Saturday, 8 June 2013

Trip to Wales

Wales trip,   Llangollen & Montgomery canals  2013

Here we are again: Carole, Paul, Steve & Freddie the dog, aboard Weston Lady; 2 years older but perhaps not wiser!
We have recovered from our Yorkshire trip in 2011 and made some really good friends, who we are still in contact with.
This year we are off to Wales; our plans were nearly scuppered as a lock near us on the Aylesbury Arm collapsed and was completely in passable!  Aylesbury canal Society and Canal & river Trust (CRT )to the rescue!  They planned and orchestrated The Great Escape! We were craned out, along with  24 other boats and taken on a low loader to Willowbridge marina near Leighton Buzzard.
Once out though, we were  awaiting the safe delivery of grandchild number 6! Everyone well and we have said fond farewells to both our children and grandchildren!!

Boating friends waved us off from Soulbury 3 locks on Sunday May 26, grasping supplies and a box of tricks for those certain emergencies!

We casted off on Monday 27 bathed in sunshine, spirits high! Arrived Woughton on the Green at  lunch time. Washing done, lovely walks and finished off with a Bar B Q! Great day.
6 miles           2 locks

Tues 28th  Day 2
Good job we had sunshine yesterday......rain, rain and more rain! Cruised to Wolverton; visited  Tesco, did some much needed hoovering! Men steered....soaked, arrived Cosgrove 4pm, not happy bunnies!!
8 miles (14 miles)    (2 locks)

Wed 29  Day 3
We all love Cosgrove; tried to make the best of the rain!

Thurs 30th   Day 4
Left Cosgrove 10.45, dry, Captain Carole steered! Arrived Stoke Bruerne 14.30
7 miles  (21 miles)      6 locks  (8 locks)

Fri 31st -June 2nd   Day 5,6 & 7
Dry day & set off for Stoke Bruerne, at 9am entered Blissworth tunnel during passage passed 3 boats, exited 10.30. After passing Gayton junct. &  Bugbrooke we went under Elliots Bridge!. Beautiful scenery, we moored at Weedon, meeting up with old friend called Malcolm! Had fantastic weekend; weather great! washed boat roof, windows & did the brass! Lovely walks & Bbq in evening.
10 miles  (31 miles)   2 locks (8 locks)  1 tunnel

Mon 3rd  Day 8
We left Weedon early in sunshine, each taking turns to steer & doing Buckby locks. Steve took us through Braunston tunnel & Braunston flight. We met a friendly Wyvern hire boat couple; Paul to the rescue at a tricky lock! We left the Grand Union  at Braunston turn, after a visit to Midland Chandlery, and joined the Oxford south canal; very pretty and moored up 4pm.
10 miles (41 miles)  13 locks (21 locks)  1 tunnel (2 tunnels)

Tues 4th-5th  Days 9 & 10
Very warm again & nothing but rolling hills, farms & wild flowers! We turned back onto Grand Union canal at Napton junction; all the locks are now 'sentry type' hydraulic paddles, we have not seen these before; interesting! We did Calcutt & Stockton locks, Freddie became confused; boat or tow path? She settled for a swim! We now have a new sink fitted! But that's another story......! Continue to Leamington Spa & Tesco!  All very tired! Then we had some unexpected visitors....!
16 miles (57miles)  23 locks (36 locks)   (2 tunnels)

Thurs 6th  Day 11
Set off 9am for Hatton flight!23 locks in total, it took us 4hrs! Views are spectacular! sunny & warm, we continued through Shrewley tunnel & moored up in a beautiful spot by an embankment: fantastic!

Fri 7th Day 12
Left our beautiful spot amid warm sunshine, cruised to Kingswood junction to join the Stratford canal at Lapworth link, grounded the boat then immediately faced 19 Lapworth locks! But so beautiful & quaint, absolutely delightful. One hire boat family had a disaster; they dropped a windal into the lock and then could not shut the gate! Everyone helped with poles, hooks etc and soon we were on our way but they were minus a windal! We filled with diesel then moored at Hockley Heath for the weekend; I think we deserve a rest!
5 miles (68 miles) 20 locks (87 locks)  2lift gates  (3 tunnels)

