

Travelling up the triple staircase with a lock keepers help

Travelling up the triple staircase with a lock keepers help

We topped up with water after the locks, emptied cassettes and rubbish and decided to stop along this stretch.

Final destination for the day (or so we thought)

Final destination for the day (or so we thought)

After mooring up Charlie developed a migraine and had to put himself to bed. I think it was just a combination of a long trip, heat and probably not enough fluid! I should know better; lesson learnt. I’d made dinner so after I’d cleared up decided to walk the dog and practice photo taking.

Blackbird taken with telephoto lens. It was hard keeping still, but I managed it

We were watching TV later in the evening when we had a knock at the window. A man was asking us to move and he said we shouldn’t moor there. We were perplexed by this as we were in front of other boats. On walking back we had missed a no mooring sign as it was tucked back, on walking forward the other sign looked like it had been vandalised so wasn’t clear. It was strange to have a stretch of no mooring on the towpath side, but it was beside this man’s house and he obviously didn’t want boats disturbing his peace. We moved along to keep him happy. On Wednesday we moved into the Whitchurch arm (a small stretch which allows walking access to the town). We are going exploring today, so photo’s of Whitchurch to follow on next blog.

To Wrenbury

Sunday proved to be a cold and overcast day with a bit of mizzle later in the day. We decided to stay put and do some jobs. I cleaned the boat and Charlie changed the oil in the gearbox. A few boats were moving up and down. I managed a few more wildflower pictures…

Common bird's-foot

Common bird’s-foot

Common vetch

Common vetch

Germander speedwell

Germander speedwell

We have a new camera so I am getting  used to using it. It takes a better close up of the wild flowers.

Our peace was shattered briefly in the evening by a hire boat going past with the occupants all on the stern or the roof, touching the electric fence on the opposite side of the bank. I think alcohol was involved; but this raucous behaviour does nothing to endear some people to other boaters. They were creating quite a wash too.

Noisy lads on a boozy weekend!!

Noisy lads on a boozy weekend!!

Today we decided to move to Wrenbury. We went through 5 locks and 2 liftbridges, and there definately was alot more traffic than we have been used to. The good thing is that the majority of the locks were 1 up, 1 down which saves water.

First of many liftbridges on the canal

First of many liftbridges on the canal

Cruising up the Llangollen.

Cruising up the Llangollen.

Wrenbury church that dates back to the 14th century and built from red Cheshire sandstone.

Wrenbury church that dates back to the 14th century and built from red Cheshire sandstone.

We had a walk into Wrenbury after lunch and the church was open so we had a look around. It has had later additions to it in the 15th century and also the 19th century; it has a splendid stained glass window. There wasn’t much in the village apart from a post office, so I bought some stamps, and posted some cards. Izzy has had a busy day today as I walked her between the locks, and also she came with us to the village. Needless to say she is now fast asleep.

Finally I would like to show off our new tiller pin. This is our own cherub (that was found in an old coaching house in the 1950’s by my husbands family, and not sure of it’s age), that we had made. We are quite pleased with it.

new cherub tiller pin

new cherub tiller pin

And for my farming friends a familiar beast (name that breed). See we do take notice of the farming stuff!

Dairy cow

Dairy cow

Lovely Cheshire landscape.

Lovely Cheshire landscape.

We didn’t get to the ice cream farm, but we will make a stop on the way back. How can a person maintain a diet with so much local produce to try.

Catching up and on the move again

It’s been a week now since we got back on board (wow that went quickly), and I thought I had better do a catch up blog and get everyone up to speed with where we are now. As planned we spent a couple of days in the marina, and managed to get washing done as on water and electric. On our walk around the marina we saw this boat

It seems we are never too far away from Cornwall

It seems we are never too far away from Cornwall

We also made 2 trips to the ice cream farm (on different days I may add), and managed to sample 10 flavours out of their 40 repertoire. It would have been rude not to try the ice cream being so close. Needless to say it was all lovely (and not a bit unhealthy as made with milk!).

