Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Llangollen to Ellesmere

Wednesday 30th July

Llangollen to Llanddyn

We left mid-morning after several boats had arrived in the basin, and some had gone already.  We managed to find a mooring further down where we could fill up with water again.  Hazel went shopping while James completed the water filling and emptied the cassette. 

Received a voicemail a day old from Paul Dicken suggesting getting together tomorrow (i.e. today) or Friday. Phoned him and agreed Friday, when we should be at Trevor.

James went to find Hazel in the town, and completely missed her. There was no phone signal, so he walked back up to the boat again, finally spotting her way down below on the bridge. He went back down to help her with the shopping. She had been in a shop she said she wasn’t going to visit.

View from the bridge in Llangollen. Corn Mill restaurant on left

Leaving Llangollen

Silly sign

When we finally set off, there was a queue of boats waiting for the narrow section. We could not get into the side, so we had to move a hire boat along one ring so that we could fit into a gap.  Eventually the boats coming up finished, and we set off, number three in at least seven.

Narrow rocky section

We arrived at the good moorings we had seen at around bridge 44, and we stopped to let the convoy go past.

There was a great view of Eglwyseg Rocks. Hugo was happily off somewhere under the trees.

Bridge 44 and Eglwyseg Rocks

James had a chat with Leigh on Bob, who had two dogs and a 19-year-old cockatoo, which was on the towpath on a lead.  Husband John was resting, as he is not well.

0 locks, 1 mile, 1hr15

Thursday 31st July

Llanddyn to Trevor

Cloudy today for a change.  We had heard several tawny owls in the night and seen one flying overhead.

Two or three boats went past in each direction.  When we set off we got through the narrow section with no waiting.  We noticed several large bushes of Japanese Knotweed between bridges 41 and 42. Must report it to CRT. 

Japanese Knotweed
No difficulties all the way down to Trevor, where we managed to reverse into the furthest mooring in the side arm.

Quite a good signal there, so we sent joining instructions to Paul for tomorrow’s jaunt.

Had a good chat with the guy on Henry. They are staying here for a few days, running around with doctor’s appointments etc.

Trevor Basin

0 locks, 3 miles, 1hr35

Friday 1st August

Trevor to Chirk and back to Trevor

James went to the shop to buy some milk, while Hazel chased Hugo around with the vacuum cleaner. Hugo was not allowed out in case he was still absent when we wanted to set off.

Paul and Christine arrived at around 1pm, having driven from Caernarfon. We went to the Telford Arms for lunch.  A fairly limited menu, but the food was OK.

We then went on our cruise, across the aqueduct and down to Chirk. First we had to wait twenty minutes while boats were coming the other way. Then we were following a hire boat that had just set out from Trevor.  It was young lads on board, and they had music going, and were jigging around on the back deck while they were steering.

Paul and Christine Dicken

Boating in the sky

 There was another boat following us, and we managed to get away without operating the lift bridge at Froncysyllte. The first boat opened it, and the last boat closed it.

Our canopy was up and down as there was rain around and also low bridges and tunnels.  Both the other two boats went into Chirk Marina, so we continued on to the winding hole, where we turned round and followed another boat back.  They operated the lift bridge, and although we were prepared to close it they waved us through.

Thankfully, back at Trevor, our mooring was still available, so we had tea and bara brith, before Paul and Christine had to depart for the long drive back to Caernarfon. It had been great to see them again, after a number of years since the last time.

Farewell to Paul and Christine

Hugo was a bit confused, as we were moored in the same place, but facing the other way, and several times he tried to come in the front doors instead of the stern.

0 locks, 6 miles, 2 lift bridges, 2 aqueducts, 3hr00

Saturday 2nd August

Trevor to Chirk Bank

It was raining quite hard at times in the night, and most of the morning. Around lunchtime it brightened up, so we set off once more over the aqueduct (our eighth crossing since we started boating).

Across again

We operated the lift bridge ourselves for a change, and had a very clear run.  We had to wait for a boat at Whitehouse Tunnel, and again at Crick Tunnel.  At the passing place between the tunnel and the aqueduct there were boats all over the place waiting for the tunnel as we emerged. There was also a hire boat moored on the waiting bollards, having lunch.  There was no queue for the aqueduct, so we went straight across.

From Tunnel to Aqueduct at Crick

Crick aqueduct

We moored on rings just round the corner, at Chirk Bank.  James went for a walk back across the aqueduct and into Chirk.  The hire boat was still there, with no one aboard.  There were no notices about mooring there, but there really should be. These bollards should be only for those waiting for the aqueduct or the tunnel, a bit like lock bollards.

James visited the shops, and bought a few bits. He went into the Anglican church and signed the visitor’s book. He missed another heavy shower by doing so.

Back at the boat there was no signal for TV, internet, or phone. 

We both have chesty colds, so we didn’t fancy cooking. We wandered down the hill to the Bridge Inn for a meal.  Strongbow cider was the best they could offer, but the chicken curry was good.

0 locks, 4 miles, 1 lift bridge, 2 aqueducts, 2hr10

Sunday 3rd August

Chirk Bank to Chirk Bank via Maestermyn Marine

Sunny but windy today.  We decided not to visit a church this morning as we both have sore throats and colds and didn’t want to pass it on.

Roger and Mirjana had also encouraged us to go to a folk evening in Ellesmere, but we were not up to singing.

When we got up we found Hugo was on the seat in the stern instead of his usual place on the dinette.  There was evidence of a mouse on the floor.

