Friday, 17 August 2018

Day 21 - Jack Mytton to Blake Mere

After the late night last night a few of us woke late.  It took a while to get mobilised but eventually cars were moved to their new locations to be available at today's destination, Blake Mere.  We had intended to stop at Ellesmere but yet another festival meant this would not be possible so Blake Mere was settled for.

Mooligans in the canal just after we set off
 Todays weather was cooler than of late so quite pleasant but with plenty of sunshine.  While we were getting ready to get underway a hire boat passed by with a Swedish crew aboard.  We followed some time later.

Bridge 10 is a disused railway bridge, one of Beechams casualties

Soon after bridge 10 we caught up to the Swedes.  It seems they were moving at just over tickover.   They were taking things VERY carefully taking ages to go through bridge 'oles and passing boats.  In fact they were so slow I had to keep putting AmyJo into neutral.  There are several bends around this section making overtaking impossible but it was nice just to bimble along anyway. We followed them for over an hour before they moored up at the Narrow Boat pub, just on the bend before a blind turn into a bridge.

Our boat of Swedes at Mystermyn Wharf (think thats spelt right)
 We continued our cruise uneventfully after that until Frankton Junction were we found Brian and Mary moored up.  They are in our marina so we exchanged pleasantries as we passed.  At the junction itself we were passed by Dave and Jude on their newly painted boat, "Hey Jude".  Seems nearly all Tattenhall boats are out on the Llangollen.

Francton Junction

Dave and Jude

Graham on Kingfisher and his improvised Sombrero 
 The next three miles consisted of twists and turns so not much to speak of.  As we approached Ellesmere boats could be seen moored up for some way.  At the junction we spied Mountbatten and Jellicoe the fuel boat and butty.  Richard was about so we came along side and topped up with diesel while Eric and Graham waited their turn on the nearby services.  The arm, crammed with boats for the feastival, was bustling with gongoozlers.

Fuel boat in the perfect place for doing business

We told Richard two more boats would call later in the evening.  He was happy to serve them whenever they arrived.  We then continued on to Blake Mere.  There we moored after the tunnel as this was the first place a mooring was free.   Later Graham had walked further round and found better mooring spots but by the time we upped pins and moved two boats had arrived from downstream, though there was still plenty of space to be had.

Paul and Marie followed in the evening and arrived at 9:30pm.  Chris had prepared everyone Chicken cooked in Cola, mash and veg.  This was immediately served with grateful thanks to Chris from everyone.  After the previous late night everyone then retired to bed after coffee.

Total distance:6.74 miles Elapsed time:3h37m38s Locks:0 Bridges:23 
Average speed:1.86 mph (1.86 lock/mph) 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Day 19 - Llangollen to Poacher's Pocket

It has come to my attention that my posts may have implied that those in our fleet have been partying and getting drunk most nights.  My apologies if that is the impression my posts have given.  Please rest assured that is NOT the case.  Whilst we have had some "heavy" nights, most have been sat round a log fire chatting and enjoying each others company.  Some have to drive to work next day so do not have much to drink, the rest of us do have more sober nights than drunk ones.

That out of the way back to the blog in hand

Today was time to say farewell to Llangollen and start our trip back.   It felt a little cooler today but still a nice day none the less.  We pulled out at about 9:30am and found that a large number of boats were towards us.

Leaving the basin.
Llangollen Wharf was busy as ever,  all the trip boats were lined up waiting for their passengers.

Our fleet make their way down from Llangollen one by one.

Its going to be busy in the basin tonight as boat, after boat, after boat was passed going upstream.  Chris went ahead as lookout per usual and reached the Trevor basin to see the trip boat just leaving to cross the aqueduct.  

Being only a short way back from the junction I made the turn and followed the trip boat onto the aqueduct.

Approaching the junction with the all clear from Chris
Having crossed the aqueduct we joined the busy section at Froncysyllte.  This time the trip boat was trying to wind but a hire boat was moored on the winding hole.  I can only imagine the exchange from the trip boat captain at this point as the hire boat soon moved out of the way.  We have heard the colourful language from the trip boat crew before so had a good idea how the exchange would have gone.

