Wednesday, 23 March 2011

That's it folks - we're back home

Everything on the mooring is as we left it, although we have got new neighbours in Dave's old mooring on the end - not the best spot to be as anyone with an online mooring will tell you.  We're glad to be in the middle, people have usually slowed down by the time they get to us, and hit us with glancing parallel scrapes, rather than full on.

Dave & Hazel.  Dave's sorting out the HUGE tv aerial he's mounted on the bank, in the vain hope of getting all the digi channels.  They have cleared a couple of trees over the winter so reception may have improved a little.  It's OK now, just gets worse as the summer goes on, with more leaves on the trees.  We had time to collect some more wood through Chirk, which Dave managed to do without falling in, or even getting just a little bit wet.

Oh joy - the day boat (1 of 4) - I've missed you like a hole in the head!

Well, that's it folks.  We're back in our mooring in Froncysyllte until the end of September.  As it's such a poor reception area for mobiles, I've got no chance of loading any photos onto the blogspot, indeed I'd be lucky if I actually opened the blogspot at all (I'm doing this one from my mother's house and broadband - eee technology).  So it's au revoir.  Have a lovely summer cruising.  Thank you for reading what was hopefully an amusing diary of our winter adventures & we'll be back doing the same thing come autumn.  Dave & Sue

Almost Home

What a fantastic few days of cruising. Just the kind of weather that makes you want to GO on a trip - not return from one facing work - or even no work (still haven't heard if I've got a job or not)
Beefur crossing Chirk Aqueduct alongside the Viaduct

Not far now .....

View through the trees to the Cefn Viaduct

Time for a chat with Carole & Peaches (Strider)

Ellesmere to Chirk

We had a bit of a laugh on the way up the Llangollen - we played "spot the continuous moorer".  We wrote down a list of names of boats who have scarecely moved up and down the Llangollen Canal over the last few years - and ticked them off as we came to them. All were present and correct - including the one outside Jack Myttons - you know the one - featured in Canal Boat magazine recently as it had been squashed by a falling tree last winter & there he was, back in the very same spot!.  We were missing one boat from the list, but friends had spotted it on the Shroppie, so not that far away then.  There were a few additions which we'll add to the next list & look out for next time we're out.

We met up with an old friend in Mad Jacks, and had a lovely evening. It's been nice catching up with people.
These lovely chickens roaming very freeley, produced these fantastic eggs ....

Very tasty they were too ! 

Quick pint on the way past the Lion Quays - had to take a run into the pontoons as they were so silted up, you've got no chance of getting all the way into the pontoons on the road side, as there's only 6" of water!

The towpath has finally been done between the Poacher's Pocket and Chirk Bank and the contractors are currently carrying out work between Llangollen & Trevor so that's 11 miles of reasonable towpath throughout the World Heritage Site from P/P to Llangollen/Pentrefelin - unless it's been raining, when the bit of towpath between Chirk Tunnel & Marina becomes a bit of a quagmire!

Ellesmere Sculpture Trail

If you haven't already done it, have a look at the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail , which is a gentle tour of Ellesmere, incorporating the sculptures sited over the last 3 years.  For some strange reason, not all sculptures are listed in the "sculpture trail" which is rather frustrating - you see some wierd canalside object, but you can't find out what it is exactly!
I thought this one was of a horse - it turns out that it's the bow of a boat.  Shows how much I know.

Now this one DOES look like the bow of a boat...
located opposite the BW yard at Ellesmere, on the junction.  It has some wonderful old photographs imposed on the tiles inside it.

And one of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - or is it a seat ..


We took our time coming up the Llangollen, mainly due to seeing so many people along the way!  Met up with Dot & Kevin, who kindly took us to their local by car for a pint.  Their "local" now being about 5-6 miles away, due to the Waggoners Inn burning down a couple of years ago.  We passed it on the way - it hasn't even got a roof on the building, so no sign of it reopening any time soon - despite signs still visible on the canal!  Managed to have a night in Blakemere on the way, it is a beautiful place - but still no kingfishers. As we hadn't seen any on the way, we felt sure they'd be here in one of their old haunts, but sadly no signs. 

What about this for some nifty paintwork .....

What's this boat called then ?  
Very unusual - The Maid of Fibre is a "knitting sanctuary", where you are invited to come and view their yarns, and also an opportunity to stay on board this knitting hotel for upto 7 days. 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

New Hire Fleet for Llangollen Canal ?

