Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Ready To Go Cruising

We've been busy this week for the beginning of the cruising season, so it should be a more boaty blog from now on, although Ben and I will still be doing a lot of walking. First of all , it was make sure there's plenty of food in cupboard, fridge and freezer to keep us going until the next port of call. You get used to being near shops when you're moored up on a winter mooring so you can always pop out for anything you need. The washing all done and has been blowing in the wind, lowering the tone of the moorings. The boat's been cleaned inside and outside, but it never stays clean's a boat! The coal man delivered some coal to keep us going while the evenings are still cold.

Before we leave Llangollen Angela and Trevor (NB Libertybelle) invited us up to see their new home ...a house on dry land. After many years afloat they've settled in Llangollen, a town I could quite happily live in if I wasn't living on a boat. After four years afloat I still love the changing scenery and being able to see different parts of the country. Of course there are places we repeatedly come back to and those we say never again.

This year we'll be cruising old haunts, the Shropshire Union Canal, the Staffs and Worc Canal, the Trent and Mersey Canal and discovering new places...the Erewash Canal, River Soar and the Grand Union ( Leicester Line). But after that who knows where we'll cruise it's seven months before we need to think about winter moorings again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Census Day 27th March 2011

This afternoon we had a surprise, a tap on the boat window and surprise, surprise a man delivering census forms by hand. As a local man he was aware that there are narrowboats moored on the wharf and called to deliver the forms. He gave us one to fill in and said if the other one arrives at the PO then mark it 'duplicate, not needed' and send it back. So perhaps some of the liveaboard boaters will be included in the census, just like years ago when the form was delivered by hand.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Walking Around Llangollen

Diesel Day at Llangollen Railway

The River Dee is not washing the balcony today!

' Camping Pods' for hire

Velvet Hill in the mist

Today the towpath is buzzing with walkers, dogs and bikes so Ben and I had to escape to the hills. We walked along the towpath passing the old coaches at the Llangollen Railway Engineering and Restoration Base, just as an old diesel train tooted and came past. It's diesel day today so no steam trains running. We did walk as far as the canal bridge before the Chainbridge Hotel and then along the road to walk the lower path around part of Velvet Hill (Coed Hyrddyn). We met another short haired collie just a year old on route and the dogs played for ages, in fact Ben preferred his company to mine and took an age to come back!

We then walked down a slope, over a stile to cross the road and follow the signs through a field with loads of new lambs and their mums to walk past Valle Crucis Abbey and through the caravan park. I crossed the river on a footbridge, Ben paddled and we climbed the steps near the new 'camping pods' for hire from Abbey Farm. Three more stiles and we were walking the green track around the hillside which usually has lovely views of Valle Crucis Abbey with Velvet Hill behind it. But the mist came down so no views today.

Back along the road to the canal bridge by the Motor Museum and then back to the boat along the towpath and on the way we passed the horse drawn boat, one of the first of the season which started today- Ben was on a very short lead!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Still No Census Form!

My census form never arrived in Llangollen PO, if it was ever posted, as there was no record of one being sent to me at that post code. So another phone call to the welsh help line which lasted 15 minutes, as the person on the end of the phone had no idea how to send a form when I didn't have an address, he kept putting me on hold to go and find out what to do. My census form should arrive at Ellesmere PO in the next ten days, this time he read back to me where it was going to be sent and included both my name and the name of the boat. It was no good sending it to Llangollen PO as we're on the move on the 1st of April heading towards Ellesmere. We'll just have to wait and see if this one gets to me. How did they manage years ago......working boatmen were included in the earlier census's.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gwenllian's Got Chicken Spots!

Surrounded by books

In the car wearing her dad's sunglasses

This morning Ben and I went walking in the hills overlooking Berwyn Station, a beautiful day and I was really hot on the up parts of the walk. While I was out walking I received a text on my phone telling me my granddaughter Gwenllian has chicken pox, so I rang for a chat telling her she had chicken spots! Gwenllian was itchy but calamine lotion was on it's way. As usual she wanted to speak to her grandad so we rang again when I got back. The photos were taken by her dad.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Walking- Froncysyllte To Llangollen

Llangollen and Llantisilio Mountains

On Saturday Liz and I arranged our Sunday long walk with the dogs and decided on a 9.30am start so we'd get back at lunch time. I woke on Sunday morning to the sound of rain on the roof but it was gone by the time we left Llangollen Wharf. Nick kindly gave us a lift to Fronsycyllte which is across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from Trevor Basin, and took us to the top of the first steep climb leading up Methodist Hill which saved our energy for the later climb through Pen-y-coed Wood back to Llangollen. We followed the same route as our walk (Blogged March 8th) but this time we didn't need to refer to the book, we knew which way to go. It took us about three hours to complete the walk and we knew we'd walked miles!