We set off at 1120, and Hugo appeared in the stern soon after, just as we were passing under bridge 21. Then Hazel came up to join James, and Hugo went down inside.

When we had gone another half mile, near the Poachers Pocket, Hazel went inside for something, and returned saying she couldn’t see Hugo anywhere.  James went for a search and also couldn’t find him.  We thought he had probably found a new place to hide and would appear later.

Two miles further on, by New Marton Locks, we stopped for water. While the tank was filling, we searched the boat.  Inside the airing cupboard, under the bed, in the wardrobe, behind James’ laptop, and everywhere else we could think of.

The front doors were closed but not locked, and we wondered if he had managed to push the doors open and jump off somewhere, but we thought we would have seen him do so.

After another search we decided we would have to go back for him, but there was nowhere to turn.  We had to go on down two locks, and we gave post it notes to people coming up the locks on boats.  We stopped at the Jack Mytton Pub for lunch, where we managed to retrieve James’s key, left here last time. We also tried their Leg Lifter Cloudy Cider – very nice.  Not sure if it’s any better than the Black Dragon we had earlier.  We’ll have to try some of each next time to decide!

After lunch we had to move further down before we could turn, and we also needed to empty three cassettes. We thought we needed to be prepared to be searching for our moggy for a day or two.  The only place we could do this was Maestermyn Marine, so we stopped there and did the necessary. Thankfully we managed to turn there as well, although it is not an official winding hole.

Two boats went past up stream while we turned, and we followed them all the way back past the Jack Mytton pub to the two Marton Locks.  Here there were three other boats waiting, and a strong cross wind was sending boats over the other side of the canal where they had difficulty getting off again. There was a herd of cows in the field and they came running to see what was happening. They must be short of entertainment.  It took us an hour and a half to get through the two locks. 

There were no moorings available at the Poachers Pocket, and from there onwards we were calling his name at every bridge where he might have got off.  At Chirk Bank there was one mooring space, so we decided to go for it.  There were houses on a slight ridge opposite, with gardens on a slope down to the canal.  James was calling out “Hugo” and banging his dish, and one boat length further on we spotted him, sitting by the edge of the canal, miaowing at us.  We swiftly cast off again and took the boat across, and he jumped into the bows!  This was now eight hours later.

We moored up back in the only space, and within a few minutes he was asking to go out again!  A firm “no” was the response.

We think we must have had to pull over to the right to let another boat pass, and we were concentrating on the other boat, and did not see Hugo disappear in the bushes.  When he came up on deck as we set off, we think he wanted to relieve himself. He is not keen on using his litter tray, and he must have gone through to the bows, found the door on the push and jumped off.  The door closed again behind him as we have a slight list, so we didn’t realise he had been able to get out.

Where we found Hugo, on the right. Our mooring on the left

So we had a long anxious day, and he had a long pee break.  He was very hungry when we got him back.

4 locks, 12 miles, 1 mouse, 1 lost cat, 1 found cat, 7hr05. A long day for us.

Monday 4th August

Chirk Bank to Tetchill

After ensuring Hugo was on board, and checking that the front door was closed, we set off for Chirk Aqueduct, where we had to wait for one boat coming the other way. We turned round in the winding hole and came straight back again, after a following boat had also crossed. A glorious sunny day.

Crick aqueduct again

Wheat getting ripe

Encouraging sign

One or two boaters, who we had seen yesterday, asked about our cat and we were able to tell them we had found him.

At Marton Locks there was a queue of four boats.  Some were from Lymm Cruising Club.

We managed to pass the Jack Mytton without stopping to test their ciders again. Just before bridge 4W we hit something under the water that felt like a submerged rock, right in the centre of the channel.

We passed Frankton Junction and stopped for the day just past bridge 63 and had a late lunch sitting under a tree in the shade.  Later we walked up the farm track from the bridge and found Roger and Mirjana in their cottage in Tetchill. They showed us round and we had tea with them, and collected our mail that Maggie had sent.  They came back to the boat with us and we made sure Hugo was kept separate from their dog Biggles.

Biggles having a swim

Hazel used a long extending pole we had bought in Wrexham to mount the TV aerial, and we watched “Die another Day”

Hugo was happy in the hedge and the field beyond.

2 locks, 9 miles, 4hr35

Tuesday 5th August

Tetchill to Ellesmere

The forecast was wet from lunchtime onwards, so we went into Ellesmere fairly early, passing Gospel Belle, moored up for two weeks while Peter and Lin go to Devon.  We also saw Mirjana and Biggles out for the morning walk.

We paused at the facilities block on the way past. Whilst there we booked our passage down the Frankton Locks for Thursday, as Wednesday is forecast wet. We managed to find a mooring a short way down the Ellesmere Arm, where Hugo had some bushes to explore.  He soon caught a mouse. 

The boat behind us was called Pearl, with Brian and Leslie, and we had met them last year on the Avon, and also in 2009 on the Lancaster Canal. They were one of the boats on the notorious crossing of the Ribble, when we got stuck and had to call out the RNLI.  Pearl is also part of the 20-strong flotilla from Lymm Cruising Club.

We went for a circular walk to see the Mere, passing through a nature reserve wood on the way.  We returned through the town, nosing around charity shops and antique shops as we went.  Lamb mince and eggs from the butcher, cheese from the delicatessen, and everything else from the new Tesco.

Back on board for bara brith, ginger cake and zzzzzzzz.

Tomorrow’s rain came early, and the forecast for tomorrow is now fine, so we plan to change our booking for the Montgomery Canal to tomorrow if we can.

0 locks, 2 miles, 1 mouse, 0hr55

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