Sunday, 26 February 2012


The weather here in Llangollen has been beautiful all weekend. I managed to get all the washing done and dried outside in the sunshine, which made a nice change from having to run the drier for hours. This morning Roger's been painting, touching up all the bumps and scrapes under the gunwales that we picked up over the winter. As the forecast is good again for tomorrow we'll turn the boat round and he can do the other side before we set off again.  The marina is still almost empty with only 4 other boats being moored here, one of which was here when we arrived and is unoccupied.

We went down into town to try and find somewhere for a roast dinner.  Having spoken to a local couple this morning, we tried 2 hotels they'd recommended but both had empty restaurants and their menus were very uninspiring with the meals sounding either "nuked or fried".  I wanted a proper roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. It's the only meal I don't cook on the boat as our oven just isn't big enough for a decent sized joint.  We'd been in the Cornmill pub a couple of years ago so tried there and had a lovely meal. Rare beef, crispy yorkshire pudding and plenty of veggies, just what I'd wanted. We didn't bother with pudding, instead we each had a large ice cream cone on the way back to the boat.

The sunshine had brought lots of tourists into town and many people were down by the river watching canoeists battling with the current and the rapids.  They were very entertaining but that water certainly looked cold!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Llangollen and Horse Shoe Falls

This morning we went down into Llangollen town.  It's quite a small town with a couple of good butchers, a deli, lots of cafes and pie shops and a small Spar supermarket which is really expensive. There are also several pubs and I'm hoping to find somewhere that does a good Sunday roast dinner so if anyone can recommend anywhere please let me know.

This is the view of the River Dee which runs through Llangollen taken from the centre of the bridge.

This is the view from the other side of the bridge.

Believe it or not, we've seen kids jumping from here into the river in the summer.  They would surely be killed if they tried it at the moment.

After lunch we took Chico for a walk to the Horseshoe Falls which is just under 2 miles from the marina.

This is a horseshoe shaped weir designed by Thomas Telford in 1806 to divert some of the water from the River Dee to supply the Llangollen Canal. The water then carries on down the canal for 26 miles to Hurleston Reservoir and the Shropshire Union Canal.

start of the Llangollen Canal, water is diverted from the
river through this pump house into the canal
The spring flowers continue to appear. Today we saw wild primroses, surely a sign that the weather is definitely getting warmer.

This derelict chain bridge spans the river at the Chain Bridge Hotel.  There's a sign on the gate saying that it's under major reconstruction. I think they've got a long way to go yet!

Arriving back at the marina (you can just make out the boats through the trees) you can see how beautiful the scenery is around here.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen

It’s been a beautiful day again today. Warm, bright and sunny, in fact perfect cruising weather.

Just as we were ready to set off this morning another boat came past and by the time we got to Whitehouse Tunnel another boat had caught us up, so for the first time this year we were travelling in a convoy.

queuing at the lift bridge

The first 50 feet into Whitehouse Tunnel was covered in spiders webs. I’ve never seen so many before and the spiders were pretty big too.

I’d been dreading going over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct as last time it was so windy it almost blew the flower pots off the roof and made the crossing so bumpy and scary I had to sit inside on the engine steps.  This time it was calm and there were lots of walkers crossing with us so I was OK and even managed to look out to take the photos. The views are beautiful but it’s a bloody long way down!!!

For those of you not familiar with this aqueduct here are the stats. It was built in 1805, is 1007 feet long and crosses the River Dee at the dizzy height of 126 feet. It holds 1.5 million litres of water and takes over 2 hours to drain. It’s the longest and highest cast-iron aqueduct in the world and is a Grade 1 listed building, a Welsh National Monument and is one of the seven wonders of the British Inland Waterways. It’s also a World Heritage Site.

Two sections of canal on the approach into Llangollen are too narrow for boats to pass so I walked on ahead to make sure nothing was coming, although as there are so few boats moving I'd have been very surprised it we had met anyone.

This is the view down into Llangollen town, taken from the boat as we went up to the basin. The River Dee looks quite turbulent, we'll go and have a closer look tomorrow.

There are several boats moored in Llangollen, most are showing winter mooring permits and are plugged into the electric points.  We carried on to moor in the basin and were surprised that there were only 2 other boats here.  One of them has since gone so now there’s only the 2 of us here. In the main cruising season it costs £6 a night to moor here, inclusive of electricity so maybe one reason there aren’t many boats here is because the electric hook-up points have all been switched off.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Whittington Castle

We've got the car with us at the moment so today we went for a drive out to Whittington Castle which is near Oswestry.

It's only a small castle and is being looked after by the local community rather than by the National Trust, so entrance is free and there aren't as many restrictions of access as at NT properties.

Later this afternoon we walked over Chirk Aqueduct and up to the tunnel. We also went into Chirk village which is about a 5 minute walk from the canal. It's a nice village with a good butchers, bakers, hairdressers, fancy goods shop and a Spar supermarket.  At the moment, the road through the village is being resurfaced and there were traffic restrictions and lots of large road laying wagons and it was all a bit chaotic. 

Monday, 20 February 2012


There's not a lot to tell you about today. It's been pretty over-cast and grey and we've only seen 3 other moving boats.  The only excitement was when we met a hire boat just as we were going through a bridge. He was coming round a bend in the canal so fast that he couldn't stop when he saw us and ended up ramming his boat into the towpath. Then, of course, he couldn't get the boat off the bank again so his wife came out to see what was going on and she was still in her fluffy pink pyjamas. I know it's a laid-back way of life but it was 4pm!!!

I've never seen so many snowdrops as there are up here. There are great swathes of them all over the place.

The daffodils are starting to appear too.