We met a pair of off road dirt bikers but no problem as we heard them coming and they did slow down unlike the speedy cyclist I met on the towpath on Saturday. Basically the new towpath surface means the cyclist can go a lot faster and this one didn't slow down or ring a bell he just appeared behind me. Good job barking Ben was on a lead otherwise he would have chased those wheels! The abrupt stop by the cyclist made his back wheel lose contact with the path and I had comments about my nasty dog who shouldn't be allowed on towpaths if he doesn't like bikes! I didn't bother to tell him I paid a considerable amount of money for a boat licence to use the canal and did he even have a permit to use the towpaths and couldn't he afford to buy a bell? As he continued on his way cursing me, he failed to dismount at the sign before the moored boats and my husband shouted ' someone else who can't read' as he sped past him as he filled the water tank. In fact only one couple walked their bikes past the boats on Sunday afternoon, the others chose to ignore the sign!

Back on the boat in time for lunch and I did some baking after that ....sausage rolls and 'ice squares' (custard slices) .... Eric was pleased!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Walking- Trevor Rocks And Castell Dinas Bran

Views from above Trevor Rocks

On Friday Ben and I went walking with Liz and Connie above the carboniferous limestone escarpment called Trevor Rocks. Our walk started with Nick taking us by car to the starting point. We followed the permissive path and climbed up until we were walking along the top edge of Trevor Rocks with panoramic views of Llangollen, Castell Dinas Bran, the Dee valley and Llantisilio Mountains. We followed a three mile circular walk found in 'Walks Around Llangollen And The Dee Valley' by David Berry (Kittiwake ISBN 978 1 902302 43 0) and then walked back along the road to walk around the lower levels of Castell Dinas Bran back to Llangollen Wharf. It's a great little book and well worth the £4.95!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Walking The Towpath- Pontcysyllte to Llangollen

Eric and Ben
Ben in the mud!

A view of Dinas Bran from the canal

On Thursday morning Eric and I walked the towpath from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Llangollen with Ben the dog. Despite the weather forecast telling us of rain, it was dry and sunny so we caught the No. 5 bus as far as Trevor (Wrexham bus) and walked down to the canal to begin our walk. As we arrived a coach load of foreign tourists were busy taking photographs of the boats and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. We crossed the footbridge over the canal and had a quick look in the Anglowelsh shop as I needed a Pearson's for the Oxford and Grand Union (our last one had a watery fate) and began our walk along the towpath. It took us about an hour and a half to walk back to Llangollen and this time I remembered to take some photographs on the way. Work to improve the path is ongoing from Bryn Howell back to Llangollen, so in some places the path was very uneven as it had been dug out ready for the new surface, but it'll be great when it's all finished.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Boaters' Lunch At The Wild Pheasant

On Wednesday Liz and I were out walking the dogs at ten o'clock as we needed to be back in time to go out to lunch. Just a short walk today as far as the Pentrefelin Embankment but the dogs didn't mind as long as they've been out. Lunch was at the Wild Pheasant Hotel and a table was booked for ten at 1 pm. Bernie and Maggie (NB Blue Diamond), Alan and Eiddwen (NB Shush), Nick and Liz (NB Henry), Ian (NB Spadger) and Angela (NB Libertybelle) all arrived, but Trevor couldn't make it today. We had lunch in the conservatory from the varied lunch menu and the food was good value at £5.95 for the meal and £2.50 for a pudding. I thoroughly enjoyed my lasagne, garlic bread with salad and coleslaw followed by cheesecake. Eric had bangers and mash followed by fudge cake and icecream. A few beers and a good catch up chat at the only Boaters' lunch we've had this winter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 2011 Census- No Fixed Abode!

