Thursday, 30 July 2009

Pennington Flash

Tuesday 28th July

After shopping in Lymm we set off. The forecast for Wednesday was not good so we thought we would get as far as possible so we could hole up on Wednesday!!!! In the event it began to rain as we left and rained on and off all much for the BBQ summer. Eventually moored at Astley. Not a brilliant mooring but we had had enough.

Wednesday 29th July

Short hop to Pennington Flash before the rain set in again. We stopped briefly in Leigh to buy the paper and then found ourselves a lovely mooring with a view of the flash and lots of lovely walks for dogs. Rain again but it cleared sufficiently late afternoon for Geoff and Barney to go for a long walk.
Our secluded mooring, no other boats

Pennington Flash before the rain came back

Pennington Flash in the rain
Wednesday night was not good. We had huge thunderstorms and torrential rain.

Thursday 30th July

We had always planned for this to be a layover day. We had visions of the sun shining so we could really enjoy this mooring.......what a was still raining at 11am. By then it was clearing sufficiently for Barney & I to go for a walk and Geoff to walk back to Leigh for a few provisions and the paper. Later in the afternoon I also had to do the walk as my USB extension cable had given up the ghost. This is an essential part of my computer kit as it allows me to put the modem where I can receive a signal whilst playing with my computer in a more comfortable spot.
We are not planning to go far tomorrow as we are marking time until our booking on the Ribble Link on 6th August.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Saturday 25th-Monday 27th July

Moved on early on Saturday and reached Lymm about 9.30am. We were incredibly lucky with a mooring right in the middle overlooking the town. Soon after we arrived boats came from both directions and it stayed busy all day. Admittedly it was a lovely day, but we were very glad we had arrived early. It is a pretty town with quite good shopping facilities. I even managed to have my hair cut on Saturday afternoon. The mooring notices were different from usual. The Manchester Ship Canal is not far away but I thought we were on the Bridgewater!

Barnaby likes to make himself at home on the towpath!

Geoff's inspection in the weed hatch had revealed that we had bent on of the bits on the prop when we went past the BW working. However apart from a slightly different sound from the engine, especially in reverse(at least I think it sounds different!) it does not seem to have affected our propulsion. We are hoping that we can leave a repair (or replacement)until the winter when she has to come out of the water anyway to have her bottom blacked.

Sunday was a different picture altogether as the rain was back. Luckily we had managed to purchase two new large umbrellas. We had each recently lost the original two. We climbed the hill to the church, a large Victorian structure, where the choir and organ were very good but incredibly loud. It was their organists last day and I think he wanted to go out with a bang!

Before the service the Vicar made an announcement...apparently it had been decided by their Bishop that due to Swine Flu communion would only be given in one kind, the bread, to avoid spreading germs. I am not sure on that basis that we should have been sharing the peace and shaking everyone's hand..............

So nice here we decided to stay over a day. The picture below was taken on our walk on Saturday (while the sun sill shone and we managed 3 geocaches. I have never seen a Labrador on a weather vane before.

Tomorrow we shall move on...getting closer to Manchester now. We shall not be going in this year but turning left for Wigan, a little further up

Friday, 24 July 2009

Anderton and Stockton Heath

Wednesday/Thursday 22nd/23rd July
Two years ago when we came this way we could not find a mooring at Anderton. This time we were much luckier and found a very pleasant spot just before the entrance to the lift. We were still undecided as to whether we would go down onto the Weaver or not. After some deliberation (on Geoff's part) we decided against it, partly because the weather is still somewhat unsettled and partly on time. We may do it on the way back.

We went to have a look at it again and marvelled at it's ingenuity. It is quite an edifice.

