Saturday, May 26, 2007

Down The Montgomery Canal

I spent a few days in Newport this week visiting my dad and my girls. Eric said Ben was not keen to leave the bus stop, he was waiting for me to come back. I also managed to fit in a visit to Wendy and of course we had cream cakes and a nice chat catching up on all the news ! The journey home was scenic - I also love to see the Shropshire hills and then the hills of Wales. I was welcomed back to Ellesmere by lots of licks and tail wagging from Ben. Eric was pleased to see me too! Near where the boat was moored we could strange bird calls, we looked up and were amazed to see our first red kite. I know Shropshire is supposed to be the home of the red kite but we had never seen one until now.

After filling up the water tank and emptying the cassettes we decided to move to Frankton Junction to await our passage through the locks down the Montgomery Canal. We thought it would be a quieter place to spend the Bank Holiday weekend. The canal is very peaceful and beautiful and the photo shows the view outside the side hatch. Mooring is difficult as the banks in a lot of places are very wild and overgrown, but we found some armco hidden under the greenery so at least we could moor securely. It's lovely being able to explore different parts of the canal system at our leisure!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Llangollen-We Made It!

After a week at Ellesmere we decided to turn around and head for Wales. Perhaps this time we'd actually get there. Our first trip to Llangollen, about 15 years ago was a bit of a disastrous holiday. Firstly Eric ended up in Wrexham hospital after getting a severe infection in his leg which caused a huge lump in his groin. Secondly our pet dog Tigger fell overboard and Clare rescued him but was badly stung with nettles. This time as we crossed Chirk aqueduct Ben decided to jump ship to go for a wee! Luckily he made it without being squashed but as we crossed Pontscyllte he was shut in the boat for safety.

The view over the aqueducts was amazing and as we crossed Eric reminded me he didn't like heights. We remembered the time he was stuck on the house roof while replacing a chimney pot.The scenery got even better as we approached Llangollen and the smell of the wild garlic was strong too. We paid our £10 fee (including electric) for 48 hour mooring and caught up with the washing as we had our own mains electric and water tap. The satellite TV even worked , the gap in the trees must have been in just the right place!

We enjoyed our stay in Llangollen, we left Ben alone ( in his puppy pen) on the boat for a hour while we looked around the little shops. In the evening we walked to see the Horseshoe Falls and the placed where the water is taken from the River Dee to feed the canal about 4 miles. Ben really enjoyed his walk even though it rained heavily and he got very wet. We were ready for a cup of tea and a rest but he was still lively as ever.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Brief Visit To Wales

We left Ellesmere and headed towards Frankton Junction for an overnight stop. I wanted to revisit the place we had walked years ago when the Montgomery Canal was derelict other than the staircase locks at the junction. It was a joy to see they have opened seven miles from Frankton Locks down to Gronwen Wharf and such a quiet, peaceful canal as the locks are opened only two hours a day (booked in advance). Ben enjoyed his walk but a cow mooed and he was quite surprised. He's also unsure of horses and rushes past them!
After a quiet night in the countryside we headed off to visit Chirk, the aqueduct is the border between England and Wales. The Llangollen Canal became increasingly narrow and shallow and places to moor were few and far between. We moored at the visitor moorings before the tunnel and everytime a boat went past the boat banged against the armco as they were speedy boaters! Needless to say at seven in the morning we were woken up by an earlybird- why can't they sleep! It had also got very busy considering it's May, so we went over the aqueduct, through Chirk Tunnel and turned around at the turning circle and started back to Ellesmere.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Llangollen Trip

This is Ben posing for a photo at Hurleston Locks after he watched how to do the locks! We stopped to fill up with water and do the cassettes then off we went on our travels. In all we did nine locks and several lift bridges before we stopped near Wrenbury to walk across the field and through the churchyard to get some bread and milk. The weather has been glorious and we have had to smother exposed skin in factor 30 sunscreen as it's so easy to burn when you are outside all day. We are all covered up not like the holidaymakers in their shorts and tops.
We spent a quiet night before setting off again through six locks to stop at Whitchurch. The staircase locks at Grindley Brook was a new experience but the lock keeper was there making sure the water levels were OK. We moored on the Whitchurch Arm and waited for the evening to set off along the footpath for about a mile to the town centre and Tesco's. We decided to stock up and get a taxi back to the boat with all the bags. Ben didn't like the car ride but we couldn't face carrying heavy bags that far! After another quiet night we decided to go on to Ellesmere after all there are no locks for the next twenty miles. Ellesmere has seven meres or lakes and lots of footpaths so we had lots of walks to keep Ben busy! He has been calmer now we take him out for a long walk in the morning and evening. We should certainly be getting much fitter!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Further Travels Of Bendigedig

We left Kidsgrove with cupboards, freezer and fridge full on our way again. We stopped at Hassall Green for the night after a busy day. Ben has learnt to walk across the lockgates (on his lead) following me. He has had a few wet feet incidents where he has slipped as we walked along the towpath and ended up dipping his toes in the canal, luckily his lead saved him from a dip! He is getting quite good at jumping on the boat when we are moored but can only jump off the stern. He's still a maniac in the evenings so we end up going for a walk as this gets rid of all that doggy energy!

We travelled up to Sandbach and collected some paint from Norwich Boats , then off to travel the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union and what a delightful canal it was- lots of countryside views and very peaceful away from roads and trains. As we left this canal we were photographed by a bus load of Japanese tourists. They snapped way and waved to us! They could see the galley through the open side hatch and commented ' look they have a microwave' which made us smile.

After a short distance we reached Hurleston Junction and the lock keeper ( a woman) helped us through the locks. We are on our way to Wales! The Llangollen Canal is beautiful and we have achieved some firsts, our first electrically controlled lift bridge and our first set of three locks in a staircase. We are flying the welsh flag and soon we'll be in Wales.