NB Bendigedig on Llangollen Wharf

First of all many thanks to Sue of NB No Problem for the phone nimber for the 2011 Census Helpline- Wales- 0300 0201 130 (options 1(for English),options 5, 5 ,5 gets an advisor). I rang the number and explained the situation (i.e no house and living on a boat) and our form is being sent to the local Post Office. All he wanted was the post code and the number of the street. He had no idea what 'Poste Restante' was so I told him to put my name and 'To Be Collected' on the envelope. Hopefully it will arrive!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another Walk, Another VIew of Velvet Hill

A view of Velvet Hill from the incline

Today Liz and I did a seven mile walk and it included several sections of climbing up hills... I knew I'd done it by the time we got back to the boats. The dogs of course walked a lot further. We started off by walking along a familiar route overlooking Valle Crucis Abbey and then continuing along the track past a plantation to Hendre, a sign post and an awkward stile. The stile was high and it had a big drop on the other side, Ben had no trouble but we lifted Connie over as she suffers with her joints and it was just too high. A few stiles later and we walked through the car park of the Brittania Inn, it looked a nice place....must remember to make a stop when we have more time. Climbing up past Pen-y-Bryn was slow progress but we had a completely different view of Velvet Hill (Coed Hyrddyn). We crossed the remains of an incline, part of a tramway system for transporting slate from quarries at Horseshoe Pass to the Llangollen canal. We enjoyed the lovely views while the dogs enjoyed the freedom of the open hillside as there were no sheep until we were back down in fields. Llantisilio Hall is impressive as we walked past on the road down to Llantisilio Church and then the Horseshoe Falls and back along the canal. We passed the old Pentrefelin Slate works which was the terminus of the tramway built in 1852 and now houses a vintage car collection as the Motor Museum. Back on the boat it was lunch then a lazy afternoon, Eric was watching the rugby and Wales WON!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Valle Crucis Walk And A Trip To Ellesmere

Eric's in Newport visiting family and catching up with the doctor, dentist and hospital with various appointments. I've been out walking today with Ben, Liz and Connie and it's been very windy here in Llangollen. We decided to walk on the lower footpath around Velvet Hill (Coed Hyrddyn). This hill is owned by the National Trust with open access and even from the lower footpath the views are really good. We came down a steep, muddy slope to a stile opposite Valle Crucis Abbey and we then had to cross the A542. The next footpath had kissing gates at each side of the field. It had some sheep and lambs but they were well away from the footpath and of course the dogs were on their leads. We then followed the signs through the caravan park. We found the footbridge over the very small, shallow river and Ben decided to paddle across the water than jump the stile onto the bridge. As we climbed up stepped slope to continue our walk you could see the fishpond, which is the only surviving monk's fishpond in Wales. We continued over another stile to cross another sheep field and left it over a high stepped stile. Another stile and we were slowly climbing the path around the side of the hill overlooking the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey. Liz pointed out Eliseg's Pillar in one of the fields near the road, it once stood 20 feet high with a cross. Valle Crucis was named after this cross. We headed up to the viewpoint where someone had made wooden seats and a picnic table to enjoy the lovely views. Two more stiles and we passed Byn Hyfryd and followed the road back down to the canal near the Motor Museum. We followed the canal towpath back to the boats and left the dogs to sleep while we went out for lunch at the 'Black Lion' in Ellesmere. The food is usually really good, well worth a visit. Thanks to Nick and Liz for taking me out to lunch.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Walking Trevor Basin To Llangollen

A view of Trevor and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

A misty view of Trevor Rocks and Dinas Bran

A view from Pen-y-coed Wood

This morning it was great walking weather so Liz and I decided we'd have a nice long walk. The walk started at Trevor Basin so we caught the bus to Trevor and the bus driver charged 50p each for the dogs. It said on the ticket accompanied dog which made me smile- dogs can't go alone. Trevor Basin used to be a hive of industrial activity and transport in the early nineteenth century. The canal was used to transport processed limestone from the quarry nearby as far as the Midlands where it was used in iron-smelting.It's now the home of Anglowelsh and provides hireboats as well as services for passing narrowboats. We walked across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct crossing the River Dee (now a World Heritage site)- a first for me (don't look down!) I don't like heights. Then along the towpath to cross the Lift Bridge and then up to the A5. We waited for a gap in the traffic and crossed to climb up Methodist Hill following the route to walk along the top edge of the former Pen-y-Craig Quarry. The views along the way were amazing although it was rather misty as you looked across the Dee Valley to Dinas Bran and the hills beyond. The dogs enjoyed being off their leads most of the way apart from through sheep fields and along some quiet lanes. We came down near Croes Yr Escob, which leads down into Pengwern Vale which is a wide U-shaped dry river valley formerly the main route of the River Dee. We followed the road to walk back up through Pen-y-coed wood , down into Llangollen and back to the boats. We'd walked about six miles and my feet knew it, but it was worth it for the spectacular views. Ben had a nice nap when he got back to the boat! I expect Connie did too!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Walk Before Sunday Lunch!