Mon 10  Day 14
Had a restful weekend at Hockley Heath, ate out, weather fair. Headed for Birmingham today; visited a local 'yummy' bread shop near bridge 20; will visit again on our return! Cruised to Kings Norton Junction & joined Worcester & Birmingham canal, passing under a last open guillotine lock. Stopped at Bournville in hope of a visit to Cadburys but we were too late, will definately arrange it for our return.. Moored at Gas Street Basin, Birmingham about 4pm. Exciting & interesting here, a lot of canal history.
15 miles  (83 miles)    (87 locks)  (3 tunnels)

Tues 11  Day 15
We leave Birmingham on BCN Mainline headed for Wolverhampton in the rain! The area is very built up but also derelict in places. Lots of 'loops' & wharfs from bygone industry. Arrived at top of Wolverton 21 lock flight about 3pm.
13 miles (96 miles)  3 locks (90 locks)  (3 tunnels)

Wed 12 Day 16
Left early, 8 am to start the descent of Wolverhampton 21 locks down to Aldersley. Slow going, single locks, with a chap single handed in front! Finished 12.30 and turned quickly onto Staffs & Worcs canal and then almost immediately onto the Shropshire at Autherely junction. The Shroppie holds some surprises for us: one village & lock was bombed in WW11 and a 'rookie' RAF chap lost his life by crashing into a hill. Further on there is a Nuclear bunker!Tight turn, used the services, & visited Morrisons! Continued to recomended moorings at Brewood, then the rain started! Canal narrow in places, overgrown & wild. We were very tired when we moored up 4.30pm!
8 miles (104 miles)  22 locks (112 locks) (3 tunnels)

Thurs 13  Day 17
Left late at 11am. still bit tired! Some sun. some heavy rain! More open countryside. less depressing than all the overhung trees. Very heavy rain again. Moored Norbury Junc, at 3.30pm much nicer!
11 miles (115 miles) 1 lock (113 locks)  1 tunnel (4 tunnels)

Decided to stay at Norbury Junc for the weekend, wanted a nice pub and somewhere to eat for our 38th wedding anniversary on Fri 14th! Had a good weekend but an unwelcomed surprise: doing some general maintenence & inspection under back deck revealed a dangerously perished alternator cable. Guess how Father's Day was spent! Luckily we were moored right opposite the boat yard!

Mon 17  Day 21
After an eventful weekend we left at 8am heading for Market Drayton. Drizzly day through cuttings, we passed Knighton where an old Cadbury wharf was! Goldstone had really lovely moorings  and through Woodseaves the cut was so deep/pure rock face and there was a really high bridge. Tyrley 5 locks were really pretty and we moored up after aqueduct near to Market Drayton at lunch time. we had a mooch around the town.
10 miles  ( 112 miles)   5 locks (118 locks)   (4 tunnels)

Tues 18   Day 22
Left Market Drayton through Adderley 5 locks really pretty then before we know it Audlem 15 locks! Such pretty countryside, we saw an eel in one lock!, families of Canadian geese & swans! At some of the locks there were stalls selling home grown produce etc; really picturesque, of course the weather helps, it's really hot! We moored up almost immediately after the locks at Audlem and had a mooch!
7 miles  (119 miles)  15 locks (133 locks)  (4 tunnels)

Wed 19  Day 23
Had lie in & left late! Warm & sunny again enjoying our trip until a speed freak tried to over take us; he was very close behind & in the end went off & annoyed other boaters. What is the point?! Went through Hack Green 2 locks where there is apparently a secret Nuclear bunker! Green & pleasant fields & cattle all around! Moored at Nantwich 11am after short cruise will explore the town & shops for supplies! Very hot again!
5.5 miles (124 miles)  2 locks (135 locks)  (4 tunnels)

Thurs 20  Day 24
Set off early 7am to services and to beat the rush at Harleston locks where we join the Llangollen and immediately 4 locks! It's raining, but very pretty and a couple of flights of locks. We had just navigated Baddiley locks and thinking perhaps the rain was stopping when disaster struck! We saw steam coming from the airing cupboard and at the same time I called out that there was no water in the taps! You guessed, split hot water tank and the water was collecting at the bottom of the boat under our floor! Don't panic! We stopped and assessed the situation: priority is to turn off water and stay cool! Tool box out: isolate engine, disconnect this & that and feel grateful we are only 2 miles from a boat yard at Wrenbury! Tired, hungry & dirty with no water on board: lovely! We stayed put overnight after contacting boat yard and organised to meet them and order bits tomorrow......we didn't talk cost at this point...! but decided to get said tank out of it's hole!
6 miles (131 miles)  9 locks (144 locks)  (4 tunnels)

Fri 21st  Day 25
Left early to get to Wrenbury boat yard: everyone so helpful and kind. Think we can get all the bits we need; but of course tank different so need different connectors, pipes etc and so it went on!
We were going to stop over the weekend but we had planned to rest and look around, not be working, changing tanks stuck in holes! To help us cope Jason, Gabbi, Santi and valentina came to visit and cheer us up! It was a good weekend!! The weather was fine but quite windy and we did get hit by a hire boat in charge of a German tourist!!!