The mooring was so pleasant and there were lots of woodland walks so we decided to stay over a day. The weather was alternatively hot sunshine and heavy showers, but during a dry spell I managed to touch up the black on one side of Petroc. We also managed 4 geocahes in the nearby woodland.
The Moorings Restaurant in Anderton Marina were offering a two course early bird dinner for £10 so we thought we would treat ourselves.......needless to say we were seduced by other things on the menu so we paid somewhat more...however it was very reasonably priced and very good food. Thoroughly recommended.
The picture below was taken from the restaurant window! (Click to enlarge)
Whilst we were there we met up with Owen on Guilt Free Indulgence whom we had last seen in 2008 on the Kennet & Avon.
Friday 24th July
Another of those early starts as we wanted to get to Stockton Heath to do some shopping. This was a 3 tunnel day, not to my liking at all. Barnton Tunnel, Saltersford Tunnel and Preston Brook. Both Saltersford and Preston Brook are time controlled in each direction, and we had to wait at both, so it made for a longer trip than anticipated. However we made Stockton Heath before lunch and set off to shop. We had not stopped here before and we pleasantly surprised. It was much more up market than we had thought and really very pleasant.
We shall stay the night and carry on to Lymm for the weekend. We have stayed there before so we know there is a church and pub.

We came aross working boats which held us up for a while, also we are not sure whether we hit something on the bottom. Geoff has to have a poke around down the weed hatch later his delight.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Hurlesden to Middlewich and Trent & Mersey

Saturday 18th July

Early at the Hurlesdon Locks so no hold ups and we left the Llangollen behind. It had been a well worth while trip. A short bit back on the Shroppie until the turn onto the Middlewich. It is a very tight turn and inevitably there was not one but two boats coming out!!! Sod's law.

Our goal for the night was Church Minshull as the book indicated a church and a pub for Sunday.

As we approached we saw a brilliant mooring spot but could not get close enough because of the ledge (it was a designated 48 hour mooring) We managed to moor round the corner but it was not nearly as nice and the aroma was very rural.......

However Geoff set off to investigate for the morrow. he came back a disappointed man, as the pub was shut for renovations! We decided to find a better smelling location and eventually moored beyond bridge 21 which was much better.

Sunday 19th July

Set off about 8 to finish the journey to Middlewich where we were sure to find a pub for lunch.
We had managed to book Boe a train ticket for Sunday afternoon from Crewe so now we also organised a taxi to get her there. Found a congenial mooring opposite some houses just above the last lock on the Middlewich (or the first, depending which way you are going). We had had a good run up in the clear but but now the rain was back. Geoff went to suss out the pubs and came back to say that the Top Lock Pub was the closest and would be fine.............I have to say that when we entered it later both Boe and I were not inclined to agree with him! Still it was raining by then and we had no wish to go further afield and the taxi was organised to collect Boe from there. Despite the surroundings the roast lunch was very good and for £5.95 we could not complain.

En route to the pub we met these obviously very recently hatched ducklings
Monday 20th July

Set off just after 7.30 to get through the Middlewich Locks before the rush started. We watered and shopped below the locks and proceeded on our way with no fixed destination in mind. After a couple of hours gentle cruising we came to a part of the canal where there are "flashes". These are where the canal widens considerably albeit too shallow for us to venture into.

We decided on impulse to stop by one and the bank was hospitable. The sun was shining, so it was chair on the towpath, the morning's wash on the clothes horse ... perfect! For about 2 hours we had the place to ourselves. Later in the day a few other boats moored but none right on top of us.

View from Petroc's mooring

Later in the evening we saw the boat below approaching billowing smoke.

A boat approaching from the other direction evidently thought as we did that things were not well and decided to give him a wide berth.

However when the boat went past us it was still smoking from the well of the foredeck and about 8 youngish people were all at the rear of the boat completely unconcerned. We can only surmise that they had a BBQ going with no one tending it which seemed a little foolhardy.
This was our sunset

Tuesday 21st

The forecast for Tuesdaywas not good so we decided if we were to be rained on...again...that we might as well be in a pleasant place so we decided to stay over a day. The rain came as promised but Geoff managed a walk with a Geocache find in the morning and stayed reasonably dry.
I walked Barnaby after his tea and was not so lucky and came back drenched!

