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

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