Soggy Sunday at Grindley Brook

After a fine lazy day on our mooring yesterday, we were made to pay for it today. Rain had been forecast, but we had reached the end of our 48 hour time limit. We also needed the services at the Viking Afloat hirebase. We had two options, a quick dash to get the pump out done followed by immediately mooring at the Whitchurch Arm or, continue on down the flight of locks at Grindley Brook, where we could stop for up to 14 days. Having already got wet we went for option two. We were aiming to be at this spot by Tuesday anyway, as the crew is taking a few days shore leave later in the week. There was a further benefit to stopping here, the Horse and Jockey P.H. It was lunchtime when we finished securing the boat so we popped in to see what was on offer. The food was great. Now back on the boat, all warm and snug watching an afternoon film, whilst wet bedraggled boaters are cruising by outside.

Totals 3 Miles 6 Locks
Running total 379 Miles 169 Locks 17 Tunnels

Duddleston Bridge 37 nr Whitchurch

This morning we moved forward towards the Ellesmere Arm, and whilst the crew replenished supplies at the conveniently located Tesco, I filled the water tank at the CRT service yard. Knowing the starboard side of the boat was going to be inaccessible from the towpath for some time, I also gave it a quick wash down. I then navigated to the end of the Ellesmere Arm and waited for the crew to finish shopping. The weather was as forecast cloudy, but with the sun breaking through in places. It quickly became apparent that today was going to be busy with boat traffic in both directions. Passing through the short Ellesmere Tunnel, the Francis Searchlight on the front of the boat illuminated its entire 87 yard length. We had a trip of 11 miles to do which is a long day for us, so we broke up the trip, taking lunch just beyond the junction with the Prees Branch. Not long after passing under the second of two lift bridges, we began to look for a mooring spot. We need to stop for two days to coincide with our arrangement to use the services at the Viking Afloat hirebase at Whitchurch on Sunday. We found a nice spot just prior to bridge 37 with clear views to the sky for the satellite, and 3G on the phone for Internet access. We are forecast some heavy weather tomorrow so we can now batten down the hatches if need be.

       

       

                                              Mooring at Duddleston Bridge 37 nr Whitchurch.

Totals 11 Miles 1 Tunnel
Running total 376 Miles 163 Locks 17 Tunnels

Ellesmere

Continuing our return journey along the Llangollen Canal, today we travelled as far as Ellesmere. We had to navigate the two New Marton Locks and pass through Frankton Junction. We have decided not to visit the Montgomery Canal this year due to its partial closure. On route we met an increasing number of mainly hire boats, usually at the tightest bridges and bends. Some were ok at steering and some were not, but we were able to avoid any unwanted contact. Having said that we have collected quite a few scrapes to our blacking on this canal. On arrival at Ellesmere we moored in our previous spot a couple of hundred yards from the Ellesmere Arm Junction. We will stay here a day or two, moving into the arm only to visit Tesco when we are departing.

Totals 9 Miles 2 Locks
Running total 365 Miles 163 Locks 16 Tunnels

Chirk

Our short time in Llangollen over, this morning we eased out of the basin and entered the narrows. Travelling with the flow made for far easier going, although we still bumped the bottom a bit. We did meet a few hire boats on route but fortunately at the wider parts of the canal. We crossed the ‘stream in the sky’ (Pontcysyllte) before passage through the two tunnels and then Chirk Aquaduct. As we reached the end of the Aquaduct we passed a sign saying ‘Welcome to England’. Our destination was only a mile further on by the Poachers Pocket P.H. There was a free spot directly outside which we took advantage of whilst we stopped for lunch. The mooring was ok, but had the potential to be a bit noisy if the pub got busy in the evening. So after lunch we moved the boat a couple of hundred yards further on. We will probably stay here for a day or so to recuperate from our Welsh adventure.

Totals 9 Miles 2 Tunnels
Running total 356 Miles 161 Locks 16 Tunnels

Llangollen update

Today as planned we took a trip on the Llangollen railway. The line runs for ten miles to the village of Corwen. Various types of engine are used, and it is possible using the timetable to choose how you travel, either by steam or diesel. We, for obvious reasons choose steam. The return trip take about 1 hour 40 mins, however we opted to depart the train at the village of Carrog. Here the engine is turned from one end of the train to the other. The village also hosts the Grouse P.H. which was recommended to us by the guard for lunch, and is dog friendly. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so here they are.

       

                                                            On approach to Carrog Station.

       

                                                              The end of the line, currently.

       

                                                                           Carrog Station.

       

                                                                 Engine 5199 built in 1934.

