Sunday, October 31, 2010

Over The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Or 'Bendy' In The Sky

Emerging from Whitehouses Tunnel

Across the aqueduct by canoe!

NB Bendigedig ( aka Bendy) in the sky!

On Saturday we were woken early by the trains being quite near the line going to Chirk. We were in luck the wind had dropped and it wasn't raining. First of all it was walk the dog while Eric cruised alongside- progress was slow being against the flow of the canal and the dreaded leaves. Ben and I walked through Whitehouses Tunnel and took a picture of NB Bendigedig as she emerged into the sunshine.

We continued on our way as the canal towpath becomes part of the Offa's Dyke Footpath stopping to work a lift bridge at Froncysyllte before getting back on the boat to cross the aqueduct. I was a bit of a chicken I didn't fancy walking across with Ben the dog. The boat looked as if it was flying in my photo but it was very slow progress, the canoes following us across were being held up by us.

Then we turned left onto the final very shallow stretch to reach our weekend mooring spot- Llangollen Wharf. Ben and I walked ahead to check if any boats were coming through the narrow sections, luckily we passed the trip boat in a wider section. The children on the boat were having a great time waving at everyone. Now we're moored up we'd like to stay but it's 48 hours only- nevermind we'll be back.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Trip To Wales- Across The Chirk Aqueduct

On Friday morning it was rather blustery, it was a case of untie the boat and get blown away. Lots of leaves about meant the propeller needed reverse every so often. Ben and I walked for a while but I was soon back on the boat as remembered the mud near Chirk Bank. Approaching Chirk Aqueduct with not a boat in sight so we crossed towards Chirk Tunnel and as the sign shows we are now in Wales. Progress has been slow against the flow of the canal so we decided to moor up near Chirk Marina where we knew we could get a good satellite signal. I heard a shout of 'Hello Elsie' from the marina which is the home mooring of Mac and Sue (NB Barney). We had a chat across the canal! Now it's raining as well as blowing so we're glad we stopped. Let's hope the weather's kinder for the 'Pontcysyllte Aqueduct' crossing on Saturday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Short Cruise To New Marton Locks

Going in New Marton Bottom Lock

What a night, it poured with rain last night and the trees dripped on the boat all night so it was noisy with the wind as well. In the morning the boat was covered in leaves, but at least the rain had stopped. We headed for New Marton Locks and there were no queues towards Llangollen but a long queue going the other way. Ben and I walked as usual, rather muddy underfoot but I wasn't surprised after all that rain. We worked quickly through the two locks and then stopped for water as I'd done a load of washing. We finally stopped on the Visitor Moorings. We can see hills from the boat windows - the Berwyn Hills.
We decided to walk up to Stan's Supermarket in St Martins but it was uphill so it took us about half an hour, we're not used to hills spending so much time walking the towpaths. Nice views of more hills at the top. Plenty of choice in Stan's but we only we did a bit of shopping (two rucksacks full) before the easier downhill walk back. It didn't seem so far with a bag of chips from the chippy on the way back.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Slowly Does It- Just To Hindford

Frankton Staircase Locks (Montgomery Canal)

On Tuesday Ben and I walked down the Montgomery Canal in the rain. There were a couple of boats waiting for their booked passage between 12 and 2pm but few boats about otherwise. What a change from the Llangollen Canal this week where boats are passing us every few minutes in their rush to get to Llangollen. We are not in a rush so we decided to stay put as the weather wasn't good. Ben still needed a walk so off we went down the Montgomery Canal with Ben enjoying a good run along the towpath with nobody else about. The wind in my face made it quite cold but with the wind behind me I was fine. Ben got rather wet but after a rub down with a towel he was fine. Later in the day NB Poppy, a fellow blogger's boat passed us by on their way to Ellesmere and I shouted hello to the steerer. We had a quiet enough night once the boat traffic stopped apart from wind and heavy rain in the night.