Todays sky with a rainbow

Friday, 17 July 2009

Whitchurch to Hurlesdon (nearly)

Wednesday 15th (cont'd)
Whilst Geoff was off exploring Whitchurch for shopping possibilities Boe phoned and said could she join us for a few days. She has just completed her 1 year PGCE course and managed to obtain a job teaching in a school in Bayswater. It has been a very intensive course and I think she felt in need of a few days R&R. To cut a long story short she caught a train to Whitchurch that evening. Prior to her arrival we did a Tesco shop. Not the easiest in the world as it was a fair stride and despite taking the wheelie trolley as well as rucksack it was tiring. We needed a few heavy items and since the psychedelic shopping trolley was far too heavy for my back Geoff had to wheel it back through town!!
After supper Geoff went to meet Boe. Inevitably her train from London was late so she missed her connection at Crewe..........consequently they did not arrive at Petroc until after 11pm. However it was lovely to see her.

Thursday 16th July
Off reasonably early, leaving Boe in bed! However she did surface later when we reached Grindley Brook Locks. She then walked with Geoff & Barnaby helping through some of the next locks. Eventually found ourselves a nice secluded mooring close to Marbury and the sun was shining...what more could one ask for........
Since we had always planned to treat ourselves to a meal in the Swan at Marbury Geoff set off to check it out.....the recommendation was from our guide book. It also said Marbury was an extremely pretty village.

Marbury Church

View from Marbury Churchyard (one of the nicest churchyards Geoff had seen)

Inside Marbury Church (preparing for their Flower Festival)

Whilst he was gone Boe and I did a spot of relaxing
Geoff arrived back and reported favourably on the pub and had booked for 7pm. As it turned out soon after his return the sun disappeared and the rain returned. Batten down the hatches.
The rain continued all evening and we had a very wet walk up to the village, however the meal was good so it was worth it...I think.....
Friday 17th July
Set off about 8.30 (late for us) but we needed the post office in Wrenbury which was only 2 miles away. Soon after leaving Wrenbury the rain was back and Geoffrey was heard to remark that this was no fun!! We had been considering stopping anyway but when we reached the top of Baddeley locks we spied Sweet September with Alan & Gillian aboard(we share the same boatbuilder). So we moored up and went aboard for coffee and a catch up which was lovely. (They are going in the opposite direction to us). It would have been nice to linger longer but it would have made a very long run for Saturday. The goal is Church Minshull on the Middlewich Arm. The book says there is a church and a pub there for Sunday.

Happy Geoff just before we paused
We carried on to Swanley Bridge marina for fuel and to collect mail. The rain had stopped briefly but was soon back. So when we set off from there we moored in the first convenient looking spot which was just after bridge 6. We are nicely placed for an early start to go through the Hurlesdon Locks and off the Llangollen. As I write this the rain is still pouring down outside....but I don't care now as I am warm and dry below!!!!!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Llangollen to Whitchurch

Monday 13th July

We left Llangollen before 7 (we weren't the first, someone had left at 0545!) Our idea was to get through the one way narrows before there was much chance of traffic coming the other way. We were successful in this. The views along the route are stunning but we were unable to catch them on camera to do them justice. The canal seems to run along a ridge, so in the foreground you are up above but further away you have all the green hills....fantastic. There are lots of isolated houses nestling in the trees which must be quite bleak in the winter.

We passed a lonely walker on the towpath

The arm at Trevor just before the Aqueduct with all the hire boats.

This is the entrance to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. If you enlarge the picture you can see the railings on the right stopping and then just a very low wall. This was why I had been unable to steer coming over as I was standing on that side with the sheer drop. However I was determined to do it the other way. I studiously kept my eyes on the towpath. I did venture a quick look a couple of times to the right but quickly had to look away again.....what a coward.....
However I managed it, albeit with collywobbles in my stomach.
The view below was taken by brave Geoff!!!