Mon 24th  Day 28
Tank sorted but we are not: washing machine & drawers out & in a pickle: checking for leaks! Less windy and we set off through beautiful countryside towards Grindley locks, 3 in a staircase then 3 ordinary ones. A hire boat pulls out without looking and hits us broad side....wait a minute, it's only the same guy from the weekend! We meet some canoeists trying white water rafting down the bywashes! Not too clever! There is a queue at Grindley, but we are met by a friendly lock keeper....not! Nevertheless we spent a nice evening there.
7 miles (138 miles)  10 locks (154 locks) (4 tunnels)

Tues 25th  Day 29
Set of amid glorious sunshine & continue on Llangollen pass Whitchurch & a place called Chemistry! Beautiful scenery all the way to Ellesmere, we passed peat digging areas and 'mere's' which are lakes formed by the ice age and now a wild life haven; beautiful! We had to go through 'Miss Each bridge' which we did not miss! On to Ellesmere tunnel, not very long but has a dangerous current! We moored close to Ellesmere basin : fantastic quaint/one off shops as well as Tesco! We also found great walk round a Mere; lovely place, will come here on the way back!
13 miles (144 miles)  (154 locks)  1 tunnel (5 tunnels)

Wed 26 - Thurs 27   Day 30/31
Continue in good weather pass Frankton junc for the Montgomery canal, beautiful scenery continues! Pass New Morton locks where a lady spoke to us who knew ACS! Set off next day feeling a bit tired, doesn't look far to our destination now. Narrow, twisty lengths of the Llangollen leads us to Chirk aqueduct which has a train viaduct as a backdrop; very splendid and a taster of what was to come! Once over Chirk aqueduct we face Chirk tunnel, which again has a strong current from Horseshoe falls. At exit of the tunnel we just missed CRT who were busy clearing a fallen tree from our path! Suddenly we are upon Whitehouse tunnel and  bridge 27 where we almost have a head on with a Trip boat (some of them do think they own their bit of the canal!) We moored up in the rain and then walked over the legendary Pontcysyllte Acqueduct: Wow!! Incredible! Awesome!!
13 miles (157 miles)  2 locks (156 locks) 1 aqueduct  (1 acqeduct)  2 tunnels (7 tunnels)

Fri 28 & Sat 29 Day 32/33
Cooked breakfast to set us up! Through Froncysyllte and lift bridge and suddenly we are approaching Pontcysyllte aqueduct, how majestic 7 breathe taking! Hold onto your hats, here we go! We are so high, almost in the sky! Great views, but oh so narrow! lets get over quick but want to cherish the moment! We moor in Trevor! Jason & crew are coming to walk the acqueduct & have a ride on the boat tomorrow! We all have a great time, the kids loved the ride & we moore a bit under the bridge.
1.5 miles (159 miles)  (156 locks) 1 aqueduct (2 aqueducts) (7 tunnels)

Mon 1st July  Day 35
We leave 8.45 to run the gauntlet down the final, narrow 4 miles of Llangollen to our destination at the basin. Scenery idyllic, very, very narrow with couple of passing places. Paul is on foot as look out for oncoming boats! We got to Llangollen Basin and moored by  11.30. We have made it!!
We explored all afternoon, saw a horse pulled boat, the legendary Horseshoe falls, the Marquee's being put up for world famous Eisteddfod music concert. On Tues we went on Llangollen Steam train to round off our stay here, as we alighted from the train we bumped into friends from ACS!!! We have to leave by 5pm Wed so will have a quiet day. We need to look at the map & replan our route as we have found out Wolverton flight is closed because of lock wall collapse! Sound familiar??!! We have also heard that Aylesbury Arm may not be open until Oct so we may end our trip as we started; by being lifted out & back in!!!!!