We're now moored at Chirk and will probably stay here for a couple of days.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


When we got up this morning everywhere was covered with a thin dusting of snow and although it's been a lovely sunny day it's been a bit parky too, never getting above 5'C. We kept getting glimpses of snow covered hills through the trees and it made for a lovely day's travelling.

We're now moored in the canal arm at Ellesmere. There are a few other boats here, some of which have paid for the winter moorings and have been here for a while.

Tesco have a store here, right beside the canal.  Shopping doesn't get much easier than that and I nipped in just before closing to stock up on fruit and veggies.

There's a Sculpture Trail here at Ellesmere. We might walk round it and take some more photos when we come back in a couple of weeks. In the meantime here's a photo of the "sculpture" which is opposite our mooring.

It's called "Canal Boat" and is described on the website "The landscape can be viewed through the perspective of the canal tunnel and the framework of the canal boat".  Now I know it's supposed to be art, BUT it just looks like a child's climbing frame to me!

Roger’s been away for a couple of days, over at Macclesfield Marina helping a friend sort out the electrics on his boat. While he was away I did all the boring cleaning jobs and a couple of loads of washing which I even managed to dry outside on the whirly-gig. We need to be in Chirk by Monday night so today we had to make up time and cruise for 6 hours.  The day didn’t get off to a good start as no sooner had I cast off and started off towards Wrenbury lift bridge than it started hail stoning so hard I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of the boat. The wind whipped up at the same time making it very difficult getting the boat through the bridge hole.  The wind and hail stopped as suddenly as they’d begun and thankfully that was the worst of the weather over with.  It’s been quite spring-like this afternoon and we even needed to wear sunglasses as it was so sunny.  We saw a field full of lambs and there are snowdrops all over the place. We’ve even seen a couple of cherry trees starting to blossom.

We last came up the Llangollen Canal in September 2010 to go to the Ellesmere Boat Festival. Back then the canal was extremely busy and  it took us over 5 hours to get up the 6 locks at Grindley Brook, queuing all the way.  Today we didn’t see any moving boats at all and it only took us an hour and a quarter to go up.

Half way up the staircase locks

When we were here last time, we met 2 hire boats coming down the locks as we were going up. They were full of Swedish holidaymakers who hadn’t had any training on lock use at all. Because there was a lock-keeper on duty at the staircase who did all the work for them they assumed that ALL locks were done for them, so they just sat on their boats at the next lock down waiting for someone else to do the work!  With so many boats queuing to get past them you can imagine some of the comments they got.  2 of the other ladies and I had to explain that it was “self-service” and show them how to work a lock. They soon got the hang of it and actually said they’d thought it was all a bit boring just sitting there while someone else did the work so were very grateful.

So now, 10 locks and 5 lift bridges later, we’re moored in the middle of nowhere, opposite a large farm. The weather’s changed again and it’s pouring down and the winds howling.  There’s no phone signal (Orange) and no internet either, so I’ll up-load this as soon as I get a signal again.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

More Hooky

I’ve been following this blog for a few years. It’s written by Lucy who’s a stay at home Mum and who creates the most amazing crochet items.  I actually taught myself to crochet from one of her tutorials a couple of years ago and have made several of her patterns, including the octagonal baby blanket and several bags.  My latest inspiration came from this tutorial for herb pot covers.  Do you like my version? It's based on an empty 2 litre orange juice carton.

I’ve put aside the flower blanket I told you about recently and have got hooked on making these covers.  They don’t take very long and are a great way of using up all those oddments of wool I have stashed away in the cupboard.

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m ashamed to say I forgot to get Roger a card.  Normally this wouldn’t have been any big deal as he hardly ever bothers but this morning he presented me with a lovely card and told me he had a surprise arranged for later in the day.  We set off up the 4 Hurleston Locks, battling the gusty winds and low water level in the pounds and stopped at the top to fill up with water. The engine had been making strange noises so Roger had a look down the weed hatch to see if anything had got caught round the propeller. This is a very rare occurrence for us as we have a prop-protector blade fitted which normally cuts through anything that gets caught, but we’d picked up a load of knotted plastic rope attached to a polythene sheet and that was just too much for the blade to cut through. You can see from the photo how the blade was chopping through the sheet but the knotted rope was just too tough and had to be yanked off.

We normally only cruise for between 3 and 4 hours a day and had planned on being at Wrenbury tomorrow (Weds.) so I was a bit put out when he insisted that we carry on to Wrenbury tonight.  9 locks and 1 lift bridge later and I was knackered! The wind had been increasing steadily all day making it hard work trying to stop the lock gates being blown open before I could get the paddles raised to fill them. We eventually moored at Wrenbury and he told me to go and get “dolled up” as he was taking me out to dinner.  What a lovely surprise.  We went to the Dusty Miller pub and had a really good meal, complete with champagne cocktail, red rose and chocolates.

Monday, 13 February 2012


When we got up this morning another two of the sheets had blown off the bridge and were floating in the canal. They can’t have been fastened down very well as it wasn’t particularly windy at all last night.

It was a bit chilly first thing so Chico wore the new coat I'd made him for Christmas.

We carried on up the locks and after a drizzly start the weather brightened up considerably. This afternoon it was lovely cruising weather, quite mild and sunny.

There’s certainly no shortage of water on this stretch of the Shroppie as all the bye-washes were like torrents.

We’ve seen quite a few moving boats today and the guys at the Anglo Welsh hire fleet at Bunbury were busy getting several of their boats ready to go out, probably because it’s half term.  We’re now moored just before Hurleston Junction and will turn up onto the Llangollen Canal in the morning.  Before it went dark we took Chico for a short walk up the locks and then crossed the top lock gate to have a look at Hurleston Reservoir which is fed with water from the Llangollen Canal.  You can’t make them out from the photo but there were hundreds of gulls bobbing about on the water.

the feeder from the canal