A blog to update our progress

What an eventful few days since my last blog. We have slowly made our way off the Llangollen and back onto the Shropshire Union main line since my last blog, which seems ages ago. Last Thursday we started our progress through Hurleston Locks to leave the Llangollen after nearly 6 weeks there. It was getting rather busy with holiday makers and we were glad to be leaving. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip though, despite all the knocks and bumps.

Leaving the Llangollen through Hurleston Locks. Me at the tiller and Charlie lock wheeling!

Leaving the Llangollen through Hurleston Locks. Me at the tiller and Charlie lock wheeling!

A bit too dangerous for my liking!

A bit too dangerous for my liking!

We were doing really well and I was proud of myself as didn’t knock Breakaway. Picked up my crew after the locks and turned right back onto the Shropshire Union. All going well so far…until hubby decides to check the Iphone for a message; I told him to leave it alone as it was running navvygator, but oh no he had to fiddle, and in trying to remove the cable lost the phone over the side and into the canal. Imagine my horror as everything was on the phone (I had had it for 4 and a half years with no breaks on it) and inside the cover was Charlie’s bus pass! Well I said a lot of words I cannot repeat, cried a bit, and as we were stopping at Nantwich we had to get a new phone asap if possible. Into Nantwich and they didn’t have a 3 store. Off to Crewe on the bus as there was one there. (had to pay for Charlie as bus pass in bottom of canal with phone). Success 3 store visited and after an hour or so a new Iphone 5c (slimmer and lighter) was mine. Contacts and appointments were still saved, but all my passwords that I had were gone. It should be interesting trying to log in to some sites guessing passwords! Think new ones will be needed. Anyway after I had the new phone I contacted my daughter (who was the sender of the message that hubby was trying to view), to be asked if we could have the grandkids till Sunday. Which we did….

by one of the sculptures that lines the canal in Nantwich

by one of the sculptures that lines the canal in Nantwich

The weather was poor whilst they were with us, and not knowing the area couldn’t find any playparks. We went to Hack Green secret nuclear bunker which was interesting, and the kids did a spy trail (finding hidden fluffy mice) which kept them amused. Interesting to see the pamphlets again that were distributed to every household in the 1980’s on how to survive (or not).

secret nuclear bunker which would have housed the government in the event of a nuclear attack. Decommissioned in 1993.

secret nuclear bunker which would have housed the government in the event of a nuclear attack. Decommissioned in 1993.

The next day Saturday was wet and we had to get through Audlem locks. There was a festival of transport there at the weekend, so lots of old boats were lining the route. There are 15 locks in the flight, and I had some help…

Charlie helping through Audlem locks

Charlie helping through Audlem locks

Noel's turn.

Noel’s turn.

Old cargo boats attending the festival

Old cargo boats attending the festival

Audlem locks

Audlem locks

Sunday we stayed put as weather wet and cold. Kids managed a bit of fishing and Noel caught a fish which pleased him (wasn’t quick enough with the camera).

Spot of fishing!

Spot of fishing!

Kids collected on Sunday afternoon by my daughter and son-in-law, and we collapsed in a heap! Early night as we needed to tidy up as we have visitors on Tuesday who we are meeting at Market Drayton. Weather still cold and damp (sure it isn’t November?), and today we are on the outskirts of Market Drayton to meet our visitors. Also need Lidl again to replenish the food that my grandchildren have consumed. I have a brilliant signal here so blog done first so my readers don’t think we have disappeared in the wilds of Shropshire.

Prees branch and junction

We had good news yesterday as all our parcels and post had arrived so we could finally depart from Ellesmere. We are now heading for Whitchurch (Lidl beckons). We left quite early this morning and decided to moor in the Prees branch as reasonably quiet and away from the busy main line. At Ellesmere we had been broadsided a few times by boaters getting too close in the windy conditions. Won’t be so agreeable when Breakaway has been repainted!!

Breakaway in the Press junction turn

Breakaway in the Press junction turn

After dinner (we have ours at lunchtime in case you were wondering), we walked to the end of the navigable section, then slightly beyond into the nature reserve. There is a marina at the end which seems very secluded, but does house some hire boats there.

