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

St. Martin’s Moor

In contrast to our trip to Ellesmere, today we were treated to clear blue skies and bright sunshine. There was a slight breeze which had a chill to it but otherwise, it was perfect boating weather. We set off and maintained a steady two miles an hour. It is not possible to go much faster, due to the shallow depth of this canal.

We passed through Frankton Junction where the Montgomery Canal branches off to the left. It is necessary to book passage through the Frankton locks 24 hours in advance, so we may do this on our return.
      

                                                     Approaching Frankton Junction.

      

                                                          Straight on for Llangollen.

      

                                          Passage onto the Monty requires pre booking.

We may not have time for the Monty on this trip, however there is a breach in the canal, so the last two miles of its six mile length can’t be done due to a stoppage. We have also been warned that the horse flies down the Monty, have fangs and wear hobnail boots. So if we do put it off this year, it is another good reason to come back this way again.

On arrival at Maestermyn boatyard we stopped for services. The pump out was the most expensive we have paid at £18, but needs must. Shortly after departing the boatyard we arrived at the final two locks on the Llangollen. The boat traffic was heavy heading away from Llangollen, so both locks were set in our favour and we whistled through. Unlike the people coming the other way who had been enduring a two hour wait in the queue.
      
                                             Our mooring spot at St. Martin’s Moor.
Our mooring spot is about half a mile above the top lock, so we were soon secured and having lunch. We are still in England but only just. Tomorrow within half an hour of setting off we will have crossed into Wales. The day ended as gloriously as it started with clear skies and the sun setting behind the hills on the horizon.
      

                                                               Sun setting over Wales.

It appears we are in for a similarly fine day tomorrow, which bodes well for our crossing of the famous Pontcysyllte Aquaduct over the river Dee, 126 feet below.
Totals 7 Miles 2 Locks
Running total 335 Miles 161 Locks 12 Tunnels