Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Ellesmere to Trevor

Wednesday 23rd July

Ellesmere to Hindford

We set off from Ellesmere just as a hire boat was looking for somewhere to moor.  Turning round there is tricky, as the basin isn’t square – the widest point is at the very end. The hire boat did it first, with quite a few changes of gear. We went next, but were helped by the bow thruster. They call it the girlie button in Birmingham.

Leaving Ellesmere

The first stop was the facilities area, where there was no queue. However, very soon there were other boats waiting.

James phoned Paul Dicken to make arrangements for tomorrow.  The Poachers Pocket at Gledhill seems a good starting point, with lunch there, followed by a trip over Chirk Aqueduct and through Chirk Tunnel before turning round and heading back to the pub again.

We passed Tetchill where there are a few moored boats. This is the stop off place for Roger and Mirjana.

Several mooring places along here with 48H rings, courtesy of the Shropshire Union Canal Society.  Every canal ought to have a canal society like this to enhance the boating experience.

We passed the turning to Frankton Locks and the Montgomery Canal. We’ll do it on the way back.

Frankton Junction

It was very hot, and we stopped for lunch between Bridges 3 and 4, as the towpath was south of the canal, which means that it is easier to find shade, which we did.

A little further along we spotted a familiar looking boat, called Kiska II.  It was our first boat, then called Lystra.  The owners weren’t around.

At Maestermyn Marine we stopped to buy some long screws to fix one of our back steps which has come unglued. We also saw a life ring which we bought.

We stopped for the day at Hindford to visit the Jack Mytton Pub for a drink, as it was so hot. They were just about to close. They had Black Dragon Welsh cider, which was good. They also had another which James said he would go back for in the evening.  In the end, we had showers on the boat and never went back to the pub.

We briefly saw the people on Stepaside (BCF – Sue Barnett), and then we had a chat with the people on Plan B – Malcolm and Lindsey

Then Barley Twist (Terry and Chris) came past, followed by Mick and Suzanne on Cranley, both from Byfleet Boat Club.  It was good to have a brief chat with them.

Mick and Suzanne

0 locks, 6 miles, 3hr35

Thursday 24th July

Hindford to Trevor

Two boats left before us, heading our way.  We followed slowly behind, as the first item on the agenda was the pair of locks at New Marton – very rural.  Another boat was coming down, so the first lock was set for us.

New Marton Locks

It was not long before we had arrived at the Poachers Pocket, our rendezvous with the Dickens.  Then we had a phone call from Christine Dicken, saying they had too much to do before their trip to Yorkshire at the weekend. Could we postpone the trip? No problem. We’re flexible.

We decided to move on. We pulled out, following Sam Hardy, and were soon at Chirk Aqueduct, which is dramatic, with a railway viaduct on the left, and views down the valley to the right.

Chirk Aqueduct

 The view through the railway viaduct

The aqueduct leads directly into Chirk Tunnel, and there is a waiting area with bollards, as both the tunnel and the aqueduct are only one boat width. Amazingly, the First Mate Guide suggests mooring here to go to the shops. Anyone doing that would not be very popular with boaters trying to negotiate their passage.

Chirk Aqueduct and tunnel

As we arrived at the far end of the aqueduct, there was a boat waiting to cross the other way, and Sam Hardy waiting to enter the tunnel, as a boat was coming through the other way.  The boat in the tunnel turned out to be a hire boat travelling very fast. He shot out of the tunnel, and did a tight zig zag to line up with the aqueduct, where we were just emerging. We had nowhere else to go, and his passengers in the bows put their hands over their eyes, waiting for the bump. Thankfully our bow thruster moved us out of the way just in time as he shot into the aqueduct, taking no notice of the other boat who had been waiting for ten minutes.  We told him he had lost his water skier.

We entered the tunnel and found it very slow going, as the flow was against us. After the tunnel came a cutting with gloomy moorings, then Chirk Marina, followed by
Whitehouse Tunnel.

Whitehouse Tunnel

At Froncysyllte we had to operate Fron Lift Bridge which was quite heavy work. Then round the corner to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  We spotted Peter and Lin walking towards us so there were lots of photos, videos, hugs, and changes at the helm.  The aqueduct seemed higher than last time – perhaps because it was clear and sunny, instead of misty and wet last time (2004). It was exhilarating to go across on the boat with nothing between us and the sheer drop to the left. This aqueduct is iron, unlike Chirk which is made of stone.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

It’s a long way down

We were still following Sam Hardy, and instead of turning left towards Llangollen, he went straight on to the moorings beyond Anglo Welsh at Trevor. This is where Gospel Belle and Trinity had been moored, waiting for us.  As Sam Hardy had taken the last space, we moored alongside Gospel Belle. 

A trip boat then decided to turn and banged into the side of Sam Hardy several times in the process,and told him he was moored in a winding hole. There was no notice to say so. Everyone moved up and then someone else moored there.  Over the next few days several boats stopped there, so there really should be a notice.

We had a barbecue later, as there was a very suitable wide grassy bank under trees alongside the mooring. A great time.  Pete and Aud (Sam Hardy) joined us for drinks later.

There were lots of people walking past and we had several conversations.

Barbecue at Trevor

2 locks, 9 miles, 2 tunnels, 2 aqueducts, 1 lift bridge, 1 mouse, 4hr35.

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