Not long after Pontcysyllte we came to Chirk Tunnel where we found a traffic jam! It is a one way tunnel but you can see the other end quite easily. No boats in but as we approached a walker appeared out of the tunnel saying he had been sent to stop any boats coming through. It seemed there was a crowd waiting to come through and there was no more room for any to wait at the other end. We duly waited for 5 boats to come through and then Geoff took us through......I still don't do tunnels. The Chirk Aqueduct is just after the tunnel and the boat queue for the tunnel had built up again but we were just able to squeeze past the last one and onto the aqueduct. Apart from the fact that this is shorter than the Pontcysyllte there is a broad wall on the non towpath side so you don't look vertically no problems here. We carried on and moored just below the new Marton Locks. Thankfully the rain held off, these were the locks we got drenched as we went through on the way up.
Tuesday 14th July
Another early morning! However the forecast keeps saying rain in the afternoon so it seems a good idea....
Stopped in Ellesmere to shop and water and then on the way again to moor at The Barn which is a small canal shop and pleasant very quiet moorings. In the evening Geoff and Barney strolled up to the Waggonners Inn at Platt Lane, the next bridge, only to discover that it had shut!!!!
These long days and early starts are too much
Wednesday 15th July

A very lazy start today, we didn't leave until 0930. We were only planning to go as far as Whitchurch. We waited for the shop to open as we needed eggs and then had a gentle run up to the Whitchurch Arm. Weather is still variable and we got drenched in a sudden shower but as I write this the sun is shining again.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Weekend in Llangollen

Saturday 11th July
Well here we are in Eisteddfod land. We did not plan to be here for the International Eisteddfod and when we discovered it was on we nearly decided to give Llangollen a miss, but we are glad we didn't. It certainly felt like a bit of a flog getting here. The first hurdle was going over the Poncysyllte Aqueduct. Since I had had no problem steering over Chirk Aqueduct I imagined it would be the same only longer.........not so. Unlike the Chirk there is absolutely no barrier at all on the non-towpath side. Since this was on our left going over and that is the side to stand when steering I had to rapidly hand over to Geoff. I didn't expect to feel like that, after all we had been over it before on Hotel Boat Heather 5 years ago. I think it must have been that we were now in charge of the boat which we weren't then. On the other side there is an extremely sharp turn and the canal now gets much narrower and in places very shallow. There are two stretches where it is one way working and Geoff had to walk on ahead before I started off. However it was good fun, albeit it seemed as though we were struggling uphill all the time. We were well into the hills by now. Unfortunately the weather wasn't brilliant and the mist was hanging around.

The last one way stretch leads directly into the inline moorings where there are now electricity meters and the charge is £6 a night. (Electricity included) You have to go up and see the man in a hut who will give you a ticket for up to 48 hours. This is either for the towpath moorings or in the small marina a few minutes further on by the turning point. We elected for the marina as it is much lighter there. Contrary to our expectations there was plenty of room. I carefully reversed(without using the bowthrusters into a vacant berth, only to find when we were nearly in that the electricity connection was u/s in that berth!!!! So I had to go out and do the whole thing again.....

Once we were settled I took myself off to get if I could get tickets for the evening's concert which was the finals of the Pavarotti Trophy for choirs. I am glad we went but it was not quite what we expected. The first half was some Eastern European dancers who were superb but went on too long. The second half was the 5 choirs, 3 of them American. The music selection was somewhat esoteric to say the least. However we had a bit of a sing song whilst we waited for the judges to decide the winner.
Eisteddfodd Stage
The flower arrangement on the stage were fantastic.
The Marina and the turning point is as far as we can go, only the horse drawn trip boats venture further up the canal. However Geoff and Barnaby walked to the end to the Horseshoe Falls below.