There are 2 liftbridges along this section.

There are 2 liftbridges along this section.

The end of the Prees branch section. It should have gone to Prees and was originally 4 miles long, but it never reached there. Now only a mile remains.

The end of the Prees branch section. It should have gone to Prees and was originally 4 miles long, but it never reached there. Now only a mile remains.

Hedge Bindweed with some wildlife attached!

Hedge Bindweed with some wildlife attached!

At one of the liftbridges some local honey was being sold so we bought some (yum), now need to make some fresh bread to compliment it (that’s a shame). And a farmers work is never done, even on a Sunday……

Hay turning

Hay turning

Hopefully will get to Whitchurch tomorrow as only a 2 hour journey at an average speed of 2.5mph!

Second visit to Ellesmere

We are now on our downward passage along the Llangollen. We have been on this stretch now for 5 weeks! We have stayed a while at Ellesmere as we were to have visitors, so made use of our stay and ordered a couple of items, and asked for some post to be sent (up to date in case we need a car) to the local post office. As we have been here since Tuesday there has been nothing exciting to write about, but today we ventured off the wharf arm to just outside by the bridge. It has been quite entertaining here as it is windy and many boats are having trouble making the turn to follow the Llangollen.

Ellesmere arm. There are many sculptures around the canal and town, and this is in the entrance to the arm.

Ellesmere arm. There are many sculptures around the canal and town, and this is in the entrance to the arm.

This weekend there is a floating market here, but only 5 boats attending this time.

Advertising the market on the bridge

Advertising the market on the bridge

Boat selling canal ware. Jugs and pots all painted with roses in traditional style.

Boat selling canal ware. Jugs and pots all painted with roses in traditional style.

Boat selling candles and gifts

Boat selling candles and gifts

Boat selling fenders

Boat selling fenders

Boat selling pictures made from old vinyl records

Boat selling pictures made from old vinyl records

And our favourite the Oatcake boat, so we treated ourselves to lunch with a double sausage and cheese oatcake each with coffee. We last saw  this boat on the T&M at Westport lake in March.

And our favourite the Oatcake boat, so we treated ourselves to lunch with a double sausage and cheese oatcake each with coffee. We last saw this boat on the T&M at Westport lake in March.

We had a walk beside the mere (anglo saxon for lake), created like the mosses by the melting ice from the ice age, and typical of this area.

The Mere (from where Ellesmere got its name)

The Mere (from where Ellesmere got its name)

A narrowboat sculpture in the Mere park

A narrowboat sculpture in the Mere park

Opposite where we are moored is Beech House, which used to be the offices of the canal company, and where it is said Thomas Telford lived while working on the canal. It is now a private dwelling.

Beech House

Beech House

And finally a picture of Breakaway

And finally a picture of Breakaway

We will stay here till Sunday, then move along a bit more as hopefully our post will arrive on Monday. Once we have this we will head toward Whitchurch again. Probably no more blog till then as don’t want to bore readers.

Montgomery canal

This is a short stretch of restored canal that originally went to Newtown.

Frankton locks the start of the Montgomery section

Frankton locks the start of the Montgomery section

Two thirds of it has been restored and boats can travel a seven mile stretch to Maesbury Marsh. Unfortunately for us though there had been a breach in the embankment by Aston locks, so passage was closed until further notice. We booked to go down Frankton locks on Monday, and once down found a quiet mooring and stayed 48hrs, as weather colder and rainier, and we got on with some jobs in the boat(sealing window frames, cleaning brass, changing bedclothes etc etc.

Initial mooring spot. The boat behind moored permanently as only has a licence for the Montgomery.

Initial mooring spot. The boat behind moored permanently as only has a licence for the Montgomery.

We moved down further to Queens head where we had to turn. It was a bit noisier here as nearer to the road, but we walked to Maesbury Marsh to see the bit we couldn’t travel by boat. The businesses here are suffering a bit with the canal being currently closed, so a horse boat operates if enough people to ferry customers back and forth (a bit expensive for us though).

