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