Monday, October 31, 2011

A Walk To The Horseshoe Falls

Ben paddling in the River Dee 'throw me a stick!'
Today we decided on a walk to Horseshoe Falls along side the shallow canal only used by wild life, canoes and the horse-drawn boats. Yesterday we saw the horse-drawn boats in action, but today the stables are shut up and the horses have gone to their winter pastures for a well earned rest. The dogs could run on the towpath with no chance of meeting a horse. Llangollen is much quieter today, half term is over and most of the visitors have gone.  Just a few dog walkers on the towpath and a few walkers on their way to the falls too.

Horseshoe Falls is a  crescent shaped weir rather than a falls and from here the water is taken from the River Dee to begin it's 44 mile journey to Hurleston. At the beginning  (or end) of the canal is a valve house which controls the flow of the water into the Llangollen Canal. Ben enjoyed a paddle in the River Dee in the shallows and Connie came in for a quick dash into the water and out hoping Ben would chase her. She was so quick I didn't get chance to take her photo. All Ben really wanted was me to throw a stick, but there weren't any about.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To The Top Of Castell Dinas Bran

Castell Dinas Bran in sight
Yes I remembered about the clocks going back, up bright and early for a walk before lunch. Liz was game for a walk up Castell Dinas Bran so off we went with the dogs, past the school, through a field with some sheep, up a lane and along the track leading to the  large green area you can see in the photo.

Getting closer!

Nearly there!

We made it!
Every year we make this climb at least once, usually a slow process as we follow the zig-zag path up the hill.  Connie went walkabout with her nose on some scent or other, but she came back eventually when she was called.  Ben was more interested in a man and his ball playing with his dog and tried to join in the game. Ben knocked me over by running into the back of my legs but it was landing on springy grass so no harm done.

Back down the hill for a quick shower and a change of clothes as we were having lunch at 'The Bridge Inn' with Liz, Nick, Maggie and Bernie. It was very nice too, as always the Sunday roast is highly me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back In Llangollen

Trevor Rocks
Yesterday the last bit of our cruise was completed, I walked ahead with Ben to check if other boats were coming through the narrows and rang Eric to let him know. Plenty of room on the moorings and soon we were moored up on the wharf at Llangollen. Shortly afterwards along came Liz and Connie followed by NB Henry. NB Blue Diamond are here now too, so we're all settled  ready for whatever the weather throws at us.

This morning Liz and I set off with the dogs to do a circular walk around the base of the hill on which Castell Dinas Bran sits,  giving us great views of Trevor Rocks. After seven months of fairly level walks the climb up wasn't speedy, but the dogs enjoyed the freedom until we came across some sheep.  The rest of the walk was down hill along a country lane leading back to Llangollen Wharf. We were lucky we missed the rain.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Over The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Waiting to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Yes it did rain yesterday, but we donned the waterproofs and continued heading towards our winter home. We parted company with Liz and Nick after the Fron Lift Bridge as they needed water and continued on ahead across the aqueduct to get the diesel tank topped up. We had to wait for a boat to come across before it was our turn. It was coffee time at Anglowelsh so by the time we had refuelled NB Henry had caught us up. They were having pump out  as well as diesel and planning to stay at Trevor, so we continued on our way and stopped at Sun Trevor. Not the quietest of places but convenient for Eric to get his eye checked out at Maelor. He tried to get an appointment at the doctors in Llangollen but the earliest was in ten days time. Not really good enough when you are in pain and it's possibly a recurrence of  uveitus which needs immediate treatment.

Already moored here is NB Blue Diamond on their way to their winter moorings too. A little later NB Henry came and moored up in front of us, they'd changed their minds about staying at Trevor. The towpath from Trevor to Llangollen is now that grey gritty stuff which is better than thick mud.It does mean that the number of places to moor has been reduced as you can't really hammer pins into this surface. Luckily at Sun Trevor there's rings.

Eric was quickly back from Maelor Hospital in Wrexham after a thorough examination of the offending eye by several doctors. They diagnosed an infection and a course of antibiotics so that's good news as uveitis takes weeks to treat.

