Birthday Girl

Yes, tis the Big Day, 21 again . . . ” I’ve got the key of the door . . . . pity I can’t remember where the door is!” Bless.

The rain continues! Records still broken – starting to come in the boat now . . . . could do with a dry spell and some warmth.

Weather station keeps failing – seems it doesn’t like weather! However, it has recorded some of the torrential rain. I think we’ve nearly had 6 inches this month.

Aha! The CRT contractors (Rothen group) or International Rescue turn up with Thunderbird 6! Hopefully to get to work on the “problem” during this week.

The forecast is getting better . . . and our mate Mark is due to visit today. And to prove it – he’s here. We’re thinking of heading off on a Saga trip – maybe to Bangor, by train, see the Menai straits and visit llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Meanwhile, here’s that song!

“Stuck here in the middle with you”

Yep. Canal is definitely closed. This is the lift bridge 21 just out of Wrenbury.

Bit of a busy day – having organised post to be sent to Wrenbury P.O. – poste restante – we were now stuck in Grindley Brook. So Steve cycled the 2 miles to Whitchurch station, narrowly missing the train, caught one that didn’t stop at Wrenbury, so had to go on to Nantwich and double back. Such Fun! Cycle the mile or so to Wrenbury and pick up the vital post (2 birthday cards!). He then cycled on to view the damage to the canal.

I met up with two guys from CRT – one must be an area manager, for he said he had to go back to Northwich to do lots of paperwork! They allowed me to view the damage. It was a two pronged attack – the brook on the left, washing away at its embankment plus the canal “overtopping” and eroding its embankment.
This is the canal side – any passing boats would only cause more damage
the tarpaulin and sandbags help
but only a yard’s width is the brook, lower now but look at the mud! Hmm, this will take weeks. They plan to get a barge in to fill the bank with rocks and then put pilings in.
Remember this from 18th May? The River Weaver, running thru a guys garden – below is the one taken today:
Meanwhile on the way back to Wrenbury station, you pass over a bridge over the river Weaver – before it was just a small stream through this chap’s garden – he now has an ornamental lake.
Back at Whitchurch – which is a very smart town with lots of shops and a Joules pub! Dog friendly and great beer too!
I mean what has the EU ever done for us, eh?
And here is the Whitchurch Arm – not very long but there’s a plan to make a proper basin . . . one day. The house up on the left in the village of Chemistry, was for sale and Viv had looked at the advert . . . could be with a mooring?
And here’s the official update.
Meanwhile, here’s some pix from the night before . . . time for a pub meal
Quite an unassuming pub, from the outside but a very friendly welcome inside – good range of beer and a quirky menu but very tasty indeed – recommend it! https://www.thehorseandjockey.pub/
Well, these two seem to be enjoying it. They even had churros & chocolate for dessert.
Toby gives his best Gromit stare – he really is a good dog.
Many thanks to family & friends for sending the cards – Steve made Viv carry the balloon all the way through Whitchurch and back! Probably stay here for a few days. And then think what we can do for two weeks! Back down the Monty?

Once more unto the breach

We left Whixall marina, having taken on water – so our boat is now over half a tonne heavier, what with refuelling yesterday. Only 100 litres went in, so our “mpg” is around 1.4 litres per hour, not too bad. It was still drizzling. We rejoined the main canal and just missed the lift bridge, 45, as a boat had just gone through and blow me, if they started to drop the bridge as we approached – not a polite thing. Maybe they were in a hurry (nb Dipper). Anway we tooted ( a lot) and they raised the bridge to let us through – we said we’d go on and do the next one (for there are five of these today!). They were to get their comeuppance later!

Despite the light rain, it was a delightful cruise
We reached lift bridge 42 and cordially raised it and let Dipper through. They sailed off, almost never to be seen again, apart from sauntering off from the next two lift bridges just as we got there! On passing through Whitchurch, a hire boat called out “I hope you’re not going far, as there’s been a breach and it could be two or three weeks!” – oh-oh. And lo, when we got to Grindley Brook it was strangely quiet. No boats. And the locks all tied off and locked up.
We spun the boat and moored just up from the locks.
So there you have it. The canal level was raised (wonder why?) and started to wash away at the bank. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out if they’ll let boats through and if not how long it’ll take. So, Dipper and everyone else is going nowhere!

Noah

Yes, it’s raining. And it hasn’t stopped. My ickle weather station light up yesterday with 2 new records – highest monthly rain (hang on it’s only 11 days in!) and highest daily rain. Tuesday we moved on to Ellesmere – slight drizzle but hardly any boats and, oh, joy, going with the flow is soooo different, can’t quite put the water skies out but there’s no slowing down at bridge holes.

