This is Steve & Viv Carter's log of the trips and travails on the narrowboat Adagio – liveaboards from October 2015. Then back to the shore, in Trefin, Wales from November 2019. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (Mark Twain)” email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
I often get annoyed by boaters who say, oh I have a trad boat. To which I say, oh is made entirely of wood and pulled by a horse, you must be proud. Most of our boats are facsimiles, confections with a nod to a bygone age . . . this age:
I was going to title this bit as “Bottoming Out”, which may be more appropriate as we did indeed get to the bottom of the restored, navigable canal. And we also bottomed quite a bit as well, since the canal is a tad shallow but only in places. Wednesday was a rainy, cold day and what with the weather and driving through treacle at times – not a great day. We paused at the Queen’s Head with a view to staying the night but the pub was very dog unfriendly and the mooring was by a busy road with the A5 also not far away . . . so on we went, all the way to Maesbury.
The owners were very chatty and served up excellent food – Viv had a baked camembert starter with cranberry sauce and a roasted bulb of garlic. I had their own homemade potted shrimps followed by crispy belly of pork on black pudding mash with sauerkraut. Viv had a full roast beef dinner with homemade horseradish. We also met up with Jenny & Trevor from “Life of Riley”, we’ve leapfrogging each other as we cruise along.
Tuesday morning and more boats turned up. At 11 ish, Chris the duty lock keeper arrived – he actually lives on his boat, moored down at the arm below the locks. Our name was on top of the list and so, down we went… 3 or 4 boats were coming up too. We just went through the staircase locks and then the next two locks . . turn left into the small basin and stop. That’ll do. Nice spot. Water point and well kept toilets too.
We have a very poor internet signal here – so won’t persevere with any more pix or blog – you’ll have to wait until tomorrow evening when we’re back up t’top!
One of those “shall we stay or shall we go” moments! Rain is forecast later and then again on Tuesday morning, our down the Monty day. So, let’s get under way and moor the wee ship at the top of the Monty ready for the off tomorrow and we can also scope out the locks and services whilst walking Toby.
Tis a hard life, all this staying put. But when you’re a few days early for the next bit (going down the Monty), why move on? We are now moored at Stank’s Visitor Moorings – according to Canalplan. Just a few 100 yds from the Ellesmere junction. You can tell it’s half-term – 100’s of boats sailing up and down. I walked the dog yesterday and watched/helped a newbie “it’s our first hour, can you tell?”. They did OK. They wanted to stop for lunch and unwisely, just pulled over and then got stuck. They did have the Pearson’s guide and I said, try and stop on the official moorings – you’ll get rings and usually, it’s deep enough too! Happy Days.
We left Whixall early and chugged on to Ellesmere – passing a hire base and many of the meres on the way. Some parts were wide and deep, others narrow and shallow. At each bridge hole, we almost came to a standstill as the flow against us slowed us down – it’ll be more fun going back! I sounded the horn at every bridge as there was a flow of boats.
To be honest, most boaters simply charge through here – got to get to the pontcysyllte aqueduct and the end of the Llangollen!! But of all the places – Whixall is one of the most isolated and yet interesting. So we stopped another day. We got to stroll through the reserve – saw many dragonflies, a hobby and heard/saw some curlew. I also cycled around the area – down the Press branch to see the marina and on down the disused arm. All amazingly quiet, flat and rural. I am amazed that Telford drove his new canal straight through this bog – quite a feat of engineering. They had to employ a moss gang to continually shore up the canal, as the constant draining of the peat meant a drying out and collapse of the canal bank. Once they had put the steel pilings in they were redundant.
We left Wrenbury early in the morning, Viv working the massive electric lift bridge & holding up the traffic. On through Marbury and four isolated locks: Marbury, Quoisley, Willey Moor and Povey’s before halting on the visitor moorings, before the locks at Grindley Brook. A good, quiet mooring with excellent 4G signal (>50MBps!). We’ll stop here for a few days and watch all the hire (and private) boats scamper by. The next bit is rather hectic – 3 locks very close together, all with that awful strong bywash and then the 3-rise staircase locks – all 6 lifting the boater nearly 39 feet up.
Further on and further up – heading towards the Holy Land! We drove on further into this very rural and quiet canal – up the two Swanley locks, past Swanley marina and then up the Baddiley locks – trying to vector in against the very strong bywash at the foot of each lock. This canal has always been a feeder waterway down to Hurleston reservoir – something that helped preserve it but it does mean there’s often quite a flow. And then it was the approaches to Wrenbury.