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Llangollen and Montgomery, spring 2004

Pontcysyllte aqueduct
Crossing Pontcysyllte aqueduct

[It's 30 metres up over the river Dee. How does it survive the safety freaks without even a railing on the off side? Shsh!]

A 1-week potter from Maestermyn Marine near Frankton Junction to Llangollen and Whitchurch along the Llangollen Canal plus part of the restored Montgomery Canal. Total 68 miles and 14 locks.

Diary extract...

Sat 2004-05-01 {18282}
Thunder and very heavy rain. Off in one van, the rain petering out around the M6 junc, then a fine, warm day. To Maestermyn Marine, ~SJ354325, about 15h30. Easy handover, most emphasis on the route, navigation hazards & pubs. Start ~16h30. Easy run, except one aggressive individual charging thro' a bridge hole hit us, even tho' we'd stopped. Stop eve ~19h at br 21. Eat on boat, then to Bridge Inn. Today (14..18.5) 5.5mi, 2l, 2.5h, 1lb (lift bridge). Boat is Countess, ~60ft, has Honda 3-cyl engine, lots of 240V inc two hairdriers & a microwave, 12V lighting & fridge.
Sun 2004-05-02 {18283}
Bog door has no lock; we have to have a convention that if the door's shut there's someone in there. Start 9h. Lots of boats around & confusion at bridge holes. Arr Llangollen at 13h20, mooring before the water point & services. There's a new off-line visitor moorings being constructed at the winding hole, boatyard said for 50 boats, due to open next month. Lunch at the Bridge End Hotel, then a walk around the town & then up to Horseshoe Falls. Girls found this a bit far & came back on the steam railway. Eve eat on boat. Warm all day, with some sunshine. Today (8.5..0.5) = 8mi, 0l, 4h20m. Drinks at the Chainbridge Hotel on the way back from the falls. The bridge itself is decayed & unsafe & out of use.
Mon 2004-05-03 {18284}
Bank holiday. Rain overnight & a little this morning, then sunny but not very warm. Start 0815, early to get out thro' the narrow bit without obstruction. Reverse-in turn, to use the flow of the canal to assist turn. In the narrowest bits, ~1 boat width, the flow is up to 0.2m/s. Lunch at the Bridge Inn again (1200..1315), with excellent (but big and expensive) sizzling peppered steak and Cajun chicken. After lunch back to boatyard for a (free) pump-out, check of gas, &c (30m), then on a little bit to between brs 2 & 1, mooring in the open for a walk down the first four locks of the Montgomery. (Moor 1630.) By the time we'd got back, another boat had come and moored right next to us. Eat on boat & lazy eve doing crosswords and reading. Today (0.5..0 & 0..15) = 15.5mi, 2l, 6.5h & 1 lift br. Llangollen very pretty but over-stocked with tourist shops.
Tue 2004-05-04 {18285}
Lots of rain overnight. Towpath W of br 3 is barely walkable & E of the junc is closed for 1.5mi. Potter to the first lock of the Montgomery at 09h30, when it opens (arr 09h30..10h30 or 14h30..15h30). Helpful lock-keeper helps work the 1st staircase lock, then the next 2 & the new 20cm lock just round the corner. Very quiet, passed one boat moving and a few moored. Engine changing speed by itself towards the end of the morning. Stop at Queens Head at 11h30, & to the pub for lunch. Then walk on past the 3 locks up to about br 77. One boat using the locks as we passed. Back on boat, turn and off at 15h. Police helicopter & policeman on towpath re-capturing an old man who had wandered out of somewhere. Arr below lock 4 at 16h30. Stories of the conflict between interests on the canal. BW selling water to Cheshire not wanting to divert much down the Montgomery, setting max 2500 boats per year, maybe 5000; ecologists trying to establish certain habitats & discouraging boats; restoration interests promoting thro' boating. Mere physical restoration is comparatively easy.
Wed 2004-05-05 {18286}
A day of almost continuous rain, respite only during the locks and for a couple of 15m periods in the aft. Start 0930 when the Frankton locks are ready for us. The sky darkened as if for a shower, but then it started to rain for 5 hours solid. Stop at Ellesmere for water (15m) then moor in the arm at 11h15. Lunch at the Black Lion, which does a wrinkly special lunch at 3L50 and was packed with them; lunch was good tho' & cheap even for us at 4L95 each. After lunch in the rain to look at the Mere, & find that the information centre was shut for lunch. On at 13h30 failing to find good mooring at br 43 for the pub, so on to about 1/2-way to br 42 for dinner on boat. Moor at 17h00. Today (15..26.5) = 11.5mi, 1lb, 4l, 5.25h. Getting a bit disenchanted with this canal. Too many boats, hence not the same friendly spirit. Today we had to stop at nearly every bridge to wait for an oncoming boat.
Thu 2004-05-06 {18287}
Start 09h15, to Whitchurch basin & turn there 1030. Walk up to Grindley Brook 3-staircase & a coffee in the shop there watching a boat go down. Then walk into Whitchurch. Nicely-made path into town, & a pretty main street. Lunch at the Horse & Jockey, behind the church. Off again on the return leg at 14h; shortly it started to rain again. Stop just after br 43 at an off-side mooring, at 15h45. Dry off again. Today (26.5..30 & 30.26) = 7.5mi, 6lb, 0l, 3h. Eve to Waggoners in village for a few drinks. It said outside "Food 12-2" but it was doing evening food. If we'd guessed we wouldn't have eaten on boat.
Fri 2004-05-07 {18288}
Sunshine all day, tho' not too hot. Start 08h45. Pause 1130..1200 between brs 56 & 57 for pix of Blake Mere, then on to moor in Ellesmere basin at 12h45. Back to the same pub for lunch, despite surveying the rest of the field. Aft 1400..1545, to stop at the 48h moorings just into the junc with the Montgomery. Nicholsons 4 (1997) has loads of errors around here: shows towpath wrong side between brs 3 & 6, br 1 on Llangollen branch it still calls br 70, & it doesn't show winding hole above Grindley Brook staircase.
Sat 2004-05-08 {18289}
Potter back to the boatyard (1m, 0l, 0sb, 0.5h) and off by 09h15.
    Day  Date    Hours  mi   Locks   SB   morn  aft  Water
    Sat  040501  2.5    5.5     2    1          N 
    Sun  040502  4.33   8.0     -    -    C     -    -
    Mon  040503  6.5   15.5     2    1    K     N    Llangollen
    Tue  040504  4.67   8.0     6    -    C     K    -
    Wed  040505  5.25  11.5     4    1    N     C    Ellesmere
    Thu  040506  3.0    7.5     -    6    K     N    -
    Fri  040507  6.25  11.0     -    1    C     K    Ellesmere
    Sat  040508  0.5    1.0     -    -    N
    Totals      33.00  68.0    14   10  
    Day  Lunch                           Evening
    Sat  -                            Chirk, Bridge Inn
    Sun  Llangollen, Bridge End Hotel Llangollen, on boat
    Mon  Chirk, Bridge Inn            Frankton J, on boat
    Tue  Queens Head                  Frankton locks, on boat
    Wed  Ellesmere, Black Lion        br 42, on boat
    Thu  Whitchurch, Horse+Jockey     Platt Lane, Waggoners
    Fri  Ellesmere, Black Lion        Frankton J, on boat
    Sat  -

©nib 2004-05-15..2005-12-06

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