Sunday, 22 October 2017

Overwinter Cruise - Week 2

Sunday 15th October - Ellesmere

A very pleasant day and we decided to have an explore around the Mere with Toby.  He had great fun fetching sticks from the water and shaking himself over unsuspecting onlookers!

A view of Ellesmere Maintenance Yard with a reflection in the very still waters of the canal.

Monday 16th October - Ellesmere

Today we decided to stay put again as we wait for ex hurricane Ophelia as it passes through.  

Chamberlain Carrying Co. came through and moored up opposite us.  Excellent timing as our gas bottle had just run out so we bought our replacement from them.

Toby was not happy with the noise the wind was making and the banging of the boat against the side.  Poor Toby!

Tuesday 17th October - Ellesmere to Maesbury Marsh

Today we have learnt that the insurance company is going to pay for the repairs to the boat following our accident on Friday.  Excellent news!

We set off today after putting water on at the Maintenance Yard and made our way down the canal towards The Montgomery Canal.

Here we turned left and moored up at the top of the flight of locks at 11.30am.  We have to wait for the lock keepers to arrive as they operate the locks for us.

As the canal is a site of special scientific interest, the amount of boats allowed on the canal at any one time is restricted.  12 boats up and 12 boats down in a day.

The Frankton Locks consist of a staircase of 2 locks followed by 2 single locks.

Further along is another lock which has a short fall of about 18 inches inserted because of changes to the ground level since the canal was closed in 1936.

This lock is named after Graham Palmer who was the founder of The Waterway Recovery group which was instrumental in the restoration of the Canal.

Beside the Aston locks there is a lot of work being done and we wondered whether they were building a marina...

...but no, it is an Aquatic Habitats Restoration and Creation Project.  It is quite extensive and should be lovely when it has been finished.

Once we arrived at Maesbury Marsh, we pulled over and moored up.  We shall stay here for two nights and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Wednesday 18th October - Maesbury Marsh

Early Wednesday morning, the mists were rising from the canal, shrouding the boats and creating an eerie atmosphere.

Today we have decided to walk along the canal from Maesbury Marsh to Llanymynech Bridge which is the border between England and Wales.

I am carrying my new rucksack in training for our walk on the Cotswold Way in April.

Gronwen Wharf is the southern limit of navigation where boats need to wind and return back up the canal.

Further along we found where the canal is actually undergoing restoration, and is begining to look like a canal.

Here the next stretch has been cleared of vegetation and is ready for further work....

...and here the canal is waiting to be cleared.  It was very exciting to see how much work has been done on the restoration, but there is still a lot more work to do!

The lime kilns at Pant would have been at the base of the inclined plane from the quarry above, the lime would have been burnt in the kilns before being transported along the Montgomery Canal for use as fertiliser on the acid soil of North Shropshire and Cheshire.

This is the northern limit of the canal restoration of the middle section just before Llanymynech, we were very excited to see the canal again.

A little bit further up we found the bridge which marks the border between England and Wales and walked into Wales!!

On our return journey we found a field of alpacas, with all the natural shades of coat from black through to brown and then cream.  They are so pretty to look at!

Also on the towpath we found some warning notices saying that the towpath was uneven due to burrowing animals.

From the size of the burrows, they must have been pretty large burrowing animals, badgers possibly?

It was a lovely walk, very informative and interesting, 9.5 miles there and back and excellent training for next April!!

Thursday 19th October - Maesbury Marsh to Weston Arm

This morning we decided to move the boat back up the Montgomery Canal and moor up below the locks ready to go up them on Friday morning.

We had to continue along the canal through the lift bridge until we could wind at Gronwen Wharf.

On the way I met Richard on Mountbatten coming the other way, and although it doesn't look like it we didn't touch at all!!  Very impressed!

We continued on our way, but unfortunately the weather deteriorated dreadfully and the last hour was done in torrential rain.  Dave ended up soaked right through and even helping with the tying up of the boat meant that my jeans were also soaked through.  Our first real soaking of the trip so far!

We moored up at Weston Branch, an arm that went as far as Weston Lullingfields but which was closed in 1917 owing to a serious breach of the canal and never reopened.  It is a convenient mooring place before the Frankton Locks.

Friday 20th October - Weston Branch to Chirk Bank

The Frankton Locks open each day at 12 noon and are operated for 2 hours by Canal and River Trust Lock keepers.

Here we are lined up waiting for the locks to open, there was one boat in front and two boats behind us.  Four boats coming up and only one boat coming down which meant that the water levels in the pounds would become depleted.

Looking back down the locks at the other two boats making their way up behind us.

Chris, on the right of the photo, looks after these locks and can also be seen at Grindley Brook staircase locks.

He has a wonderful herb garden all the way down the locks and so long as you aren't greedy you can help yourself to any of the herbs for your cooking.  We used lovage and sage, quite delicious, thanks Chris!

Once up through the locks we turned left back onto the Llangollen Canal and headed towards Chirk Bank.

On the side of the canal we saw this boat upon blocks.  A work in progress? How did it get there?  How will it get back in the water?

We arrived at Chirk Bank and moored up for the next couple of days.  There is another storm, Storm Brian, forecast so we shall sit tight until it has blown over.

Saturday 21st October - Chirk Bank

We have had a lovely day cosy in the boat whilst the rain is beating down outside.  A quick sortie into the town to stock up on food - there is a wonderful butchers, bakers and greengrocers along with a Spar for groceries.  What more could you want?  

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