If you want to know what a hail storm sounds like in a boat . . . .

After a night of non-stop rain, and another visit to Tesco! We pushed off from the Ellesmere arm and heading down the Golli to Whixall. Meanwhile observing the art work alongside the canal – “looks like sommit dragged owt of t’canal” said Steve
Thanks Mum for the Gill ocean yacht tracing-type coat – very handy!
It’s not long before we are back at that fascinating peat bog area Whixall Moss
This time we divert off the main canal, down the Prees Branch to the marina – Viv drives – note the coal fire is still on!
And for our listeners at home watching on the home service . . . here’s a map – see the diversion? We turn right down the branch rather than carry on down the Llangollen. Hmm, two lift bridges
Steve’s turn to do the wind up
Approaching the marina we notice a new venture for the marina – shepherd’s huts – see https://whixallmarina.co.uk/shepherds-huts/
And here’s the marina – bit damp but very welcoming. The manager, Darren helped us with fuel and sorted a berth for the night (£10) – he couldn’t have been more helpful. There’s toilets & showers (all very modern) plus a laundry and a smart cafe too.
Marina website: https://whixallmarina.co.uk
Time to walk the Boggle – let’s go down the disused arm (Steve cycled this last time) – damp but very pretty and you get the feeling that all around here, nothing has really changed for 200 years.
Toby liked it.
What can I say? It was on offer (it was honest) or Steve does like a little cider (little? this is 5 litres !) but you’ve got to keep him happy!
I mean it’s not as if it’s that strong (7.4%!! That’s half the strength of wine… and he’s drinking it by the pint . . . nurse, nurse!) but it is very tasty . . . even Viv tries some, oh dear says Steve, is nothing sacred? Cheers to Gail & Jess – hope the rum goes down well and you get out at the weekend 😉
Time to do some washing and here’s another boater’s tip – the elastic trickery here is only 8 amps, so we were reluctant to run the washing machine – 8 A means around 1800 watts of power, so we did do 2 washes but switched the machine to a cold wash but used the (very) hot water from the tank to supplement the filling of the washing machine. It all worked and here’s what a boat looks like with it all hanging up! With the stove on, it should all be dry by the morning.
I was going to do another “boaters notes” but have completely forgotten what it was – a warning to youngsters – this is what happens if you drink tooooo much cider whilst bloggin! Meanwhile, it is someone’s birthday next week and many thanks to Max & Colin for their fantastic card & present! Cheers

Miguel – tiempo tormentoso

Yes, storm Miguel blows in and we have yellow rain warnings for days! We moved on today, Tuesday, in the light drizzle, to Ellesmere and went off to buy more coal! Coal! I mean buying coal in June! And nearly mid-June at that.


A Tad cold and a constant drizzle but we only met one boat! Some Kiwis, dressed in shorts but wearing a thin cagoule! Shouting, nice weather for ducks! Bless em.

Many thanks to TG builders, in Ellesmere, for having a bag of coal and alerting me to the fact that because I also purchased some kindling and firelighters, I would get their Buy 3 and get the cheapest free! I also stopped at the famous Vermeulen deli and bought wonderful homemade pies, Klonakilty black & white puddings, a giant custard tart and a cherry Madeira cake! Well, ”tis time for some comfort food.

One of the downsides of being so ruralated (my new word), is by definition, you are a long way from civilisation. Steve often has tooth trouble and a filling/bit of tooth came away last week. Luckily we subscribe to Denplan and they are very good – you tell them where you are and they not only find a dentist but book the appointment. Today, we were unlucky – they couldn’t sort me out. No worries, we’ll try again when we’re a little nearer bigger towns. The fire’s on and despite the constant rain and temperatures straining to make double figures – we are cosy and warm

The atrocious weather (and I do feel so sorry for all these hire boaters, no I do!) reminds me of one of our favourite songs – just replace December with June!! And if you’re feeling a bit flighty, underwear for overcoat 😱

https://youtu.be/5AFbCOz7jM8

State Visit

Up at 0600 – walk dog, breakfast then away by 0700 – at last, going with the flow, down the Llangollen canal, back to Trevor basin. We left early to avoid the crowds and the forecast of torrential rain at 1100.

And here’s the proof!
past the wharf – all’s quiet . .. .
looking down on the town
Out and around the narrows – going with the flow is soooo different

And then into the basin for an overnight stop. CRT had put stickers on the visitor moorings, commandeering them for a “Let’s Fish” event, 0730-1700 the next day. Not too happy about this as it meant we had to get up early again, to move the boat away. Hmm, even CRT’s own regulations prohibit fishing from visitor moorings and here they are promoting it! (Don’t get me started!!) But we are the compliant type and moved our boat at 0720 – back and tied to some trees. Then we were told the bit opposite Anglo-Welsh is actually a visitor mooring and so we moved there and waited for the Royal Party to arrive!