The end of the Llangollen, another head of Navigation chalked up

If we had had another day Geoff would have liked to walk up to Castell Dinas Bran, or the remains thereof.
Sunday however was taken up by church in the morning where The Archbishop of Wales was preaching and the new Bishop of St Asaph was making his first visit to St Collen Church. Needless to say the church was very full and we sang all the hymns alternate verses in Welsh and English. After some shopping we went for our Sunday Lunch in one of the local hotels who were offering a carvery. It was a reasonable lunch but a very strange place, sort of antimacassar and old lace!!! Before hand we had a drink in the Cornmill pub which has beautiful views over the river.
You can also do the steam train ride up to the falls but since we had done that on our last visit we decided to give it a miss.
We are now sitting on Petroc waiting for the fireworks to start which mark the end of this years International Eisteddfod.

Friday, 10 July 2009


Friday 10th July
Geoff & Barnaby took an early morning walk over the Chirk Aqueduct and into town for the paper.
We set off just before 9 with the destination the arm at Trevor. We didn't want to leave too early as we were hoping some people would vacate spaces.

I steered over the aqueduct and briefly flirted with the idea of trying to steer in the tunnel. This is something I never do as I become completely disorientated. Luckily Geoff vetoed it as it was not a nice tunnel at all. It was very dry unlike some but it is one way traffic and because of the constant flow of water against us it creates a funnel effect which makes it quite difficult to keep off the sides. We have had this effect all the way on the Llangollen as we have gone through numerous bridges. Unlike most canals, the Llangollen serves a purpose as far as water is concerned. The reservoir at Hurlesdon Locks at the start of the canal stores water that had flowed down from the River Dee at Horseshoe Fall above Llangollen itself. From the reservoir it is treated and piped to the kitchen sinks in Crewe.....

This is the lifting bridge just before the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which was next on the agenda. However just around the corner we spied some moorings complete with rings which looked very pleasant so we decided to stop instead of going into the arm at Trevor. I made myself comfortable on the wide bank, put the washing out and settled down. Geoff went off with Barney to explore the surrounding area. On his return nearly two hours later he said we had failed to notice that these were private now I have a conscience. However we have decided to stay put and will move if asked.

Petroc (3rd Boat) moored Ffroncsysllte
The plot tomorrow is to carry on to Llangollen for the weekend. Despite the numerous boats it seems a shame not to go all the way now, beside which we need the BW facilities and they are the only close one!!

Back up the Montgomery

No internet for several days now so this is a catch up
Tuesday 7th July
We waited for the shop to open for the paper and set off just before 9 for the run back to the Frankton Locks. The run too just about 3 hours and we fully expected to have two boats in front of us as we had seen them go by before we left. Apart from that it was very quiet so we we surprised to see that we were 7th in line when we reached the locks. There is not a lot of waiting space so it was a bit of a juggle. It was two hours later that we were through the locks and turned left back onto the Llangollen. As we passed bridge 1 we were surprised to see familiar faces on a narrowboat called "Jam Today". Geoff shouted out..."Is that you Norman Tench" and since it obviously was we pulled in somewhat sooner than intended. They were on board with sister & brother-in-law. A pleasant hours visit with them whilst they came on board. They then had to carry on but we decided we had had enough for the day so stayed put. The canal was extremely busy with boats passing both ways. Much muttering from Geoff as to whether we would carry on to Llangollen or not..........

