Taking a break

Having spent a few days in Wrenbury and then a day between bridges 3 and 4, we finally left the Llangollen canal. Passing Gordon on Cut Loose as we locked down. Spending a quiet few days in Nantwich. Letting the heatwave come and go. We tried, successfully to get a Sainsbury’s order delivered and lo, it came to pass! Brilliant. Saved the long walk into town. Mind you Steve did drive his ickle bike around quite a lot – getting some tapas from M&S plus some special gin (Tarquins, Sea Dog @57%) and some special rum (Venezuelan Diplomático) , nice, well, we finally sold our Bitcoin – bought for £400 and sold for £1,000! Set up the satellite dish, as we want to watch n record bits of Glastonbury. The Killers, one of our favourite bands are headlining on Saturday. And owing to a hard drive failure, we lost the last Glasto recording. So settled here for a couple of days……. probably not much more blog as we are retreading our steps home….. but who knows!

Sunset in Nantwich

Glad that’s Over

Well, 10 days stuck at Grindley Brook, then 3 days here in Marbury. Loads more boats turning up – 22 now. Some hire boats came and leap-frogged 5 waiting ones. Ooer, missus, there’s going to be fisticuffs – barge poles at dawn. And I was almost right. Unfortunately. We enjoyed a revisit to the Swan – perhaps the best place we’ve been to on this cruise. We didn’t enjoy Sunday night when the boats ahead of us started to move up (why?), so we followed on and I still don’t know why we did. Never mind. Up at 0600 . . letting some boats go first . . . but by 0800 we were on our way – slowly past the almost-breach, then on past two lift bridges and moor up in Wrenbury. Hurrah. Freedom. But so very very stressful and maybe the final straw?

The marvellous bar in the Swan (Beavertown Yogi and then Ursa Minor)
We got there early and had not only a choice of table but rooms too
I’ve never seena pub furnished so opulently – complete with books from the local book barn – some for sale – Viv bought Britain’s Birds and their Nests (1942)
This believe it or not, is their smoked salmon starter!
Meanwhile, here’s a view of the padlocked winding gear
And the ever growing row of boats
Soon after 0800 we were free, ish, we had to wait for 7 boats to come up . . .
So we stood and held on to our boat
Right next to, oh look, another one of those “almost breaches”!
We had to knock the throttle into neutral and glide past the “problem”
They all seemed cheerful . . the blue bit is the almost breach!
You can compare this to the earlier picture from last Friday and the Friday before that. Note the piling on the other side too.
Slowly glide past with the flow
Thru two more lift bridges . . .
And let them all go by . . . about 16 of em . . . they are welcome to it! There’s 9 locks to get thru!! Lots more queuing.
Ahh, final spot for us. Peace n quiet and no more moaning minnies. Time to wait for our chum David, who’s finished BlokeFesting (hmm, that sounds a bit rude but it isn’t, just lots of blokes singing together and probably a bit of beer drinking too) and is on his way down from Ilkley to Ubley and will meet us at that Bhurtpore Inn.

Final straw? Maybe. We’ve found the last 12 days all a bit too much. Too many boats and too many boaters. Perhaps its time to try and chill a bit more by returning to the land and a nice small cottage somewhere . . .?

Goalposts moved slightly

This is a nice quiet spot – well, no boats can go by! CRT have moved the goalposts ever so slightly, in that we have to move 0800-0900. Personally, I would want to get as many boats through as possible and then carry on working, forget the 1600-1700 slot. More boats have joined the ever lengthening queue….

Hmm, 19 boats here now!

Marbury – Little Gem

We decided to rise early and get going by 0800, and lo, it came to pass. Soooooo quiet! Can this really be the Golli? Well. It IS so different from the the other week when there are boats going by from 0600 until dark! Today, we didn’t pass a single moving boat, idyllic. We moved on down the Llangollen canal, thru the three locks – Povey, Willey Moor & Quoisley to Marbury…..

Meanwhile, last night we went back to the Horse & Jockey – be a shame not to really . . last night here after all! More tapas & beer. What a swell pub.
Glad to have moved to the bottom of the locks . . and glad to say goodbye to Grindley Brook
So, early Friday morning, 21st June . . . we moved off . . .
We were feeling a bit as if we had a bit of a cold so I volunteered to wind the locks and Viv drives . .
Beautiful & empty canal
Povey lock
Viv slides in seamlessly
Willey Moor lock & pub . . . aren’t we going in, says Toby? Noo it’s only 0830!!
More seamless driving from the Admiral
Here’s the book view – travelling, right to left, from the S to just beyond Marbury
Approaching Quoisely lock – looks lovely
This was meant to be a boater’s tip about staying in front of the cill when descending locks but it turned out to be an arty photo . .
Arrived at Marbury . . . and this is as far as we can go. The lock paddles were all padlocked.
I think we are No 6 in the queue – there were 10 by the end of the day with a lot more expected!
Well, there could be compensations . . . .
Steve did cycle off, as is his wont, to see the breach and the mooring options in Wrenbury – they do seem prepared for the Monday expedition. Very few boats at Wrenbury.
They were still shovelling in rocks on the brook side . . . but left quite soon (well, it is a Friday afternoon)
Around about 4 – we sauntered off to see this Swan pub
Opposite were some lovely houses
Quite a smart village with a lovely church with well kept gardens
With a large Mere – a very scenic spot
They forgot to add “don’t even think of even looking in this direction” – shame cos Toby fancied a swim
A truly beautiful spot . . .
As was the Swan! In fact I’d go as far to say, the very best pub we have yet to come across. Bought and refurbished by the owner just over a year ago. Such a lovely arrangement of flower beds and inside was exquisite too. Excellent array of beers and ciders plus a very interesting food menu . . . we’ll be back . . . tomorrow and maybe Sunday too!
See https://www.swanatmarbury.co.uk/

We’re Free!


Well, maybe a bit overly dramatic but yes, we are Free!

So the plan is to move towards Marbury – some 3 hours away . . .

Full credit to the guys working for CRT for getting the navigation navigable again, even if it is rather restricted. After receiving this memo, we decided to move down the locks today. The chains had come off! Firstly, Steve had to cycle into town to pick up an Amazon order for some new underwear (and was tickled when asked “do you want to track your package?”). This was collected plus some essentials from Tesco’s. We swung the boat and after lunch, descended the triple staircase locks with help from John the lockie and Viv. We are now sitting just along from the bottom 3 single locks, so I suppose, still in Grindley Brook but will move off early tomorrow, hopefully ahead of the herd. (Stampede?). Hopefully too we may hook up with our old travelling chum & beer consultant, David Thomas who is passing through these parts – with the lure of abundant real ales in the Bhurtpore Inn, for example. Meanwhile, there’s still a chance of a snack back in the ever delightful Horse & Jockey.

Still Stuck

Yes, we aren’t still stuck. Been here for almost a week now. Shame the town (Whitchurch) is such a walk away. I’ve cycled there and back a few times, to pick up pills (for yes, you can get prescriptions sent on to a local pharmacy), catch a train and visit Sainsbury’s. We’ll wait until the Friday pronouncement , to see if they are going to allow passage under restrictions. Otherwise we’ll head back up to somewhere remote like Whixall Moss.

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!


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