Could this be the start of something?  I'd love Anglo Welsh at Trevor Basin to start using these plastic boats as day boats - it would save alot of damage as they slowly glide past us - instead of the usual 5mph bouncing between boats and the concrete!
Well, we're back on the Llangollen Canal, on the last few days of our cruise.  We turned right at Hurleston to go up the locks, unfortunately there was a boat stuck in the bottom lock & couldn't get out as he had all his fenders down (despite signs top and bottom of the flight which say "lift all fenders").  Luckily it was a small boat & could move forward and backwards in the lock chamber and eventually managed to lift the fenders and exit the lock.  He was very lucky he wasn't 'hung up' by his fenders.  As soon as he got out, he dropped all his fenders again!  That was lock 1.  Lock 2:  People from the boat coming down came to "help", by opening the top paddles with great gusto, needless to say the boat shot backwards before Dave was ready.  Never mind, nothing broken.  Lock 3:  More helpers from said boat coming down (private boat I might add) then shut the lock gates in front of us.  Thanks.  Lock 4:  Couldn't get in as it was too shallow so we had to let some water down so we could float again.  This doesn't happen when there's a Lock keeper!

Beefur passing through Wrenbury lift bridge - Dave does the bridge and I do the boat due to all the barriers, lights and hooters going off.

Dave did a 2 mile hike from Wrenbury to a pub he'd read about and he wasn't disappointed - The Bhurtpore Inn had 11 draft beers.  Just as well, as the Dusty Miller was closed and having major work carried out.

Major work also being carried out on Marbury Lock Cottage

Glad we haven't got a 70ft boat with the amount of water pouring in over the top gates of the middle lock at Grindley Brook due to leaking gates on the top staircase lock.  Just an hour before, there had been an altercation at the locks where a lady on a boat coming up who had set the locks in her favour was shouted at and told to get back as a bloke at the top decided he was coming down.  Apparently it was the boat coming up who was there first, doing everything right.  The boat at the top came down in such a rush that he managed to leave most of the paddles up, so flooding the lock surrounds. 
Yes - it was an ex-Challenger boat!  Again, no Lock keeper.

Breathe in:  Passing Viking Afloat - it's impossible to squeeze through without bumping into these boats - 5 deep in places!

Money well spent on the bollards then ......

Thursday, 17 March 2011


We moored above Tilstone Lock again, so we could have a walk to the Dysert Arms, opposite the church at Bunbury (huge church for a small village).  Lovely pub, good beer and friendly locals.  Each Brunning & Price pub is very different inside - until you go to the loo!  Exactly the same green tiles on the walls, and loo doors with a latch, as in all the other B & P pubs we've visited.

Deer on the grounds of Beeston Castle - apparently there's been a herd here since the 13th century.  It was market day (wednesday) as we passed through, but didn't visit - we spent enough money on diesel at Chas Hardens! 

Beeston castle WW2 fuel bunkers, containing 6 underground fuel tanks, with ventilation shafts.  This isn't the greatest picture in the world, for better pics, click HERE

That's one big motorbike to cart on and off your bow!
That short blog took an amazing 5 hours to complete with such a duff signal.  I didnt have the heart to do today's.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Out of Chester

We were up early (for us) to get up the Northgate staircase locks, and get some shopping done on the way out of Chester.  Unfortunately we didn't get very far - someone's trousers wrapped themselves around the prop so we ground to a halt.  This spot is just unlucky for Dave - it's exactly the same spot that Dave's Dad fell in the canal after he missed his footing whilst getting back on the boat after coming down the locks on a holiday on Dave's boat (Sans Souci) back in 1994.  Dave managed to remove the offending pants without too much trouble & we were on our way.  The boats moored in the basin have taken root - one's been there 3 weeks now & the other two, 2 weeks each (according to the boat yard) - so much for 48 hour mooring!

There's alot of water behind those gates!

Is that the train to Chirk going past?

Ah, The Old Harkers Arms.  After much (ehem) research over the last few days, we conclude that the pub we favoured most in Chester, is this one, so we had to re-visit to make sure.  Although we didnt eat here, the menu looked good, (but not alot of vegetarian choice).  Dogs were allowed in, and of course the beer was excellent, oh, and there are moorings right outside, now what more can you ask for?

On the way out of Chester, we moored outside the Frog & Nightingale (silly name, so didn't investigate), which is close to Tesco & stocked up with the necessary as we didn't have far to carry it - especially as trolly dolly is no more after the wheels fell off.  After a quick visit to Aberkhan for some more hessian (Chester prices), and a dash to the wonderful cheese shop on Northgate Street, we were off. 
Although there are a few new marinas in this area, it doesn't seem to have diminished the long line of moorings between Chester & Beeston, they go on and on for miles.  Never mind, we didn't have a deadline & moored up a couple of miles the Chester side of Beeston, in the middle of nowhere - all quiet after the sirens of the city.  Nemo cat is impressed with our mooring tonight, Chester was a bit to lively for him!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Boat Museum