On Wednesday we didn't go far briefly stopping at Maestermyn to get some black paint to touch up the scrapes on the gunnels. Ben and I walked with the boat as far as Hindford, where Jack Mytton's pub is canalside. We met NB Shush on their way to Ellesmere and moored up for a chat. Boats continued to pass us by heading for the locks at New Marton. Alan and Eiddwen mentioned the queues to go through the locks so we decided to stay put at Hindford. Perhaps it will be quieter tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'Manic Monday'- Ellesmere To Frankton Junction

This morning we woke up to see a thick frost covering everything outside the boat but as the sun rose in the sky it melted away. We'd decided to turn around, fill up with water, and use the services and do a Tesco shop. First of all I had to walk the dog. But it turned into a manic Monday with boats everywhere, of course it's half term! First of all there was no room on the water point so we went down the Ellesmere Arm looking for a mooring to stop and shop, but again there was no room. Two boats at the end of the arm sporting 'For Sale' signs and one now also has a patrol notice attached as well as they chose to ignore the 72 hours signs. Some of the winter moorers are already there too, although there's another week before the winter moorings start.

We managed to moor up just outside the Arm and did the shopping so we won't starve. As we moved off to the water point there were boats everywhere, so our spot was soon filled again. Amazingly we had the water point to ourselves for all of ten minutes. Everything emptied or filled so we're OK for a week or so. Loads of boats on the move and of course we met them in awkward places as usual. Ben and I jumped off at a bridge hole so we could walk as far as Frankton Junction where the Bridge Numbers begin again 1W where the W stands for west. We moored up on the visitor moorings as the boats continued to rush past us. We are hoping they will have been and come back from Llangollen before we even get there.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back To Ellesmere- Meres And Sculptures

We decided to have a long cruise today from Grindley Brook to Ellesmere, it took about six hours but the weather was great although it did go off cold when it clouded over. At Whitchurch a boater lowered the lift bridge in front of us rather than wait a few minutes and let us through- I always wait if I see a boat coming!

We pulled in to Whitchurch Marina, home of Viking Afloat who were pleased to see us as we needed coal, gas and fuel. Very helpful- he even put the coal on roof for us. Ben and I walked for about four miles but it was my arms that were tired after the number of turns needed to raise and lower the five lift bridges on the way. The leaves are falling so Eric had to clear the propeller every so often. He was all wrapped up as it gets cold on the back of the boat but I was warm walking the dog.

Back on the boat it was great to be heading towards Ellesmere, passing the meres (lakes) of Cole Mere and Blake Mere which are alongside the canal. There are seven meres around Ellesmere, formed in the Ice Age as the glaciers retreated and melted waters collected in the cups of land according to the 'Pearson's Guide'. Ben thinks Blake Mere is a great place to paddle in the shallow edges. Through the Ellesmere Tunnel (without crashing) and we're nearly there- there's some new sculptures along the towpath too. We passed a line of moored boats, had a look down the Arm but it looked full and then carried on to moor up near the BW yard. I popped down to Tesco's and knocked on NB Derwent 6 and stopped to chat. I ended up walking back to the boat in the dark but I had a torch in my pocket as I didn't want to end up in the cut.

Ben and I have been out walking today while Eric serviced the engine and topped up the batteries. I took some photos of some of the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail while we walked familiar territory. It's busy here at Ellesmere with a few of the winter moorers already in position on the Ellesmere Arm. It's a popular site which sold out straight away. We are waiting to see when BW finish the work on the Pentrefelin Embankment as we like it in Llangollen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nine Locks Today- Above Grindley Brook

Willey Moor Lock
This morning there was a mist lying on top of the canal but it soon went as the sun came up to give us a lovely sunny day. You can see the lovely blue sky as we worked through Willey Moor Lock with the pub of the same name alongside. It was closed as it was only 11.30am, we've never timed it right yet. Ben and I enjoyed our walk in the sunshine although it felt much colder in the shade of the trees.

After three locks we were at the bottom of Grindley Brook just in time to stop a boat crew turning the lock against us -they hadn't looked to see if a boat was coming. It was a bit chaotic as a Middlewich boat has damaged it's rudder on a lock cill and was moored in a pound. Also a very inexperienced crew on another boat was unsure how to do the staircase of three locks. The boat was in the bottom lock and they were puzzled as how they could raise the boat as they hadn't filled the top two locks with water. There is a sign telling you what to do, but it was all new to them. I explained and filled the locks for them as the lock keeper was at lunch.