Velvet Hill (Feb 2010)

Another view of Castell Dinas Bran

The steam train near Berwyn Station

Berwyn Station and the steam train

A view of Valle Crucis Abbey from Velvet Hill

This morning was cold but the dogs were raring to go so Liz and I set off towards Berwyn and the Horseshoe Falls. We hadn't made plans for a route so we decided to leave the canal towpath across the footbridge before the Chain Bridge Hotel and follow the footpath signs up Velvet Hill, which is one of the attractions on the Llangollen History Trail. It was a route I hadn't taken before and as we climbed up it was really cold on your face and ears. The dogs were really enjoying the space and Connie was running circles in the bracken. Velvet hill gets it's name from the soft texture of the closely cropped mosses and grasses which were pleasant to walk on as it was springy underfoot. From the hill you could see lovely views of Dinas Bran, Berwyn and Valle Crucis Abbey and eventually we made our way down to meet the footpath which skirts the hill and followed it back to the car park. Back down the road to the canal towpath and then back to the boats. We'd been walking for two and half hours so we were more than ready for lunch at 'The Bridge Hotel' once the dogs were back on their boats. Eric came too but Nick was busy hedge laying on the Montgomery Canal.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A Walk With Liz and Connie

Ben's big stick

Connie ready to pounce!

This morning Ben and I had a pleasant walk with Liz and Connie as her pad is at last healing up nicely. Liz was taking no chances so Connie was bandaged for her walk. We headed towards Castell Dinas Bran and Connie was delighted to off her lead and free to explore, she was off looking for anything that moves while Ben was finding the biggest stick (more like a branch) he could manage to carry. We followed a signed route around the bottom of the hill below the castle ruins, one that was new to me and had good views of Trevor Rocks and the other side of Castell Dinas Bran. We then walked through a sheep free field (it's usually full of sheep) and down the road where Ben tugged me along so I nearly bowled Liz over when he speeded up down the hill. Luckily I didn't so there was no accidents.

We then followed another signed footpath across the fields to a lane past a farm and some houses. Connie and Ben had a surprise as half a dozen chickens were in the lane and they scurried on ahead of us as we put the dogs on leads. At the end of the lane they turned into a garden enabling us to finally get past them. The house owner was quite happy to find out whose chickens they were, probably from the farm we passed along the lane. He told us a tale of the farmer's piglets escaping and Liz remembered seeing them on the hill. We walked along the road and down through another sheep free field to walk along the footpath past Dinas Bran School and back along the canal towpath to the boats. Ben and Connie had a good walk, so it should be a peaceful afternoon. I enjoyed being out and about and it was nice to have Liz for company.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Improving The Towpath

Plenty of mud

Ready for the new surface

New surface

On Monday I decided to go and see how the work is progressing in the towpath improvement from Llangollen towards Bryn Howel. Ben and I needed a different walk so we walked past the open lift bridge to the next bridge, up the lane to the farm and then we followed the footpath signs through some fields towards the bottom of Dinas Bran. It was a walk previously done in the opposite direction, but it isn't clearly marked so we ended up coming back on the road a bit lower down than last time through a farm gate. Nobody about so we made ourselves scarce and continued down the hill back to Llangollen. An enjoyable walk with snowdrops, daffodils, celandines to be seen as well as new lambs and a couple of pheasants in the fields. Spring is certainly here with catkins dancing in the breeze.

The walk along the canal was certainly muddy and my boots were heavy with the accumulated mud as we set off up the lane to the farm. The photographs show the mud, which will be gone as the surface is prepared for the 'weed mat' layer, wooden edges laid and then covered with gritty stuff and rollered. It'll be great when it's finished and until then I'll be walking the other way........just too much mud!