Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Llangollen or bust

Captains Log Canal Date 28h June 2010 Travels Miles 35 Locks 2 Narrow Lift Bridge 6 Current Location Poachers Pocket Near Chirk (Yes, yet another pub) OS Ref SJ 297 368 Well lots have happened since my last entry, One thing that has not changed is my ongoing problems with Vodafone, hence no recent updates! We have had visitors, and most welcome they are too. First of all Jim & Joan arrived. We set sail for Llangollen, over the now world heritage site of the Pontcysyllte aqueduct. This section of canal from Ellesmere to Llangollen continually changes, each turn shows new delights. It is just about the best so far, just when you think that it can not get any better, it just does! The Chirk aqueduct is just fantastic; its architecture and build quality is a joy to see. When you arrive at the Pontcysyllte aqueduct word just fail to describe the sight in front. The canal just floats in the sky as if by magic. On the starboard side there is only a piece of 200 year old 1 inch thick cast iron between you and certain death 120 foot below. The canal is over 100 yards long and supported on 19 stone pillars supporting a cast iron trough just wide enough for the boat. There are no handrails here, the do gooders from health & safety were not around when Mr. Telford built this masterpiece! It has been there for 200 years, will it last another 20 minutes? Once over the aqueduct it is a sharp left hander and then on to the end of the canal. It does get a bit narrow and shallow from here on. The guide book does say that it is not recommended for boats drawing more than 21 inches, mine is more like 28 inches! I did think that we had seen the best scenery but we to be proved wrong yet again. You leave the rolling hills and continue along the sides of the Dee valley. You are into mountain country now. They must have thought that it would be almost impossible to build a canal in such hilly country, but Telford believed that he could do anything, and he did. Long section of this part of the canal are just wide enough for one boat, so some one has to go in front and make sure that the path is clear, (Good old Jim) We made it to the end at Llangollen with just a bit of a relived sigh, we were dragging on the bottom in several places and in the narrows the concrete edges were removing the paint from the boat. After a day in Llangollen we set off back again. Even though we had just done this journey, it was just as interesting doing the return trip. Things look so different when approached from the other side. We eventually made back to the Poachers pocket for a well justified evening meal. Jim & Joan left us and the following day John & Lynn arrived. We liked the run to the Pontcysyllte aqueduct so much that we done it all again. It was still as spectacular. I wonder how many times I would have to do this before I would become bored with it? We stopped at Trevor basin (Just at the end of the aqueduct) to have a pub lunch, Apparently there was some sort of silly football game on that day and this pub was not showing it so it was nice and quiet in there. (Nice meal Thanks John & Lynne) The return trip, again, was just as good as it was the day before. I don’t think that I will ever tire of this spot. Now the upsetting bit, well for us anyway. We have an expensive combined satellite dish and solar panel; it has been doing odd things for a few weeks but always easy to sort out. Not this time, it just will not work. I need to contact them on the internet to sort things out. Slight problem – No bloody internet thanks to Mr. Vodafone. Eventually sorted out a phone number and now have to take it to Northampton. That is a long way from Llangollen by boat! One of the little problems that living on a boat can throw at you. Still I am sure that we can survive for a week or two without satellite television! Captains Log Canal Date 19h June 2010 Travels Miles 12.5 Locks 9 Narrow Lift Bridge 2 Current Location Bradley Green (2 miles north of Whitchurch) OS Ref SJ 534 450 It is almost unbelievable how much the weather can change in a day. Yesterday was hot and sunny, no clouds in sight, today it 100% cloud cover with light rain and very much cooler. We waited for the drizzle to stop before moving down the Welsh cut in search of an internet connection... I was not going to travel as far as yesterday. We set off after a light lunch, the canal traffic was lighter than I had expected, however most of the nicer mooring spots were already taken. We ended up at Bradeley Green, Right next to a nice country pub!! I shall try that out soon. Well a man has to do what a man has to do. John Wayne said that and I am not going to argue! There are some interesting place names around here, there is a small hill called “Bell o’th’Hill”, a bit further down the canal is a place called “Land of Canaan” and just behind us is “Willy Moor” That begs a question. Still no internet but at least the phones work here. Captains Log Canal Date 18th June 2010 Travels Miles 12.5 Locks 1 Wide 1 Wide Staircase 9 Narrow Lift Bridge 1 Current Location Wrenbury OS Ref SJ 592 480 We woke up to a perfect clear sky with the sun pumping out its heat towards us. Does this mean that we may have another summer this year? I do hope so. We decided that it would be a good day to travel, much better than the rain, so we set off with no particular destination in mind other than I wanted to get into the Welsh cut. On route, we had to pass through the last of the wide locks. These are fine when you share them with another boat, but when you are on your own you do tend to be blown about. The bollards are rather far back from the edges so it is not possible to hold the boat against the sides. Perhaps there is a technique that I have yet to learn. We travelled further than I expected, the weather was perfect and we both had a permanent smile on our faces. Every one we passed seamed to be as happy as us – even the fishermen! We reached the Hureston Junction (Start of the Llangollen canal) and headed up the flight of 4 narrow locks. Narrow being the watch word hear, there was less than 10mm clearance. This is the tightest lock I have yet passed through. There is plenty of paint on the sides of the lock to remind you! After an hour or so on the Llangollen I was starting to think about food. (Nothing unusual there) After a quick conference with the catering committee (Pam) it was decided that we should find a pub for the night, it has to be said that there was very little opposition to this decision. The closest we could see was at Wrenbury. It was a proper days boating, travelling for 7 ½ hours and not stopping for lunch – most out of character. I think that we both rather like our new life style. It is probably better than going to work every day! When we arrived, there was a long line of moored boats; however we did find a slot right outside the pub. What a result. With a full day’s travel and a good thirst we enjoyed our well deserved time in the pub. This is a nice spot but yet again I can not get internet and the phone signal is poor. Captains Log Canal Date 15th June 2010 Travels Miles 5 Locks 3 Current Location Beeston OS Ref SJ 465 362 The moorings at Milners Heath were a bit on the shallow side when we arrived. We were grounded on the tow path side and still about 2 foot out. It was OK until the level dropped overnight then we were at a bit of an angle, the cupboard doors would slam shut, and to walk the length of the boat without crashing into something was difficult. Excessive usage of both the TV & computer had given the batteries a bit of a bashing and it did not help when the vacuum cleaner was brought out. Time to move on to a new mooring and recharge the battery bank. We had no fixed idea of where we would end up, just looking for a pleasant spot where we can moor against the bank and still have some water under us. We ended up near the village of Beeston. Well it is a village of sorts apart from the fact that it does not have a pub, shop, or post office. It will do nicely for a day or two. We are back to the section of canal that made me believe that the internet was broken; well it was not, only the fact that there is no coverage around here. (Sorry Mr. Vodafone, Your dongle and SIM card may have been fine all the time, but thanks for the new one anyway) We have since found that there is not a TV or phone signal to be had inside the boat and a line of tall trees are successfully blocking the satellite. So it looks as if we may have to keep ourselves amused for a few days! On route we filled up the fuel tank, this is the first time since leaving Tardebigge in early March. 64 litres of diesel was all I could get in. That is about what I would use in My Discovery each week as long as I do not use it much. I can’t work it out into MPG as I would have to go through a lot of notes to find my total mileage but it is better that I expected. It proves that the bulk of the fuel is used in the heating & charging systems as I was using that much every 2 weeks over the winter and not moving anywhere.

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