In the evening we all had a boaters reunion at the nearby Sun Trevor with lots to talk about as we'd all spent the  summer cruising. We'll be doing a little cruising today as it's ever so noisy on this mooring it's so close to the road.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Tunnels, One Aqueduct , Moored Near Pentre

Yesterday after a change of plan we left New Marton, Liz and I walking the dogs and the men on the boats. We decided to have lunch at Poacher's Pocket and then carry on to just past Whitehouses Tunnel. We needed to get to Trevor before Anglowelsh's busy Friday for fuel and a pumpout for NB Henry. On the way we also need water as if the tanks are full then it's an easier trip to Llangollen as the boat is more level in the shallower water.

Progress for the boats was comparatively slow as there was a steady stream of hireboats coming towards them which meant lots of waiting at bridge holes. Plenty of room at Poacher's Pocket but the walkers arrived first followed by NB Bendigedig and later NB Henry and Nick who had come across a man in his undies in the canal trying to find a lost hammer.......brr it's cold! Out came the magnet and a very happy German family had their hammer back.

We had a lovely lunch and Liz and I continued our walk with the dogs blaming the puddings for our need to walk off the calories. I had a tuck shop specials with three different chocolate treats......highly recommended as was the chicken tikka. We walked over the Chirk Aqueduct to find a queue waiting unsure whether anyone was in the tunnel.We could the shape of a boat and worked out it was going through away from us so we walked through the tunnel to see what was going on at the other end. 

Finally through out came NB Bendigedig and a little later the deeper drafted NB Henry.  A boat had found it's way across the canal as the pins had come out and an elderly couple (older  than us!)were struggling to get it in so Eric came to the rescue and nudged it over so Liz could get the centre rope and then we managed to pull it back in just  as the young couple who owned the boat came back. They'd left their boat with parents to go shopping in Chirk but the pins had come out with all the boat traffic.

One more tunnel, no queues this time and we moored up for the night. We couldn't get satellite TV so out came the fish aerial  which found lots of channels but BBC wasn't very strong.  We're never sure which way to point it unless you can a house with an aerial nearby, so we could do with a signal finder similar to the one we have for the satellite signal. We did manage to see the weather forecast although the audio was useless, so we know it's rain today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ellesmere To New Marton Locks

NB Bendigedig in the mist
Yesterday we met up with NB Henry and set off on our travels.Despite the weather forecast it was not too windy and unpleasant.  Liz and I walked the dogs as far as Frankton Junction (about three miles) while the men played dodgems with all the hireboats at the bridge holes. Eric and I stopped at Maestermyn to arrange boat blacking for April as well as new anodes. We're also changing the propeller back to it's correct size after having a smaller one fitted when last in the dry dock purely because we couldn't get the correct size in the time we were there. Eric noticed the  loss of power and it also affected how quickly the boat stopped.

We caught up with Nick, Liz and Connie above New Marton Locks and moored behind them. This time Nick's down the engine hole servicing the engine which Liz and I have a cuppa and a natter......after all we've got seven months to catch up on!

This morning the boat felt cold as the fire had gone out, so on with the heating before we got out of bed. The fire was soon re lit. It looks cold outside too with the mist  hanging next to the ground, but it seems to be lifting as blue skies are appearing. Today we're not going far, a meal at Poacher's Pocket is planned for this evening and lots more chatting.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back Up The Frankton Locks, Back To Ellesmere

We spent last night moored on the Weston Arm. Eric reversed in which was good as when we got up the wind was really bad and it was difficult to get across to the waterpoint. I pulled her across with the help of another boater and Eric filled up before heading up to the bottom of the locks. We booked our passage for Monday so up the locks we came at midday, battling against the wind. The lock keeper crossed us off his list!

We decided to take a right turn back to Ellesmere to stop on the Arm so I could get some bread, milk, and fruit. Lots of boats about battling with the wind too as it's half term. We moored at the end of the Ellesmere Arm and I went to get the shopping  in Tesco so  now we're  ready to go to Llangollen, it just depends on the weather whether we move tomorrow.

NB Henry with Liz, Nick and Connie is moored at the Junction on their way to Llangollen too. They came onboard for a cuppa and a chat. Ben was a pain as he didn't want to share his boat with another dog......even if it was Connie!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Montgomery Canal Restoration

Looking back at the winding hole (last at the moment!)
The canal sides with growing vegetation.
Looking back at bridge 83
Looking towards Bridge 84
Looking back at Bridge 85 at Crickheath Wharf
Looking towards the stile after Bridge 85
A stile across the canal route
The pictures tell the story of the restoration in progress on the Montgomery Canal being carried out by the Shropshire Union Canal Society and the Waterways Recovery Group working on separate parts of the restoration. We'd moved from Aston Locks to Maesbury Marsh as I wanted to walk along the canal to have a look at how the restoration is getting on.