                                      
       
       
                                                         Stunning scenery surrounding the River Dee.
On our return journey we disembarked the train at Berwyn. It was then just a short walk over a newly constructed chain bridge across the River Dee to Horseshoe Falls. This is a Horseshoe shaped weir on the river designed by Thomas Telford to raise the river level, providing a feeder for the Llangollen Canal. The flow rate into the canal exceeds 13 million gallons a day.
       
                                                                         Horseshoe Falls.
       
                                                                            Berwyn Bridge.
There is a strict 48 hour time limit in Llangollen Basin and our time is up tomorrow lunchtime. The weather looks fair so we are going to head back towards Chirk. This time we are going with the flow, so I expect the return journey will be easier.

    

                                                          

Llangollen

With a certain amount of trepidation, we slipped out of the Trevor arm at 8.50 this morning and commenced the turn onto the final stretch of the Llangollen Canal. The reason we were unsure how the day would go, is because the Nicholson’s Guides in their navigational notes, advise against commencing this section of canal if your boat draws more than 21 inches. Our boat draws at least 30, possibly 32 inches, and I had visions of getting stuck halfway, blocking the canal at the height of the holiday season. You will be pleased to know, and we certainly are, that Nicholson’s are wrong. Yes we bumped along the bottom in a couple of places and the final narrow was painfully slow, barely inching along on tickover. Other than that, not much else to report on our short, four mile incident free journey. We only met a couple of boats on the way and the basin at the end had plenty of room. So we are now all secure and plugged into mains electric for our two day stay. The Icebreaker mentioned in yesterday’s post had also made it.

       

                                                    The landscape is becoming increasingly hilly.

       

       

                                                        The hills above Llangollen ahead.

       

       

                                     Single passage only at this point but the water is crystal clear.

       

                                                      The final narrow towards Llangollen Basin.

       

                                                                   All secure in the basin.

       

                                                                     The town of Llangollen.

       

                                                       Llangollen bridge crossing the river Dee.

During a walk round the town we found the railway station, and tomorrow we are in for a real treat. Llangollen to Corwen and back by steam train, including a trip to the famous Horseshoe Falls, the source of the Llangollen Canal.
Totals 4 Miles
Running total 347 Miles 161 Locks 14 Tunnels

Trevor/Pontcysyllte

We departed St. Martins’s Moor at 9.30 this morning and an hour later we were passing through Chirk, approaching the first of two aqueducts we were going to cross today. The Chirk Aquaduct is the smaller of the two but running parallel with it is an impressive structure carrying the railway.

       

                                                        On final approach to the Chirk Aquaduct.

       

                            Joining the Chirk Aquaduct with the railway to the left and Chirk Tunnel ahead.

       

       

                                             The crew steering whilst I hopped off to take a few snaps.

       

                                               Not as high as the next one but a taste of things to come.

Chirk Tunnel proved interesting. It is only 459 yards long, but due to navigating against the flow it was slow going, and 100 feet from the exit we nearly came to a complete halt. Next we passed Chirk Marina which has a big hire base. We are hoping that between 9 and 2 tomorrow most of the hire fleet will be off the system due to it being change over day when we attempt the final leg into Llangollen. The route involves navigating a few narrow single passage sections so the fewer boats to meet the better.
       

                                                         Chirk Marina and Black Prince hire base.

A few hundred yards further on is Whitehouse Tunnel. Progress was again slow but this tunnel is shorter at only 191 yards. It was then only a mile to go until the highlight of the day. The canal was very shallow in places, and we often found ourselves bouncing along the bottom. Rounding the bend at the village of Froncysyllte, we could see through gaps in the trees the Vale of Llangollen, and the height of the canal from the valley floor below. Joining the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct it seemed as if the wind picked up. The boat was being blown against the thin side of the cast iron trough, and that was all that was preventing a big drop. (Perhaps it was my bad steering).
       

                                                  Beginning the transit of the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct.

       

                                  Viewing down the Vale of Llangollen with railway viaduct in the distance.

       

                                                            Viewing up the valley towards Llangollen.

       

                                                         Looking over the edge to the river Dee below.

Once over the aquaduct we entered the short arm for the village of Trevor and after winding and reversing we secured ourselves at the end of the arm. Over the last few days we have been trying to decide whether to take the boat the final leg to Llangollen as the canal is even more shallow and we have quite a deep draught. After seeking advice from various people we have decided to go for it. Moored close to us is a 1940’s Ice Breaker called Spitfire. They are also going to Llangollen tomorrow. These old icebreakers are quite deep so we should be ok. 
Totals 8 Miles 2 Tunnels and 2 Big Aquaducts
Running total 343 Miles 161 Locks 14 Tunnels