I too a walk up to Maestermyn marina to see if they had a gas lighter for the cooker as I was thoroughly fed up with using matches. They didn't but one of the assistants kindly told me he had bought one the other day for £1.50 in the Pound Shop in Ellesmere...where we had been a few days ago!! However I described the problem with our automatic sparker and they said their engineer could look at it if we came past the next day. Towpath not at all good around here but it was worth the trip.
Wednesday 8th July
Off at 0830 bound for Chirk. We stopped at Maestermyn marina and the engineer pronounced that it might just have been a loose connection and that we should try it for a while before resorting to a new sparker. They were extremely helpful in there and made no charge for their time.
Weather so-so with occasional showers the forecast said. The reality was somewhat different. The showers soon turned to persistent rain which was at it's heaviest as we were doing the 2 new Marton Locks. It was very unpleasant so as soon as we were through the locks we looked for a suitable place to moor and call it quits. The first two places we tried were too shallow....getting wetter all the time!........ but eventually we found a suitable place and went below to change and dry out. Later on the rain cleared and we found we were in a very pleasant spot so the rest of the day was an improvement. Still no Internet though.
Thursday 9th July
Made the short trip into Chirk that we should have completed yesterday and moored just before the Chirk Aqueduct. Geoff did his normal explore and came back to say shopping was on. Armed with rucksack and wheelie trolley we walked the 15 min trip into Chirk. A town well worth a visit. The church was very interesting and the town well kept and with adequate shops.
Our mooring was very congenial but a little lacking in sun. However we had geese on the opposite bank which appeared to fascinate Geoff who kept taking pictures of them!!

Monday, 6 July 2009

On the Montgomery

Saturday 4th July

This is Petroc in the queue at the top of Frankton Locks waiting to go down the Montgomery. Passage has to be pre-booked at least the day before and they only take 12 down and 12 up a day. They are only open between 12-2pm daily. We were 5th in line of 7 to go down and there were three coming up and since the lock keeper started early at 11.30 and we started down about 1.30, it is difficult to see how 12/12 could be achieved within the publicised times.

However I had a good enough signal to write the previous blog as we sat waiting and we then had an easy passage down, aided by the lock keeper for the first 2 locks which are a staircase.

Bottom of the staircase and two more to go

Mooring did not seem to be at a premium when we reached Maesbury Marsh just before the limit of navigation (7 miles), so we took what seemed like the only space behind an old looking boat just before the Navigation Inn. The good point about the mooring was that we had a good satellite picture as it was Ladies Finals, which we had missed but we were in time to see the Williams sisters win the ladies doubles. The bad point about the mooring was that the boat in front started his engine(or it might have been his generator) at 7.30PM which was very noisy and smelt foul, you could see the fumes coming out. Since I was cooking supper at the time I was not impressed but Geoffrey would not allow me to go and moan at the looked like a liveaboard who had been on these 48hr moorings a while!

The pub was a lovely one but a bit more expensive than we like for our Sunday Roast. In any event we were expecting several members of my family to visit on Sunday so we were planning to eat in the evening. The Navigation closes at 6pm on Sunday and does not reopen until 6pm Tuesday so that ruled it out anyway!

On Sunday morning we went to the church at Maesbury for the service at 1115. It was in very small but interesting church. It was constructed of corrugated iron which had apparently arrived as a flat pack 103 years ago. From the inside you could not tell it was corrugated iron and we had a very warm welcome. The singing was interesting as they had a group of youngsters who were called "God's Singing Servers" who not only assisted during the service but acted as Cantors in the psalms and responses.
Afterwards we repaired to the Navigation Inn for a pint(Well Geoff had the pint!) and then retired to Petroc for the Mens Finals.
The family all arrived about 4.45 when the match still was not settled so since some of them were interested we had our cup of tea still watching. Unfortunately we had booked supper back at the Queens Head for 6pm (a bit further back along the canal) so we could not watch the end of the match. We had a good meal and it was lovely to catch up with family again.
Monday morning we decided to move a bit further down to a better mooring which was now free. So we went to the end of the navigation, through the lifting bridge and turned.

Lifting Bridge at Maesbury

Limit of navigation
Turning at the end of the road

Once we were all settled again, Geoff and Barnaby set off to explore down the unnavigable stretch. I would have liked to accompany them but since they anticipated walking about 8 miles it seemed too far for me. My back has improved, I am off the painkillers and doing short walks, but being very careful as I do not want a repeat of my condition a few weeks ago......I'll build up my walks gradually.
The following pictures show how the restoration work is progressing

Lime Kilns at Pant, part of a huge complex that has to be restored

So now we are ready for the return trip tomorrow. There is a small Post Office/Cafe/Store just here who are very obliging and order the paper we want.