Ben and I walked along the section which is at present in water but unnavigable to give the vegetation time to grow and of course as there's no winding hole yet boats wouldn't be able to turn around anyway. I can see the progress made since we last came down with sections of canal sides and floor in place.  The canal is beginning to take shape in sections which were filled with tree roots near Bridge 85.  After that bridge the route was crossed by  a posh stile with a slide so dogs didn't have to jump it, of course Ben chose to jump clean over it rather than go through the hole when the slide was lifted! The cows had access to the route so it was time to turn around and retrace our steps back to the boat.

Back on the boat Eric was feeling much better and decided to service the engine with new filters and oil changes. He's currently busy in the engine hole......time to make him a cuppa!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reflections On The Monty

A swan at the Aston Nature Reserve
Today Ben and I left Eric on NB Bendigedig and went for a walk on the Aston Nature Reserve. He's full of cold at the moment. We saw pheasants and rabbits, walked on carpets of acorns and tracked through wet grass and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Ben waited while I took the photo of the solitary  swan with the water so still, it had a reflection.

Come on.....I'm waiting for you!

We walked back along the canal towpath to the boat, Ben got there first and posed for a photo by the boat. Staying put today enjoying the sun streaming through the's a pity Eric's nose is streaming too!

NB Bendi and Ben

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Down The Montgomery Canal

Looking up the Frankton Locks
We'd booked a passage down Frankton Locks for today so as we wouldn't be moving until about 12 o'clock Ben and I went for  a walk down the locks. We only got as far as Graham Palmer Lock before Ben decided he wasn't going any further. I sat at a picnic bench and phoned by dad for a chat while Ben waited by the lock. We got back to the boat just before the rain came down. About 11.30am the lock keeper was ready for us to go down the staircase locks. Colin the usual lock keeper is not well so he's not working at the moment.......I hope he gets well soon.

Going down the first lock of the staircase pair
We were soon down the four locks and we continued on our way to the Graham Palmer Lock and worked through it. Continuing on our travels we spotted a familiar boat coming towards us in the form of NB Blue Diamond with Bernie and Maggie on board. A little later we met NB Liberty Belle with Angela and Trevor onboard and I managed to get a photograph.

Angela and Trevor

We cruised as far as Aston Locks and moored up after the first lock. It's been a cold day today so the fire was soon lit to dry off our wet coats. We've had sunshine and heavy rain with some lovely rainbows and it's lovely and peaceful down on the Monty.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On The Move.......To Frankton Junction

The Ellesmere Arm

Today we decided it was about time we had a change of scenery. First of all I took Ben for his last walk around the Nature Reserve woods, passing NB Liberty Belle and NB Blue Diamond near the waterpoint.  After that we walked down to the Mere and back along the Ellesmere Arm to the boat which was moored near the oak trees just around the corner from Ellesmere. Then we untied the ropes and headed for the BW Services before a trip down the Ellesmere Arm to get some big bags of dog food while Tesco was next to the canal.  We had some lunch and then set off while the sun was still shining. It was cold in the wind so Eric was well wrapped up steering the boat, even the gloves have come back out.

Cruising towards Frankton Junction
As we got a little nearer Frankton Junction Ben and I got off for a walk, it was actually warmer walking and Ben enjoyed sniffing (and peeing on) everything in sight. He also had the compulsory paddle when he found a spot with soft sides. We crossed the bridge before the junction and walked to the visitor moorings. Eric turned the corner and moored up in a space, there was only one other boat facing the other way. We've booked to go down the locks tomorrow, so I'll get my change of scenery.

Moored above Frankton Locks

Monday, October 17, 2011

We Have A Winter Mooring In Llangollen

Well the Winter Mooring Launch finally happened at half past three and I succeeded in getting a mooring at Llangollen within the designated time limit. Shorty afterwards the search engine  disappeared because of a problem, but it did come back later on. You had to print off mooring licences for display but at least this year you could choose your months and pay by card or direct debit. Last year we had to book it online, print off a form to fill  in and then send it with a cheque. I'm happy to have a winter mooring as we don't want to have to cruise in the winter, and Llangollen is one of our favourite places.