The next job was get some supplies in. Luckily I had left a full freezer and we lived on that when we got back. Now time to stock up again. We were going to walk into Tattenhall town as there was a small supermarket there, but we saw Mr Tesco and thought we would save a journey along a very busy road, and order from them instead. I haven’t used online ordering for some years, but managed to list what I wanted. At the checkout the billing address was an old one, but when I went to change it to our new one it was having none of it, as our address wasn’t listed, and they have no way of adding it manually! Crazy in this day of modern technology. A few phonecalls later they still couldn’t help me. As you can imagine I was a little annoyed having spent 2 hours on this and getting nowhere. So I tried Asda, and they did have our new address listed (hooray), so needless to say they got my custom. We had the delivery on Thursday before we left, so with full cupboards we set off at midday and got back out onto the cut heading for the Llangollen canal.

We had one overnight stop after 1 mile as the weather was lovely and warm, and we didn’t fancy doing any locks. Dinner al fresco with a bottle of red!

Friday we decided to try and get as close to the Lllangollen as possible, as Saturdays weather forecast was awful.

A little bit more traffic on the canal from the last time, and alot greener. Along the way we saw

a deer that did have ears but the boat moving proved difficult to capture

a deer that did have ears but the boat moving proved difficult to capture

A buzzard looking for his next meal maybe

A buzzard looking for his next meal maybe

A family of swans with their new brood

A family of swans with their new brood

The weather was very hot and steamy. Izzy was very well behaved

sporting her lifejacket

sporting her lifejacket

We arrived and the junction with the Shroppie and the Lllangollen so decided to crack on through the 4 locks at the junction. We had already done 6 locks, one of which a double staircase at Bunbury, and I managed to persuade the chap coming down to let us come in the lower lock and change over in the middle. Charlie even got a bit panicky, but I knew what I was doing.

The start of the locks on the Llangollen branch

The start of the locks on the Llangollen branch

We had to wait on the lock landing as a boat was coming down, another boat turned and tried to jump the queue, but we soon put him right and made him wait. We journeyed through the 4 locks and stopped a bit further on as we had been travelling nearly 6 hours, and with the steamy heat we were quite tired and ready for lunch.

Today the weather was heavy rain, so I made a cake and bread. It has stopped raining now so we took the dog for a longer walk as I only managed a quick one in the morning as we got wet. The hedgerows are certainly blooming with more flowers now. Now follows the wild flower pics that I am so fond of.

Creeping buttercup

Creeping buttercup

Field rose

Field rose

Red clover

Red clover

Cow parsley

Cow parsley

Red campion (I think)

Red campion (I think)

We also noticed a sign for another ice cream farm! Oh no will we have to try their flavours too? I’ll let you know if we do.

Back on board

We are now back on board Breakaway after being in Cornwall for 6 weeks. We have signed all the papers involved for buying and selling, so don’t have to worry about that; completion date still not set but could be in 2 weeks. Annoyingly we received a document from our buyers only last week that states they want the cabin bed and wardrobes removed even though we were going to leave them. It’s another job that could have been done sooner if their conveyancer was doing his job properly! Never mind my daughter and son in law will get on to that job.

We left Cornwall yesterday at 09.45am after tidying and cleaning our tiny house, and with a Corsa 1.2 (I know, it had no oomph!) fully loaded we set off. We arrived at 15.45pm to Tattenhall marina which was very good going, as we had one stop for lunch (packed lunch as we have to start saving again). Everything was ok on board and our little pooch is settling in (see last post). We have noticed though a leak has occured where our TV aerial is situated so first job this morning is to fix that before it gets any worse.

We will probably stay here a few days to recover and rest after all the excitement in Cornwall! Get some washing done, do some jobs and maybe we will have to visit the ice cream farm just down the road as it does 40 flavours!

Blogging will resume normally now.