Saturday, 31 March 2012

Back to the Fron

We're now back in our mooring at Froncysyllte, as Dave has started work at Chirk Marina getting the Black Prince and Crest narrowboats ready for the summer season.  We didn't have time to stop at Mad Jack's (Pub) this time, as we'd had too much of a jolly time over the last few days meeting up with friends.  Never mind, we'll have many more opportunities to visit over the summer. 
We're in very familiar territory now......

Frankton Junction.  We'll no doubt be disappearing down the Monty for a few days when the boat traffic gets too much to bear!

Past Mr. Badger's house near Maestermyn

Hold on - this isn't familiar at all!  A field full of plastic sticks between the New Marton locks!

Any ideas? No prizes for the right answer, but what on earth are they?

We pass some lovely gardens on the way, this one is at the Lock House at New Marton top lock.

Alot of thought has gone into this one, I should have taken a close up of blokey's pipe and beer bottle.  They also sell free range eggs, which are fantastic.  (Between Br 14 & 15)

My Nain (gran) had one of these in the back 'workshop' we used to have great fun with it as kids "helping" with the washing.

Getting nearer Chirk now - Kronospan smoke dominating the skyline

Croeso Y Cymru (Welcome to Wales).  The crossing of the River Ceiriog on the Chirk Aqueduct [click] signals our return to Wales.  Alongside it, the Chirk Viaduct [click] , built 50 years after the aqueduct, and 30 feet higher, to demonstrate the superiority of rail transport over canal transport.  As soon as you get off the aqueduct, it's straight into Chirk Tunnel [click for lots of pics]

Once out of Chirk tunnel, at last  they're doing something to the towpath.  This was the last bit of towpath which hadn't been 'done' and as you can see from the pics, it was (and still is) a quagmire.  Impossible to walk through, luckily there is a path through the woods above.

Couldn't see any drainage pipes being installed though.  I'm no engineer, but I wouldn't have thought a plastic membrane underneath the new stone would do much to alleviate the flooding on the path.  Like I said... I'm no expert, so let's wait and see.

This is all that remains of Black Park Wharf, opposite Chirk Golf Club.  I've got a lovely photo of a family leading a horse drawn boat way back when, in my Edward Wilson book of the Llangollen Canal, but as is always the case, I can't find the book.

The 'layby' outside Chirk Tunnel has been complete, and there's now room for 3 large boats to moor up and visit the village, or explore the castle.  All that remains to be done now is to install some rings, as it's getting all churned up by people having to bang mooring spikes into the rock hard ground. It's so frustrating that such a lovely job has been done on it, making moorings for boats to use the village, but not quite finishing the job by not putting in a few rings.  

Notice outside Whitehurst (Whitehouses) Tunnel, like the one at Ellesmere, says 'Two way traffic'.  There's hardly enough room for one boat to go through, never mind two!  I wonder if anyone will try it over the summer!

At last - some new trees.  We've been seeing trees being chopped down for the last two months, and this is the first time we've seen new trees planted, these are assorted fruit trees at Whitehurst.

Getting closer now, the Cefn viaduct visible through the trees.

Here we are, back home, BBQ has been dusted down and outside table and chairs in position ready for the sun.  We'll be on our mooring till September, when (all being well) we'll be off again for the winter.  That doesn't mean we're not going to cruise around here though .....

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Another lovely day for cruising.  Past Blakemere

Contractors refilling the towpath with stone up ahead at Blakemere.  The job made very awkward by boats moored infront and behind the works.  No one on them of course. 

Exiting Ellesmere tunnel.  BW notice either side of the tunnel says "Two way working".  Really? 
I don't think so!

Tree fellers haven't yet reached here, but the trees have been marked with a great red dot, indicating that they're for the chop.

Just a couple of the many sculptures around here.  There's a sculpture trail [click] for you to follow.

Major works going on at the wharf.  Huge complex of retirement apartments

Lovely old houses on the way to the White Hart - which is holding a beer festival on Friday 6th April to Monday 9th.  Large selection of real ales, music, hog roast etc.

Beech house at the junction
BW yard at Ellesmere.  The foreman's office window is in the centre of this pic, he had a viewpoint across the whole of the site.

More major works going on around Tesco's.  We await to see what theyre building now.

Hobbit Holes

There's some lovely bridges between Grindley Brook and Ellesmere, some with Hobbit Holes..

Perhaps the water is receeding after all...
Carved owl on top of a telegraph pole near Furber's lift bridge

We heard that there are very active badgers burrowing around Furber's, and that a breach isn't out of the question.  Let's hope not.

