Hack Green Locks

Yesterday evening we were too tired to blog, following an unexpected eleven hour day. We started at 8 am and quickly navigated the two locks at Swanley, before arriving at Swanley Bridge Marina to use their services. We had a short wait here on the outside services berth, waiting for a boat to unload, presumably at the end of their holiday. So following a pump out, and taking on gas and water we were off again. Arriving at Hurleston locks, we did not have to wait as we descended towards the junction with the Shropshire Union. By 1130 we had left the Llangollen Canal behind and were on our way to Aquaduct Marina. So far we were making good time. We only had two locks on the Middlewich Branch to navigate, but this is where we hit the queues. It was over an hour wait at each before we were through. Aquaduct Marina was only a short distance further on, and we occupied the fuel berth whilst we spent lots of money in the chandlers. However I now have enough oil for the next two engine services. We took the opportunity of using the Bistro for a late lunch, before departing again on a return route towards Barbridge. The queues at the locks for the return journey were not as bad but we still had a bit of a wait. To be fair this is the first time we have encountered longish queues so we are not doing too badly. We had not intended to travel that far, but we ended the day moored opposite  the Barbridge Inn. 

Today the weather was sunny from the start, two sunny days on the trot, it must be summer. After breakfast we set off heading for Nantwich. Our reason for returning to our winter mooring on this route is so we can explore a few of the locations we missed on the way, and nothing to do with avoiding Heartbreak Hill on the Trent and Mersey  🙂 
On arrival at Nantwich we saw Barolo No.3 a fellow Hudson Boat on the water point, and then within a short time nb Poppy, nb Eleanor and nb Brigand all Hudsons came past. It nearly had the makings of a Hudson convention. Nantwich is a pleasant market town with many old timber buildings, similar to Chester. In the square there was a craft market, and after perusing the stalls we attended the Red Cow P.H. for lunch. This was conveniently located next to an M&S food hall, so we popped in to stock up. Returning to the boat we again set off with the aim of reaching the moorings at Coole Pilate. We had two locks to deal with at Hack Green, luckily both were in our favour.
       

       

As we passed through the top lock the crew asked an oncoming boat what the mooring was like at Coole Pilate. The answer was, “busy”. On hearing this we nipped into a spot just above the locks and this will do us now till Monday. Later neighbours of ours on return from walking their dog informed us that the mooring at Coole Pilate was like Butlins so we are happy we stopped when we did.
      

Tomorrow in addition to our usual activities we also have an engine service to perform, so our Sunday roast may have to be postponed till Monday or Tuesday.
      

                                       With an evening view like this we may stay longer.

Friday totals 11 Miles 10 Locks 
Saturday totals 6 Miles 2 Locks
Running totals 405 Miles 188 Locks 17 Tunnels

Wrenbury

Soon after leaving Barbridge we were turning right at Hurleston Junction, to join the Llangollen Canal, and entering the bottom lock. There were warning notices informing boats to remove fenders, once in the lock it was clear why. I doubt if we had more than one inch clearance on either side in places. This was not the only issue we had with this flight of four locks. The pounds between the locks were very low, and on a couple of the locks we had trouble getting over the bottom cill. Still, once we reached the top we had good views back over the Cheshire countryside.

       

We had five more locks to go before arriving at our destination, two at Swanley and three at Baddiley. We have also experienced the effect of the flow of water on this canal. As we pass through the bridges where the gap narrows we are slowed to an almost complete stop. The Llangollen is fed by water from the river Dee, which in turn supplies the Hurleston reservoir and the Shropshire Union. Just before Wrenbury we encountered our first manual lift bridge, of which there are many on the Llangollen. These require the use of the windlass to raise and lower them.
      

Just after this bridge we stopped on the 48 hr moorings adjacent to a caravan holiday park. Not our usual type of spot, but well placed for Sunday lunch and the services at the boatyard ahead. Exploring the village there are two pubs, The Cotton Arms, and The Dusty Miller. Both are dog friendly but the Dusty Miller won the vote for our Sunday lunch. The boatyard also has a chandlers and I was able to purchase a much sought after HEP2O key, so now I should be able to manage any leaks we may get in the future.
     

                                                            Our spot at Wrenbury.

We will stay put till Monday then set off for Whitchurch. We don’t plan to head too far towards Llangollen this week as it is the Eisteddfod and likely to be very busy.
Totals 7 Miles 9 Locks
Running totals 308 Miles 149 Locks 11 Tunnels

Hurleston Junction Update

Today we walked to the junction and then left up the lock flight onto the Llangollen Canal. We wandered on for about a mile before returning. On the way back we took a short detour along the A51 to visit Snugbury’s Ice Cream Parlour. They have an endless list of flavours to choose from. The only thing missing was the sunshine.

       
Just two more days and summer will be over, the sun heading south, and winter on its way back. The furry crew member complained last time that he only got the dregs of the ice cream, so this time he got his own pot.
      

Still planning to move one mile tomorrow, nearer to Barbridge Junction and our Sunday lunch venue.

Hurleston Junction

Conditions this morning were somewhat blustery as we departed Coole Pilate. On arrival at Hack Green Locks we found a short queue going both ways. Whilst waiting I read the information board at the locks, to find that Hack Green played an important role during the Second World War, as a radar station providing protection for the docks at Liverpool. We forget how far north we have come, and that Liverpool is not that far away. We descended through the pair of locks without incident. That’s it for the easy narrow locks for a while, it’s the heavy wide ones from now on. A couple of miles later we arrived at Nantwich. There is a small but bustling basin, with full services. We took on a tank full of water and visited the waterside cafe. We did not visit Nantwich town this time, we will save it for another day. Two more miles and we reached our destination, Hurleston Junction. This is were the Llangollen Canal departs from the Shropshire Union heading off towards Wales. Our intention is to do this trip when we have finished in Chester and Ellesmere Port.

       

                                                          Hurleston Junction.

       

                                                   Straight on for us to Chester. (this time)

After securing the boat we walked ahead towards Barbridge Junction a mile and a half away. There are a couple of pubs here, and we wanted to check out a possible Sunday lunch venue. Ye Olde Barbridge Inn has got our vote. We will probably move forward nearer to this on Saturday.
     

                                      Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

Barbridge Junction is where the Shropshire Union links up with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Middlewich. This will be our route back when we start to head south again for the winter. There is a canal and music festival at Middlewich this weekend, which may explain the heavy traffic over the last couple of days.
Returning to the boat the weather has warmed up making for a pleasant evening, although the wind is still gusting quite strongly.
      

                          Our spot at Hurleston Junction, with Oscar enjoying some playtime.

Totals 6 Miles 2 Locks
Running total 275 Miles 128 Locks 11 Tunnels