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Email From BW

Last night we moored at Grindley Brook and tried not to moor under a tree but one branch was overhanging so we had acorns dropping on the boat roof for starters. Next the cows made loud moos in the middle of the night. We'd already decided to turn around at the top of the locks and head back for Ellesmere where we knew we could get a good signal for the Winter Moorings Online Launch.

At 16.57 this afternoon we had an email from BW (BW Moorings & Enforcement Teams)  basically asking if their records are correct in that we don't have a home mooring and if we do would we tell them so they can update their records.  If included information on the new  guidelines for boaters without a home mooring.......nothing much has changed really, just clarifying  'bona fide navigator'. Narrowboat World has the details on their site. 

Then it told us about the winter moorings launch on Monday 17th October  around if we didn't know! Oh for the good old days when a phone call to Diane at Northwich meant our winter mooring was arranged much earlier in the year. It was nice to have someone to talk to rather than this system where we book it online just three weeks before the stoppages start and hope we can go where we want. Doesn't give anyone any time to make alternative arrangements.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Waste Of Time And Energy On The Prees Branch

On the Prees Branch

Going through the first lift bridge

Today we headed off down the Prees Branch, me on foot with Ben the dog and Eric steering the boat. At the end of the branch is Whixall Marina and it meant lifting and closing two lift bridges to get there. Some good news in that the second lift bridge is now geared and I didn't have to dangle on a chain to open and shut it!  On the way the signs advertise opening hours and the cost of fuel, much better than at Ellesmere BUT when we arrived the shop was shut and the diesel machine was broken!

Apparently it's now winter in Whixall and the shop is now open an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon and closed on Sunday and this Thursday. What a waste of time and energy, surely someone could have changed the signs and informed boaters there was no fuel! From what a boater said it's not likely there'll be fuel for a while as there's an ongoing dispute.

So our plans changed and we headed for Viking Afloat at Whitchurch Marina where  the fuel was £0.99/£1.49  for domestic/propulsion compared to £1.10/£1.60 in Blackwater. It would have been cheaper at Whixall where the fuel was £0.89/ £1.39 but no good if the pump isn't working.

It did mean that I had to lift five more lift bridges but it was nice to be on the move. There was no room on the Whitchurch Arm so we carried on to moor above Grindley Brook knowing we could get a satellite signal and and the dongle worked there too. A Virgin hot air balloon came over so Ben is on the bed out of the asleep!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Walk In Wales- Whixall Moss

Ben and I in Wales
A little bit of Wales, looking at Whixall Moss
Ben found a very big stick!
Today we had a lovely cruise as far as Whixall Moss, the weather was kind to us with just some light rain showers and no wind. Eric and I took Ben for a walk in Whixall Moss which straddles the English/Welsh border, so we decided to follow part of the purple trail which took us into Wales. I say part of the trail as we couldn't complete it due to a sign on the section along the old tram line which said it was closed due to engineering work. At the entrances to the Mosses there are boxes with a leaflet all about the Nature Reserve which made interesting reading as well as including a map showing the trails. Ben found a very big stick too!

A Fox Moth Larva
Eric took the photos today and he spotted this larva in the grass, according to the leaflet it's a Fox Moth larva - not that I know anything about moths- I'll have to google it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eric's Back On Narrowboat Bendigedig

I have had a very quiet few days without my other half. Yesterday NB Ami Bovard (am I bothered!) moored next to us and we did have a lovely chat. They tapped on the window to apologise for having to run their engine, but inside the boat you couldn't hear it. As they are continuous cruisers we had plenty to talk about as the dogs sniffed each other. We continued our chat as the dogs watered the hedges when I let Ben out first thing in the morning.

Paul of Waterways Routes stopped to chat as he spotted NB Bendigedig. He was cycling from Ellesmere to Chirk researching the route for his new maps of the Llangollen Canal. Apparently you can download the Droitwich ones for free to try them out.

Eric arrived back on the bus from Shrewsbury and I met him outside Tesco as I had some shopping today before our trip to Whixall to get some fuel. The price of fuel at Blackwater Meadow Marina  is steep and we fancy a cruise anyway. So tomorrow we'll do the water, cassettes and get rid of the rubbish and we'll be on our way. I'm sure Ben will enjoy a different walk as we walk with the boat.