The Navigation Inn at Maesbury Marsh

The Navigation Inn at Maesbury Marsh

After we walked back (5 miles round trip!) to the boat we showered and decided to treat ourselves to a meal at the Queens head pub. It turned out to be an excellent meal (paella their signature dish), washed down with some local brew. Thursday we travelled back to the Weston branch moorings where we started from, and as the weather was improving decided to have a BBQ (the first we have had this season).

Travelling along the Monty. It is in serious need of tlc as very overgrown in places.

Travelling along the Monty. It is in serious need of tlc as very overgrown in places.

Another view of the overgrown canal bank

Another view of the overgrown canal bank and Perry aqueduct

Barbie to end the day....magic

Barbie to end the day….magic

On our walks around this area we have seen more wildlife and flowers. It has been deemed an area of outstanding natural beauty, so any work on the canal has to be decided with English Nature, and the local council. The breach that is waiting to be repaired since the beginning of June, is awaiting these decisions. Finally they are due to start work on this at the end of July. On chatting to the lockkeeper yesterday it transpires that some local people don’t want boats along this stretch of canal, which is probably why it has become so overgrown. Such a shame as it could be a jewel in Llangollens crown. Now follows some wild flowers for July.

Common knapweed

Common knapweed

I think could be a common spotted orchid

I think could be a common spotted orchid

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

and finally a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

and finally a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

more wildflowers…….

??

Tufted vetch

??

Musk mallow

??

Yellow Loosestrife

Tomorrow we will move a little closer to Ellesmere. We are hanging about a bit as we may have visitors next week-end, and need to be near a car parking area for them. Also Tesco is close there and provisions are low.

Chirk Castle

Yesterday was another warm one for our visit to Chirk Castle. It was an eventful day, as we took the dog for a walk prior to setting off for the castle, only to find a narrowboat untethered (pins were missing bar one), and floating away from the bank. A call to CRT and also managed to secure the boat with one pin till someone came to it’s rescue. That was our good deed for the day. Picnic made we set off about 10am as we were aware the castle was approx 1 and a half miles from the canal. We followed the road and then found a walkers signpost that said to the castle. As always these signs take you in the general direction, then seem to disappear. So we carried on in a straight line till we saw the castle grounds in view. This took us uphill over fields

walking through a field full of these beasties!

walking through a field full of these beasties!

Easy we thought we will get into the estate grounds and make our way to the castle entrance; not so we encountered a haha which we duly climbed up, but unbeknowns to us a gardener saw us and by the time we got to the gate we were famous for having invaded the castle!

after climbing the haha we encountered Hercules

after climbing the haha we encountered Hercules

We were threatened with the dungeon

not a place you want to stay too long in

not a place you want to stay too long in

but allowed to first have coffee and a sit down. The climb up to the castle was quite tiring and we are sure it was more than the aforementioned distance. The castle was started in the 1300’s as a defensive one but never saw any action. It was bought from the state in the 1500’s by the Myddleton family, and they still own it today, though they only use one of the towers for holidays, the land has tenants and the remainder of the building is managed by the NT (visit number 4). A few photos follow of our visit.

Stately home area and cortyard

Stately home area and cortyard

inside one of the oppulent rooms

inside one of the oppulent rooms

Trying on some very heavy armour..guess who is inside?

Trying on some very heavy armour..guess who is inside?

Castle exterior which has been built on over the years

Castle exterior which has been built on over the years

Front entrance

Front entrance

and finally the front gates that are closed to the public to enter the estate

and finally the front gates that are closed to the public to enter the estate

Our adventure didn’t stop there. Oh no. We were given a map of the estate to help us with our walk back to the canal. Again follow the blue signs the map said; what happens when the blue signs disappear? We got lost momentarily. We finally found our way out onto a road and managed to flag down a passing motorist to ask directions. Kindly she offered us a lift back to Chirk, which we were grateful of (sharing the vehicle with 2 dogs and a child, and the various items that go without saying with that mix). We made it back to the canal and stopped for an ice cream from the sweet boat. We must have walked about 8 miles in total, and were “cream crackered” by the end of the day. Needless to say tea was thrown together last night!