As stated yesterday, we had a few hours looking around the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum.  It's was fascinating - an absolute delight to anyone interested in canals and boats, crammed full of all things boaty, from an historic boat collection, archives, and wonderfully restored vintage engines.  Click on the link above to have a look.  I don't want to write too much about it as the website of the museum is far more informative than I can be.
These locks mark the end of the Shropshire Union Canal and carry you down onto the Manchester Ship Canal.  Click HERE to see why we have no intention of going any further & turned around at Ellesmere Port!
Sorry about the bright yellow saab - kind of distracts you from the view of the boats
This is a pic of Porters Row: Traditional cottages "lovingly recreated picture of domestic life throughout the ages.  The cottages recreate homes from the 1840s, 1900s, 1930s and 1950s - each with the decor and feature of its time".  Complete with outside loo.  Excuse me sir!
An old boiler (no jokes please)
Dave especially wanted to see this Armstrong Siddeley twin - he has an AS1 single cylinder in his boat Sans Souci

We had a lovely day in the countryside.  As you can see, the towpath is excellent all the way from Chester to Ellesmere Port, unfortunately it's part of a cycle route so you really have to be on your guard - they don't slow down & sneak up on you from behind.  However, it's nice to see people taking advantage of our canals,  walking with families & making use of a free afternoon out.  So if it takes a cycle track to improve the towpaths - so be it.  We'll have to move tomorrow as we're now riding on fumes.  Just hope we've got enough diesel to get us to Chas Harden's.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Chester & Ellesmere Port

We had a lovely couple of days in Chester Basin, now overlooked by the new apartment blocks.  Dave's birthday got off to a good start, (he's now officially a Grumpy Old Man),  whilst I was out shopping & checking out the delights of the Aberkhan fabric shop, I came across ye olde authentic West Cornwall Pasty shop, so that was Dave's breakfast sorted.  He has always said he could eat a pasty at any time of day!  Later, Mum came to visit and we did a walk around the walls - my thighs are re-living all the steps up and down now.  Mum also brought our mail, with some birthday cards for Dave - the day was getting better and better.  We sampled a couple of pints on the way round the walls, Mum was very patient as she was driving.  We ended up in Telfords Warehouse for some much needed food.  It was Friday night and we were perhaps an hour out with our timing, as it ended up full of 'young people' out on the pull.  Nice place though, with good food, but when we left there were bouncers on the door & we felt very old!
Mum & Dav e on the walls near the Cathedral.  Why does he always have to pull such faces???
We also had a walk down the locks from the canal onto the River Dee, I thought it wa still possible to lock down onto the river - but not looking at these gates.
View from The Clock
Had to include this pic - it's the beluga (or guppy) coming into land at Broughton.
As our 48 hours were up on the mooring in Chester basin, we decided to go on a jaunt to Ellesmere Port Boat Museum (will post the pics tomorrow), with the intention of coming back to Chester - blow the 48 hours - the other 3 boats have taken up residence there so I don't think we have to worry.  We were pleasantly surprised by the rural landscape on the first half of the journey & we spied a great mooring we would come back to after visiting the Boat Museum & not have to sprint back to Chester (great - as the six nations rugby was on the telly later).  After about 4 miles, the landscape changed to the more industrial that I expected.   We also clocked some more lopped trees on the way - we'll get the logs on the way back.
Above - lovely viaduct, with many arches & below one of many metal sculptures near the bridges on the way

Rural landscape disappears & Stanlow refinery appears
As for that wood mentioned earlier - we remembered where it was, great, got the bow into the off side bank, lovely, wood was cut into pieces 2 ft long, fantastic.  I jumped off with the bow rope & held the nose in.  Dave excitedly shimmied down the gunnel from the back and jumped off to collect his booty.  Two large pieces of wood, one in each hand, leapt onto the front of the boat, then everything went into slow motion - I was still holding the bow rope, he teetered on the front, swayed back, then forward, nope he was ok, then he looked round with that look "what shall I do now" as he again swayed backwards, raising one arm with a huge log, then the other arm, again with a big log, "which one should I let go" look came on his face as he fell backwards into the canal, throwing the left arm log onto the front deck, but going down with the one in his right hand.  Another dunking getting wood, he still hasn't got the hang of it.  Anyway, dripping and squelching, Dave was not going to let this wood go, so it's now neatly stacked on the roof.

A cracking game of rugby, and another lovely day.  Lovely peaceful mooring between motorways and  industry, opposite a golf course on designated moorings.  Although we didn't get any trouble in Chester basin, Telford's Warehouse was a bit rowdy last night and the shouting in the street continued till after 4am, not disturbing a snoring old man! but that's life in a town/city - me - I'm a country bumpkin and proud of it!,