A view of our original mooring (just to prove that we did move!)
Max & Colin were staying at the Lion Quays hotel and had driven over to Trevor for 10 o’clock. Time to have a look over our wee ship, some tea & coffee and then the transit over the aqueduct – it almost stopped raining!
Colin walks over – taking some action photos! Hopefully the best of, will be sent via email and will appear here later
It did rain, a lot and then some! The river Dee below was a torrent compared to last week.
It’s still a surreal experience, this Stream in the Sky as it was called
Steve happy to drive (still not from the “dodgy” side notice!)
Our guests disembarked and walked back to the visitor centre – we chugged on, in the rain and through the Chirk tunnel – easy this time, going with the flow and no waiting either. All the solar lights come on, thinking it’s night time.
Chirk Bank – we stopped at Chirk and had lunch in the Poacher – dogs welcome! And despite the huge downpour and very muddy towpath, we met Max & Colin for lunch and jolly good it was too – lots of that rotisserie chicken, beer and “port n lemon”!
Not content with a huge lunch – it was time for a huge (or not so in Viv’s case – don’t mention Waldorf Salad!) dinner back at the hotel after cocktails & canapés on board Adagio – very nice.
Sunset at Lion Quays
Some fresh air on the verandah
And yes, despite the spelling mistake, we did get our free drink!
Quite a nice mooring spot, if a bit silted up! We said our goodbyes after breakfast & Max and Colin drove back to Barry, we saw the forecast (rain later) and decided to push off too
A nice morning – the sun came out and it did get quite warm. An easy-ish cruise, down the two New Marton locks and count the bridges down from 17W to 1W. Aiming to moor by the Frankton locks by lunchtime. There were boats coming up a plenty and at the last lock there must have been 10 boats waiting!

Final mooring spot – reversing in to the junction before the locks – hopefully away from the stream of hire boats! Toby’s happy . . . now where is that already started bottle of white wine? What a lovely weekend.

Ein hail ddiwrnod yn Llangollen

Yes, it’s our second and final day here in Llangollen. Sunshine and showers. Viv goes off on a wander to look in the shops – Steve cleans & tidies boat. Later we all walk to the Horseshoe Falls.

Beyond the basin, the canal continues to its source at the Horseshoe Falls
Motorised boats not allowed and anyway, there’s nowhere to turn around
This delightful chap & his boat can go – they simply swap the rudder & tiller to the other end and the horse pulls em back
Some awfully nice houses along the way – this one is for sale (£650,000)
It turned out nice
The Horseshoe falls – just a very small bit is drawn off to feed the canal, the majority flows on down the river Dee
Viv at the Falls
And Toby In the Falls!
Quite a serene spot but the clouds were gathering . . rain was coming
So, 12 million gallons a day eh? No wonder it was tough going against the flow.
We took refuge in the Chainbridge hotel
And then the sun came out again – lots of canoeists about

We Made It

Yes, up and off by 0800 – slight drizzle – no one about – through the mass of hire boats and a right turn towards Llangollen. Only 4.5 miles but it should take us 3 hours – mas or menos!

Pretty deserted, for the moment and despite the chilly and damp start, it did brighten up and the views were stunning
Some bits of the canal were fairly wide and we may have reached 3 mph!
This odd bit is a winding hole (pron. as in the wind blows – as they used the wind to turn the boats) where you can turn, swing or wind the boat.
Putting on my Iolo voice – this canal has been both dramatic & traumatic in equal measure!
Ah, the tricky bit. The canal has always had problems – well it does basically cling to the hill with a drop the other side. In 1945 it was washed away, taking the railway with it plus an unfortunate train driver who saw it all too late. So it’s very narrow and shallow – only room for ONE boat. Viv goes on ahead with the 2-way radios.
A couple of boats do come through but after No 4, it was clear for us to move.
Poor Toby – waiting for master . . .
And here he comes – more “driving through treacle again” – must explain why – there’s millions of gallons flowing down the canal plus our wee ship is displacing 20+ tonnes of water – with only inches each side and underneath, all that water is being squeezed past – hence the slow progress but we’re in no hurry.
Down to 1 mph
If you’ve ever watched paint dry – here’s a new hobby . . .
Beautiful
Getting busy – another Adagio goes by
Dramatic rock face – still single file here
At Last! We’re now officially “Over by ere!”
This is Llangollen wharf – boat trips and where you pay your £6/night to moor.
Wow! Space at last. All this open water!!This wasn’t here 30 yrs ago, when we were last here! Llangollen basin – take your pick for a mooring. Electricity and water and rubbish disposal – there’s lovely!
I think it’s smiles all round
We get a nice end mooring – time for a rest. Yes, please says Toby.
Meanwhile, it’s still madness on the canal.
We are a stone’s throw from the Eisteddfod – nice.
A quick visit to the town – full of grockles and grockle shops – can’t complain, one shop had lots of pasties (oggies), beer and Tiny Rebel gin, neat. Got some cider for Colin too!
Well, that’s it. For now. We’re looking forward to meeting up with Max & Colin on the weekend – pub crawl planned already!