Soon it was our turn as there were no boats coming down and we were up above the staircase using the services before we moored up on the Visitor Moorings. There was excellent pressure on the water tap so it filled up really quickly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wet, Wet,Wet -Wrenbury To Quoisley Lock

The weather didn't look at all promising on Tuesday morning but we needed a change of scenery or should I say greenery. We'd spent a week at Wrenbury just off the visitor moorings so we were itching to move. Any way wet gear on and off we went in the rain- showers it said but it was heavy rain with very short dry sunny bits! Ben and I squelched (I need new boots!) along the towpath while Eric sheltered under the large umbrella which was soon discarded after the wind got up. It felt really cold too.

Arriving at Marbury Lock we pulled in for a cuppa and then worked through the lock with the rain still hammering down. Ben and I had got wet enough so it was back on the boat for the final stretch to moor on the visitor moorings before Quoisley Lock. The rain hammered on the roof all afternoon and the boat looked like a laundry as the washing had piled up because we weren't doing any washing until we could fill up the water tank. I should say we had plenty of water for our personal use! Luckily Wrenbury Mill allowed us to use their facilities when we had the gas work done, as the next services were above Grindley Brook. Once the rain stopped we had a quiet night out in the countryside.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No Leaks At Wrenbury

Moored at Wrenbury

Gas bubble tester

Ben was in a funny mood yesterday as he just didn't want to go for a walk past the 'Dusty Miller' as yesterday they'd emptied the bottle banks and frightened him with the noise! So I left him on the boat while I went to check they were ready for us at the boat yard at Wrenbury Mill. Eric manoeuvred the boat into the space and then Ben and I went for a walk to Marbury Locks and back. Ben enjoys this walk as there is a clean stream running alongside the canal and he enjoys a paddle- and shakes all over me!

Back on the boat the friendly engineer had fitted the gas bubble tester and we were waiting for the 'Gas Safe' engineer to turn the gas back on and check the system for leaks. I'd had to empty the kitchen cupboard next to the cooker as this was where the gas isolation valve and testing point are. It's surprising how much stuff that cupboard holds. Anyway all tested and the gas cooker checked and we passed the Gas Safety Check and have the certificate to prove it. Then there was unexpected power cut putting the payment system out of action and the Lift Bridge out of action but it didn't last long and soon we were on our way with much lighter pockets.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Cold And Frosty Morning At Wrenbury


We met up with Alan and Eiddwen at Wrenbury (NB Shush) as planned and moored in front of them. We had a catch up chat and tried to get a satellite signal ending up moving the boat along a boat length to get a good signal. After getting a bit of shopping we popped in the boatyard at Wrenbury Mill to ask about a gas safety certificate- one step towards our Boat Safety Certificate (BSC). Our engineer had told us we needed this for the BSC as we live aboard. We're also going to have a gas bubble tester put on the system for our own safety. So we are hanging about at Wrenbury to get it done.

Eric's been visiting in Newport as there's a station at Wrenbury. Arriva Trains have a good deal on at the moment called Club 55- travel on their routes for £15 return or £13 with a senior railcard if you're over 55. He stayed at his sister's house- thanks Paula for putting him up- and was able to visit my dad, our daughters and grandaughter Gwen. The picture was taken by her dad Gerwyn, put on facebook and pinched by me!

I had a quiet few days walking Ben the dog, reading a book and spending time on the computer of course. I passed the NB Kate/Katy who moor at Swanley (sorry can't remember which!) while out walking the dog and had a chat, they knew us from my blog. It's surprising how quiet it can be when you're on the boat without your other half. So he's back and we're waiting patiently. This is one of the places with a 'Designated Winter Mooring' sign but not a place I'd want to stay for five months unless I had a car.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurleston Junction- Hello NB Shush

NB Shush & NB Bendigedig at Hurleston Junction

Going up!

After a phone call to Alan & Eiddwen on NB Shush we decided to head up towards Llangollen while we still could. BW work is due to start November 8th on the Pentrefelin Embankment between Llangollen and the feeder at Horseshoe Falls which means the section between Trevor and Llangollen will be closed to boats as the water levels will be too low. It is due to finish by December 17th but who knows how long it will take. This is the planned work for Winter 2009 which never happened.

We left Nantwich and headed towards Hurleston junction, while NB Shush travelled from Calverley. We worked through Hurleston locks before stopping for water, rubbish and sanitary station. NB Shush finished before us and had to free up the water point so we decided to meet up at Wrenbury. Lots of boat movement making locking easier especially as the other boat crew came up to help. It's nice when that happens but it's not so common now and some people find it very difficult even to speak to you.