Wed July 3   Day 37
Drizzly, cold day; slow cooker on and off we set 3pm, not quite our return journey yet as we are going down the Montgomery, all booked in for Friday 12 midday. We experience all the narrow bits, shallow bits, racing hire boats etc! Back over the Pontcysyllte aquaduct & moore up just pass it. Thurs better weather for cruising to St Morton Mount locks where we moored up for the evening.Friday we set off early in glorious sunshine for the Montgomery. We are met at Frankton junction staircase flight by friendly lock keeper to help prevent any disasters! We moore up in good spot, but bit near the road. Scenery stunning; brilliant. We are finishing our evening meal and a small group appear with a canoe & proceed to have a quick paddle. Everybody gets out & then it appears there is a problem. The man has dropped his car/van keys in the canal! We spring into action with help checking grass banks, sea magnets for dredging & eventually a phone to call out a recovery man!!
3 hours & several cups of tea & counselling later the chap turns up! Another hour later they were eventually able to retrieve the spare keys from the van. We waved them off just in time to have cocoa & bed!! In the morning we were enjoying a lie in when we became aware of splashing, shouting & a lot of hilarity. A sharp knock on the boat brought us to our senses; we were being surrounded by people in canoes who were going to play water polo & we were right in the middle of their 'pitch' with nets hung across the canal with pulley ropes! The chap asked us politely if we could move the boat a few feet, we obliged & settled down to some free entertainment! We went upto services just before Frankton staircase ready for Monday; idyllic, my little corner of heaven!

(256 miles)   (158 locks)  (4 aquaducts)  (9 tunnels)

Mon July 8  Day 42
Extremely hot again as we take short cruise to Ellesmere.We spend 3 dys here to explore the Mere's (lakes), activities, picnics, the town (delicatessen & bakery!) & launderette (mammoth wash!)
3.5 miles (259 miles)  (158 locks)  (4 aqua) (9 tunnels)

Thurs July 11  Day 45 _Sun 14th Day 48
Set off early before it's too hot heading for Grindley locks, we actually do meet the friendly lock keeper this time! We take short walk up Whitchurch arm. We navigate Grindley locks and continue to Wrenbury; memories of changing the burst hot water tank!! Spent the weekend here; lovely village but a few odd characters! Scarecrow weekend! We cleaned the brass too!


18 miles (274 miles)  10 locks (168 locks) ( 4 aqua) 1 tunnel (10 tunnels)

Mon  July 15 - Fri July 19  Day 49-53
Left Wrenbury really early to beat traffic. Hot & sunny but still busy through Baddiley, Swanley & Hurleston locks. Sadly we leave the Llangollen canal & join Shropshire canal again but stay nearby for few days. Wednesday we leave & go through Nantwich to Hack Green locks; I thought it would be good to visit the nearby de-commissioned Secret Nuclear Bunker: big mistake! Very realistic with some original equipment/documentation/security films, I found it very chilling & uncomfortable.  To cheer up we continued to Audlem locks & village & moored up for few days ready to do the flight of 15 locks on Thursday at 7am to beat traffic & heat!! Friday we went through Adderley locks & continued to Market Drayton for the weekend.


17 miles (291 miles)   26 locks  (194 locks)  1 aqua  (5aqua)   (10 tunnels)

Mon July 22  Day 54 - Sun July 28 Day 59
Left Market Drayton to do Tyreley locks, misty, murky morning, all going well until we met a working boat who said one of the lock paddles broken & waiting for CRT! Minimal delay & team in wet suits turned up! Through Woodseaves cutting & moored at Goldstone: very pretty. Onto Norbury junction for a good rest!
11 miles (304 miles) 5 locks (200 locks) (5 acqua) (10 tunnels)

Mon July 29 - Sun Aug 11th  Day 60-74
Leave Norbury much rejuvinated, navigate a fallen tree in the cut & stay at Gnosall for couple of days; lovely village with good amenities & services. Thursday Aug 1st we leave for Wheaton Aston, lovely weather again. Grass cutters! Found a Spar shop; very hot & their fridges a bit suspect: chicken smelt off!!! Nevertheless pretty village! Tues we continued onto Autherley junc, this marks the end of Shropshire canal and the time to decide our fate concerning Wolverhamptonflight!! After much discussion & to stop crew descending into mutiny we head to Great Haywood via Staffs & Worcs North instead of going my chosen route: Staffs & Worcs South & rejoining Birmingham Main line via Netherton tunnel. I'm not upset! I just wanted to go home different route; I don't mind missing Bournville & lovely bakers/deli at Hockley Heath!! In fact it will/should be easier; less locks & Shugborough is beautiful! We navigate fallen trees, narrow windy bits, pass chemical plant & encounter terrible gnats & awful bites!! On Thurs we cruised to Penkridge,a delightful village & explored town, fishing shop & local bakers! The lock (10 3/4, Harry Potter!) gave a really weird illusion! We stay there several days, & decided to arrive at Shugborough on Sunday, this is where I bought my cabin crotchet! We arrived amid busy classic car weekend; the men where in their element, me & Freddie explored the R. Trent walks & views then finished it off with canalside cafe cream tea!
30 miles (334 miles)  8 locks (208 locks)  (5 aqua) (10 tunnels)