Mike - as promised - some photos for you, ex Maestermyn boats we've passed along the way.....

James Howard, still floating at Calf Heath

Buddug near Hurleston, with a very jolly paint job.

No name, at Marbury.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Onto the Llangollen Canal

Lovely cruising weather as we turned into Hurleston Locks, and onto the Llangollen Canal.  Had a bit of a chat with Linda, in the lock house.  She is now the proprietor of the Cheshire Cat Narrowboats, operating out of Audlem marina.  She used to be the lock keeper at Hurleston locks.

Spectacular views looking accross to Cheshire

This is where the water from the River Dee in Llangollen ends up - at Hurleston reservoir, where it is treated, and sold to provide the drinking water to the good people of Cheshire.

This is what appears to be a rocket, sited at the rear of Swanley Marina.  We could do with something like that up in Fron, to combat speeding, crashing day boats.

This boat moored at Wrenbury Frith nursery lift bridge hasn't had a licence since 2005!
Unfortunately it was too early in the day & the Willeymoor pub hadn't yet opened it's doors.

The house at Grindley Brook bottom lock still looks unoccupied.  Reminder to self:  buy a lotto ticket.  We met up with Buffy & had a pint in the Horse & Jockey - another pub which has improved no end in the last couple of years, with a choice of 6 real ales.  Buffy's doing well, and now has a new dog "Charlie".  You may remember her last dog "Joe", a collie who was always smartly dressed in his red neckerchief, who enthusiastically escorted boats up and down Grindley Brook locks all day.

Into Grindley Brook staircase locks, with the water cascading over the top gates.  Slowly with that paddle please Dave!  Jane and Dave were busy getting things sorted out in the lock shop, which was due to open the following weekend (24th), ready for another season.

The lovely weather has certainly brought the boats out.  It's like being back on our moorings with boats going past before 7am.  I do think the Llangollen canal will be busier than usual this year.  We already have restrictions on canals "dahn saaf" in an attempt to conserve water, so I think this will mean increased boat traffic on those canals where water shortages are not a problem, like the Shroppie and the Llangollen.  We'll see...
We've seen loads of birds in the last month.  Lapwings have been doing their diving dances, and we've seen - and heard - more skylarks than we ever have.  There's more blackbirds around than you can shake a stick at, and we've also seen a few thrushes, which we haven't seen for a long time.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Heading up the Shroppie

A few days behind with the blog due to rubbish mobile internet signal, but I get to go through our journey again, which is nice.....
This should have been an atmospheric picture of a heron outlined in the bridge hole on a misty morning.  However, the heron ducked down to give himself lift to take off, and it now looks like a stone. Ah well. 

We found the tree cutters near Gnosall, coincidentally, Gnosall was stuffed full of boats, no wonder we'd hardly seen any on the way up.  It would appear that the tree cutters are being followed.

High Bridge, carrying a short telegraph pole

Top of Audlem; the bank has been dredged and edged

and all the muck which was removed, has been put in the adjacent field.

Quite a bit of water coming dow, it does get a whole lot worse after any rain!

Volunteers wanted to take part in a study conducted by a volunteer, into the contribution given by volunteers. Who's going to volunteer to monitor the volunteer, monitoring volunteers?  There's probably a department set up for that.

There's a wonderful art exhibition at the moment in Audlem Mill [click] which runs until the 14th April.  It's worth a visit if you're passing that way. 

I forgot to mention the farm at the top of Adderley Locks.  Really good farm shop, with excellent meat.  We dropped lucky, as the farmer's wife was due to go to a farmer's market the following day, so there was all sorts of cuts of meat, all free range, and their own animals.  I had a lovely huge chicken for only £7, cheap (excuse the pun) when I spent £6 in Morrisons on a large chicken that wasn't even free range.   

We continued our journey up the Shroppie as we decided that there was time for one last jolly before having to come home - we wanted to try The Badger at Church Minshall, as it had recently re-opened after 5/6 years of being closed - more of that later. 
I'm afraid there's bad news regarding the wonderful, peaceful, quiet moorings at Coole Pilate - they've built a clay pigeon shoot in the field opposite.  No - I'm not kidding.  The noise was horendous.

Wherever we go near a motorway - anywhere around the country - we always see a McCarthy Haulage truck from Wrexham.  Some people are Eddie Stobart spotters, some people aren't.

This eerie thing was floating from the tiller in the breeze.  Spooky.

And so on to Church Minshall and The Badger [click]  It was well worth the detour.  Excellent food and of course - real ale.  Go there if you can - you won't be disappointed.

View from the boat, looking down on Church Minshall.