Hello to the boaters which passed us on Nantwich Embankment and said they read the blog- Eric asked the boat name and then forget before he'd even told me!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sun Rise At Coole Pilate Then Water Troubles!

Sun rise on NB Bendigedig

Early this morning the central heating cut in- it was 12 degrees C on the boat and my nose was cold. I waited for it to warm up a bit before leaving my warm bed to take Ben out to water the hedge. We'd had a frost and the roof was white, there was a low mist and the sun was rising shining on the side of the boat, so I took a photograph.

Back inside I wiped the dripping windows before getting up. Eric said 'Have you put the washing machine on 'cause it looks as if it's emptying?' Then we realised it was the wrong side of the boat and it was the cabin bilge was pumping out water like we'd never seen before. Where do we start to find the leak? Well we started at the water pump under the sink and yes it was leaking rather a lot. A phone call to Mark Edwards and he came to us at Nantwich with a new pump that afternoon. Eric was worried if he tried to fix it we'd end up with a flood!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Moving On - The Audlem Flight

Going Down Audlem Locks

This morning we were sat having our breakfast in our dressing gowns watching a few boats go by- one called NB London Future caught our eye and they waved. A few minutes later there was a knock on the window as the rear of the boat was stuck in the mud and they needed help to pull it off. There we were pulling in our drssing gowns- what a sight.

We finally got up to begin our descent down the Audlem Locks- fifteen in all. Leaving it until 11am to leave had it's advantages as there were boats coming up meaning the majority of the locks were ready for us. We stopped before the last three to get a few bits and pieces at the Co-op before going down a lock to moor next to 'The Shroppie Fly' to fill up with water and use the service block. The sun was shining and lots of people were about walkingg.eating and drinking.

Two more locks and we were on our way to Coole Pilate Leisure Area provided by the Shropshire Union Canal Society. Basically it's a mooring with picnic benches with barbeques out in the countryside. We passed 'Overwater Marina' which is a lot fuller than a few months ago. A boat passed us which we didn't recognise crewed by Sue and Mac. NB Cabinessence is for sale in Chirk Marina and they were out in their new boat NB Barney.They usually spend the winter on the Llangollen Canal too.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Visit To Audlem

The Shroppie Fly

We had a few days at Coxbank above Audlem doing a few jobs on the boat while it was dry. We had a walk down the locks to Audlem with Ben the dog and had a look around the Audlem Mill Canal Shop before going for a walk around Audlem itself. It was lunch time and the 'Village Fryer' was open so we had to sample their fish and chips- very nice too. We ate them sitting on a seat under 'The Old Butter Market' outside the church watching the world go by.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Onwards And Upwards To Coxbank

We had a fuel stop at the boat yard near the water tap and bought some coal too. We then filled up with water, used the sanitary station and got rid of the rubbish. Ben and I then started our morning walk which proved to be very muddy and boggy alongside Betton Wood. The forecast rain came in the early hours so we walked in sunshine as far as Adderley Locks where we stopped for a short time.It rained when we stopped but it didn't last long. We planned to stay overnight but realised it could be a noisy night with the Shroppie shelf. Every time a boat went past we banged and crashed and ended up on the shelf even with the long fenders between the shelf and the boat -so we moved.

Adderley Locks were against us but at least there were only five. The top lock provided some goodies in the form of fresh scones. There was also fruit pies, fresh bread and free range eggs. They are definitely free range with hens running around on the lock side. The lady operates the stall with an honesty box and she told me she'd been having troubles with people basically taking everything on the stall or putting in pennies and taking what they like. Once down the locks we continued our cruise stopping two locks down the Audlem Flight at Coxbank. Here we could moor next to the piled bank which means a much quieter night.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It's Autumn- Norbury To Market Drayton

Autumn sunshine!

In Woodseaves Cutting- Bridge 57

Leaving our mooring at Norbury was delayed waiting for a space at the waterpoint then a boat went past us and pulled into our space so we waited again with me on the waterpoint. I managed to change loads of books at the BW Information Centre so I've got reading matter for quite a while. Ben and I walked until we reached Grub Street Cutting as I didn't have my wellies on. Back on the boat I checked my emails knowing that the winter moorings were coming online today.