Mon 12 Aug  -Fri 16  Day 75-79

We left Great Haywood really early & I did a lot of the steering, I haven't lost my touch! lovely scenery & onto Armitage  (famous for toilets!) & its tunnel, the one with no roof now! I tried a bit of rock face climbing! I took us through the tunnel on Tues & we continued to Fradley junc to join the Coventry canal.We had such a surprise when we met friends, Annie & Ray, from Cowroast! We found a lovely, pretty nature reservs at Fradley in the evening. Wed we started off early to Hopwas,joining the Birmingham & Fazeley canal briefly, through the wooded disused MOD firing range.......! Managed to catch up with some washing.On Thurs we arrived Fazeley junc for services & shopping then joined Coventry canal.heading through Glascote locks, waved at Tamora ( Ian & Maureen) in Hudson's Marina & moored further on near Alvecote & Samuel Barlows! Will spend few days here resting, walking & re visiting old coal mine/faces. On our way up Atherstone flight we had 2 memorable incidents: our first experience of canal rage, shameful they were old enough to know better; secondly we saw Phyllis May 11 and Terry Darlington from 'Narrow Dog to Carcassone' fame!!!
27 1/2 miles (372 miles) 4 locks (221 locks)  (5 aqua) 1 tunnel (11 tunnel)

Sun 18 Aug - Fri 23 Aug  Day 81- 85
An early start again, worth it really!, onto Springwood Haven to get topped up with diesel, cratch cover elastics, stove paint etc! Monday we cruised pass Nuneaton, munching our bacon rolls and arrived Hawkesbury Junc amid sunshine again; we are so lucky with the weather. We passed Bedworth, where we saw some amusing village people & a moving obstacle! Another friend, Independence, from Cowroast cruised pass & we have seen lots of enthusiastic CRT volunteers! We moored up in the afternoon at Weedon on Thurs and started really early Fri to get through Blissworth tunnel & go through 2 Stoke Bruerne locks. Many new CRT signs in evidence; £25 fine for overstay at 2 & 7 day mooring zones!
58 miles (430 miles) 29 locks (237 locks)  (7 aqua)  1 tunnel  (14 tunnels)

Sun Aug 25  - Sat Aug 31  Day 87-93
We had to leave our 48hr mooring zone and move to the bottom of Stoke Bruerne to another zone! Lovely area for walks: Paul, me & Freddie went through a few fields & got trapped by some marauding, nosey young bullocks! We ended up hiding behind fences & hedges & making a quick escape when the coast was clear! Marji & Steve came to visit & have lunch at nearby pub; great tosee them both. Tues we had to move onto Cosgrove; a real favourite of ours! We went & enquired about caravans!!! We had a lovely surprise, (cooked up by Steve & Lindsey) when Summayyah & Lindsey turned up bearing home grown & homemade rhubarb crumble! Delicious!! We haven't seen them for almost 4 mths: lots to chat about! We left on Thurs, after cleaning up a leaking paint pot in gas locker!, & cruised over Ouse aqueduct, onto Tesco at Wolverton but decided to carry onto Linford Park at Milton Keynes.Great moorings for Freddie. Friday we continues to Woughton on the Green,another favourite! More blackberries & apples for pies/crumbles! Sat we passed Fenny Stratford and onto Willowbridge marina: our final destination, for now. The lock at Redhouse is not repaired yet, so we have to wait to be lifted out, transported to the new Circus Basin at Aylesbury & put back in so we can make our way back to Redhouse, but, another lock needs repairs so we still cannot get home..........! Nevermind, we will enjoy catching up with old friends at Aylesbury!

20 miles  7 locks 1 aquaduct

Anyway, the Welsh trip is over; it's been great , with a few interesting moments!! The grand totals are:

450 miles  245 locks   8 aquaducts  12 tunnels!!