Eric's had his stitches out and the good news is the lump was benign.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

A Cruise To Blakemere To Turn Around

Near Blakemere
Today we needed to use the BW Services but we were pointing in the wrong direction so we had a cruise past Blakemere to the nearest winding point. Ben and I walked and on the way Ben had a paddle and I threw sticks for him to get. He looks evil as the flash caught his eyes! We also heard the sound of guns and passed a shoot in the field by the canal. At this point Ben was walking by me with his tail down, he doesn't like that noise!

Ben in Blakemere

No problem at the turning circle as it's not windy today and then we headed back to Ellesmere to use the services and then moor up near Ellesmere as Eric is off to Newport on Monday to get his stitches taken out. No crashing in the tunnel today and I took a photo as the boat as Eric came out with his light still on.

Ellesmere Tunnel
We walked back along the towpath and got back on the boat by Blackwater Meadow Marina to go to the services. Ben had a play with another dog at the services until he had to go with his crew. The water tap is incredibly slow so it's just as well it was only a top up after doing some washing. Finally full we moored a little further by the oak tree, moored by a grassy towpath rather than the gritty surface which seems to find its way into the boat.

Ben waiting for me to catch up!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

No Longer Home Alone

On Tuesday Eric came back minus his lump and complete with stitches which means he's off on his travels again next week to have them taken out. We met him off the bus and Ben was delighted to see him and so was I! It means my ball throwing arm gets a rest. I always find it very quiet without my other half, it's just that bit too quiet.

On Wednesday I took Ben out for a nice long walk and he then stayed on the boat while Eric and I  had lunch out in The Black Lion. It  made a pleasant change followed by a lazy afternoon. We just don't feel like going far until we know what's happening with winter moorings. The October 5th launch has now been delayed until the 17th - just three weeks before the stoppages start.

Today we've moved ourselves as far as the BW services to fill and empty things and get rid of a weeks rubbish. The wind is very strong so we didn't attempt a turn around but decided to moor up by the footpath to the Nature Reserve. The Ellesmere Arm is a bit of a no go area unless you want to listen to the noise of  a giant drill breaking up the concrete which was the base of the previous buildings and bulldozers moving earth around with lots of dust. Lots of noisy activity which can't be heard where we're moored.

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Woodland Walk In Ellesmere

Ben and his big stick
Today Ben and I went for a walk along the Mere Woodland Walk and we had a good time crunching through Autumn leaves in the sunshine. Ben found a big stick which he carried around for a while. There were loads of conkers around, don't kids collect them anymore. I know they can't play conkers in school yards anymore- health and safety gone mad!

A Sculpture in the wood
We came across these steps leading through the trunk of a tree and down some steps the other unusual sculpture. A sign said sculpture by water, more to come.

Another view of the sculpture

We walked past all the wild life on the side of the lake and spotted the steamboat Lady Katherine moored on the lake. She can only be reached by boat so she's quite safe.

Lady Katherine
From the Mere we walked through Castlefields and on through the Nature Reserve back to the canal. It's a lovely day although the wind maybe causing a few problems for boaters on the canal. Lots of boats going past the boat shouting hello and waving during the day but I find it quiet in the evenings with just Ben for company. Lots of chats with Eric of course on the mobile phone and he should be back tomorrow.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Just A Short Cruise To The Otherside Of Ellesmere

The need to fill and empty things made us move down past the Ellesmere Arm to the BW Services. We did a load of washing on the way and it was soon dry in the heat. We didn't want to go far as Eric has to go to Newport to have a cyst removed on Monday and there's a bus service from Ellesmere to Shrewsbury. He planned to go Sunday but there are no buses so he's gone today instead.

Not much going on here other than dog walking and food shopping. Castlefields now has cattle in but it's such a big field they're usually a long way away from the footpath. Of course we've been walking in Ben's favourite place, the Nature Reserve Woods.  Shopping at Ellesmere is a  really convenient place to stock up on the heavy items when you can moor outside Tesco. The Ellesmere Arm is full of boats and lots of people are enjoying the sunshine, which is highly unusual for the 1st of October.

Still loads of hire boaters about and we've already been hit by a Viking Afloat. All the crew said was oops! Sorry would have been better. I wonder how many boats they've hit since Whitchurch! I hasten to say there was loads of room and there wasn't a boat coming towards them.