The Shroppie is reknown for it's high embankments and deep cuttings and we cruised along Shebdon Embankment where the breach caused chaos last year. Ben and I jumped off the boat at a bridge hole and had a lovely walk with the Wrekin in sight and the hills beyond visible too. Back on the boat for Woodseaves Cutting where the canal narrows in places and is cut through solid rock. Ferns flourish in the damp atmosphere and the towpath's very wet too. At Tyrley Locks progress as most of the traffic was going down, further delayed by a boat getting stuck on the cill- no not a hireboat. They were lucky as they put some water in the lock and floated off the cill. We moored outside Market Drayton where everyone walks their dogs so it certainly wasn't quiet spot.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Day At Norbury Junction

A view from the boat

We found the night much quieter than our previous mooring place as there are no major roads or motorways in ear shot. The forecast rain arrived but had eased a little by ten thirty so Ben and I set out for a walk heading south along the Shelmore Embankment. About twenty fishermen were out so our path was blocked by the long very expensive poles/rods and large umbrellas. I had to duck to get under the umbrellas and wait for them to move the poles if they weren't happy for me to step over them, but Ben just went over or under depending on the height of the pole. A few were grumpy telling me that they cost £1,500 pounds so wait for me to move it. I thought it would have been easier to fish from the other bank as that's where the end of the line was! Some were chatty and one said he was happy to sit in the rain all day to be out of the way of his wife. As Ben and I turned around to walk back to the boat we had to go past them all again.

Back on the boat Ben had a rub down while I hung up my wet gear to dry. I read the Sunday paper and then began to cook some lamb for dinner. I always enjoy a Sunday roast and I don't mind cooking it. We had a lazy afternoon and then the sun went down with a very pretty sky which made me think of the rhyme 'red sky at night shepherds delight'. The weather forecast is good so we'll be moving in the morning.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Rain Stopped Play -Cruising and Golf !

On the Visitor Moorings at Bridge 8 we could see the lovely heart on the back doors of NB Derwent 6. Del was making us feel guilty as he was cleaning brasses. Not long afterwards it started to rain! We checked the weather forecast and it confirmed the next day was going to be dreadful so we decided we were going nowhere. Ben and I did venture out in the morning and I didn't get too wet as I had my wet gear on. Ben just had a rub down with a towel when we came back. Derwent 6 decided to stay put too!

After a day watching the rain, which also stopped the Ryder Cup Golf in Newport,the following day was dry so were on our way again. The Shroppie has long straight sections, with high embankments and deep cuttings where the greenery flourishes. I took this photo in June of this year when it was very hot but today you needed a jumper. Ben and I had a lovely walk as far as Brewood but it was very muddy in places. Ben looked after the boat while we popped into Brewood for a few essentials. Then we were on our way again.

We planned to stop just outside Gnosall but as usual there were boats already moored in the only spaces where satellite was possible. A few spaces in Gnosall Visitor Moorings weren't any good as there were trees everywhere. So we carried on and finally Ben had a walk along the Shelmore Embankment and we were at Norbury Junction. Luckily a boat was leaving so we had a place to stay as the weather forecast is not good for Sunday either.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back On The Shroppie ( S.U.C)

Waiting at Autherley Junction

Autherley Stop Lock at Bridge 1 (S.U.C)

We left our mooring below Gailey Lock and I went on ahead to do the lock. Of course it was full and I had to turn it with no boats in sight wanting to come down. While the lock emptied Eric popped in the Canal Shop in the Round House to get some milk. The waterpoint was full of boats so we decided to get some at Autherley Junction - the people moored on the Gailey waterpoint were just chatting with not a hose in sight.

Ben and I walked for few miles before getting back on the boat to make bacon butties for lunch-very nice too. Not that many boats moving which was great because we didn't meet any boats in the narrow section at Pendeford. We finally reached Autherley Junction and planned to turn right to go on the Shropshire Union Canal going through the stop lock. First we had to wait as a boat came out and another went in the lock. Soon it was our turn and we went under Bridge 1 of the Shroppie and into the lock. The water level difference is small but we were raised up onto the Shroppie and back on one of our favourite canals.

The Shropshire Union Canal Society has provided lots of visitor moorings which makes finding a mooring easier so we moored up before Bridge 8. Off the visitor moorings you often have the 'shroppie shelf' which the boat bangs against unless you put long fenders down. With heavy rain forecast tomorrow we won't be going anywhere by boat but Ben will get a walk regardless of the weather.