Today we shuffled along to the next 48hr moorings for the night, and plan to head for the Montgomery canal entrance as arranged to descend the lock flight on Monday (has to be pre-booked). We will have to empty 3 cassettes by then; we hardly ever use our 3rd cassette, but due to a hire boat being moored on the elsan disposal at Llangollen wharf, we couldn’t get in to do the deed. A bit of washing will be done along the way as there is a water point en route.

Pontcysyllite aqueduct again

Thought I would share these scary photo’s from this mornings trip over the aqueduct at 7am.DSC00395DSC00400DSC00397DSC00396

Needless to say I was enjoying the view from inside the boat! We are now back at Chirk and plan to visit the castle tomorrow. Think we will have an easy day today.

Llangollen town and Horseshoe Falls

Yesterday must have been the hottest day we have experienced so far. It was humid, so we decided to walk to Horseshoe Falls as it was shaded all the way. We packed a picnic and a flagon of water and set off. The area here is part of a World Heritage site along with the aqueduct, and it is easy to see why. It has outstanding beauty which is enhanced by the lovely weather.

Horseshoe Falls area which is the start of the water that feeds the canal.

Horseshoe Falls area which is the start of the water that feeds the canal.

The falls

The falls

a closer view of the falls. The water is fed down by a valve house that meters the flow of water into the canal

a closer view of the falls. The water is fed down by a valve house that meters the flow of water into the canal

A horsedrawn boat ferries tourists along the way to the falls

A horsedrawn boat ferries tourists along the way to the falls

The horses were changed with each trip due to the hot weather

The horses were changed with each trip due to the hot weather

We walked along a bit further to Llantisilio church where many gravestones were written in Welsh.

Llantisilio church

Llantisilio church

We stopped on the way back for our picnic in a shady part of the wood. We returned to the boat and then tried to chill out after a shower as by this time the heat was unbearable. Don’t like to moan as I love the heat usually, but I think the humidity drains you.

I’m now going to show some pictures of Llangollen town as we went there on Monday after we had moored in the wharf. The cost of mooring in the wharf is £6 a night and allows a hook up to water and electric. Needless to say I made good use of this and did 4 loads of washing, that didn’t take long to dry.

Llangollen station that runs a steam train through the valley

Llangollen station that runs a steam train through the valley

Llangollen bridge that spans the River Dee. Used to be a toll bridge many years ago.

Llangollen bridge that spans the River Dee. Used to be a toll bridge many years ago.

River Dee from the bridge

River Dee from the bridge

We walked through the town up to a house called Plas Newydd, which was occupied by 2 eccentric friends, who originated from Ireland, but decided to escape together to avoid loveless marriages. They lived there from 1779-1831, and the house is preserved as it would have been in their time, with lots of oak wood carved decorations throughout the house. They became known as “the ladies of Llangollen”, and were visited by many famous people over the years including Browning,Tennyson and Wordsworth.

Plas Newydd house

Plas Newydd house

We stopped for lunch in a local cafe in the town, and continued our look around. From the town can be seen a ruin called Castell Dinas Bran. It is thought to have had links with the Holy Grail, and it was built by a prince called Bran. The visible remains date from the late 13th century.

Castell Dinas Bran

Castell Dinas Bran

There was only one thing left to sample and we had them for tea that evening…..

A Welsh Oggy!

A Welsh Oggy!

Today being Wednesday we were up early again after a restless, sticky night (despite all the doors and windows being open), and travelled down to Trevor basin. Managed to squeeze into a space opposite the Anglo Welsh hire boat base and had lunch out in the pub opposite. Not something we do very often but thoroughly enjoyable. Tomorrow we go back over the aqueduct and maybe 2 tunnels and Chirk aqueduct to get back to Chirk; as we want to visit Chirk castle (a NT property) that is within walking distance of the canal.