It Gets Worse

It’s our own fault. We should have stayed a la Plan A. But it didn’t look like rain – despite the Met Office 5 day forecast saying: Rain and lots of it, nah, we’ll go on. So we left about 11 ish – no one about. Chirk Bank was nice and so was Chirk aqueduct but then we got to the tunnel (one way) and had a bit of a wait – understatement as about 12 boats came through! Then it was our turn – normal tunnels are bad enough but going against the flow of millions of gallons of water is well, like driving a canal boat uphill!

Well, I waited for a bit but to be honest and I don’t mean to be funny but I never saw one move!
The Poachers pub. Hmm, it’s a big Marston’s pub, rotisserie and burgers n chips plus 3 of their own beers . . .hmm, maybe , maybe not
It did get to be very scenic and cottage-y
Approaching the Chirk aqueduct with a the train viaduct overhead
Quite impressive
Then the tunnel
And a bit of a wait
Gloomy inside and v-e-r-y slow going
And another one! But shorter.
One rather minor bonus – Viv’s lights come on!
And on to Froncysyllte
With a glimpse of the big one in the distance
And then we were there!
Viv walked over with Toby, doing the photos . . Steve drove – hangin on tightly
For although there’s a railing on the towpath side – there’s nothing on the offside! Just the foot or so over the box and then the 126 foot drop down to the river Dee.
The aqueduct is 1007 feet long and over 100 years old! The steel structure is sealed together with Welsh flannel and lead dipped in boiling sugar -it hardly leaks at all.
This picture was taken later for when we came over there was an absolute melee of boats – 4 hire boats, two trip boats . . . and all in the way!
Our destination was to veer right and stay in Trevor basin – full of hire boats and stuff – here you can see Adagio over on the left. Just enough room for the aqueduct trip boat to chug between us. We’ll stop here for the night and then up to LLangollen early tomorrow.
Beyond the bridge there are some moorings but these were all full up. And boy did it rain! Here are some short video sequences of the trip:

Over the aqueduct – note the slow progress!
Showing the slow progress through the second tunnel
Getting across the aqueduct, very slowly! Notice Steve isn’t sitting on the other side!
And over! Gripping! Well I was.

Back on the Golli

Monday morning came around. We enjoyed spending Saturday and Sunday at the quiet mooring back at the short arm near the top. There’s a well kept toilet block and troughs of herbs to help yourself. It was the start of a long and a bit of a gruelling day . . . more on that story later…

Up from Maesbury – more serene canal
Up to the Aston locks – not a boat in sight
Viv drives these locks
It’s Saturday and so the paddlesport place is open and there be canoeists
Luckily they are all sensible and move over – grabbing on to the side – for I with my canoe can not move off centre for I will go aground!
Initial stopping point – just by that aqueduct.
Quiet apart from this Herbert – practising his aerobatics
A view you don’t often see – the underside of the aqueduct – yes it is a big steel bath
Final resting spot for 2 days – nice and quiet.
the level is a bit down – there’s a leak somewhere
Monday morning and Chris, the duty lock keeper is there and unchaining the locks and we’re off and up 40 feet.
And out!
Left turn to Llangollen
Big hire base at Whittington – I’m guessing we’ll see a few of these heading our way later and I wasn’t wrong
Viv took this to amuse Steve!
Turnover bridge
Just 2 locks to do today at New Marton. A very windy day! Tricky to moor & manoeuvre
there was also a problem – there was some kid of underwater obstruction, stopping the bottom gates from closing. And it moved around . . .
We tried moving the boat back and forth – using the prop wash to blast it back and out of the lock . . . seemed to work but it took us all an hour!
Moving towards Chirk
Past the Lion Quays posh hotel
with their own moorings
Final spot at around 1800 that day! Bit of a long one and we were surrounded by boats which all zoomed off early next morning. Plan is to stop here today – might go later but it’s a rainy day . . we’re only a couple of hours from the big aqueduct and the End.