Waiting for the trip boat to wind.  The errant hire boat can be seen to the right of the boat in front.
 At the lift bridge Chris raised it and waited for the fleet to pass through, first Paul....

Then Eric....

Next was Graham

and finally Marie.  It should be ladies first but Marie prefers to follow.

We crossed Chirk Aqueduct and Tunnel without hitch and with only two boats waiting to come through.

Another trip boat waiting to enter the tunnel

After a brief pause at Chirk Bank for lunch we continued our way and eventually moored at the Poacher's Pocket for the night

Total distance:9.20 miles Elapsed time:6h16m0s Locks:0 Bridges:22 
Average speed:1.47 mph (1.47 lock/mph) 

Friday, 10 August 2018

Day 18 - Llangollen Basin to Horsefalls

We decided to take advantage of the 48 hour mooring in the basin so this morning we paid our mooring fees and went for s stroll in the town.  From the canal wharf the town looks great with the hills behind.  

We then decided to have breakfast and whilst in the cafe the rest of our friends joined us.  Seems they had the same idea and by chance had chosen the same cafe as us.

In the afternoon I wanted to walk to the horseshoe falls and Graham, Marie and Eric came too.  As it was Chris's turn to doggy sit so she stayed behind and chilled in a chair in the sunshine reading her book.

The stream train was running again today and came past us slowly enabling me to take this photo.

Halfway to the falls there is a motor museum that we have walked past many times.  This time Eric and I decide to go and take a look.  Entry is £4 but for me it was money well spent.  The museum is an Aladdin's cave of motorbilia.  It is stuffed full of Motorbikes, cars and car parts.  It bought back so many good memories when I was a kid and these vehicles were commonplace.

Motor enthusiasts heaven

When I was a kid I always dreamt of having one of these.  Now I'd need a lottery win to get one.

But I did own one of these!

We got to horseshoe falls and they looked super in the sunshine.  Some people were swimming nearby so we decided to sit and dip our feet into the water.  It was icy cold but felt good.  We sat there for a while, just resting.  It felt like heaven.

Horseshoe falls.  There was a lot of driftwood last time we were here but much has been cleared away now.

After a while we walked back to the Chain Bridge hotel and had a refreshing drink.  The bridge is now complete and looks great.

On our return to the boats another friend, Bob, joined us and we all went for a meal in the Corn Mill Inn.  We were seated on the top floor and whilst the food was great service was very poor.  We had to go downstairs and ask for a drink, and waited ages for it.  What we can't understand is why we were on the top floor despite plenty of tables being free downstairs.  It would have made life a lot easier for the waitresses.

Cleggy, foggy, and Compo are nothing compared to the antics this lot get up to.

Day 20 - Poachers Pocket to Jack Mytton Pub

As Marie and Paul are back at work today's run was somewhat shorter.  It felt cold when we rose and dark clouds were everywhere.

Once the cars were in place Eric, Graham, and ourselves moved our boats.  Instead of us taking the lead Eric took point with Graham following and AmyJo took rear guard.

He still drinking that same bottle he was four years ago

No sign of Shawn the sheep this time.
 We made good progress running with the flow.  The lion Quay moorings were still empty as we passed again.  Wonder why.

All was good until we reached New Marton top lock.  Here we joined a queue of six boats.  It took an hour and a half to get into the lock so we filled with water while we waited and chatted to the other crews.  By the time we locked through nine boats were waiting behind us.

The queue starts to build

Smudge helped too by pulling AmyJo into the bank.  Considering his bad leg I had to be careful with him.

Thankfully there was less of a queue at New Marton bottom lock with only one boat ahead and already leaving the lock.  Unfortunately there were no boats coming up so we had to reset the lock in our favour.

A short run after we joined Eric and Graham at the empty Jack Mytton moorings.  Chris needed a shop so with Graham's car to hand they left me to catch up with the blog and went to the supermarket in Oswestry.

Later, after work, Paul and Marie arrived and then went with Graham and Eric to work their own boats to join us.  Both wanting to do this stretch as we moved their boats for them coming up so they miss this bit.  Eric and Graham worked the locks for them.

For dinner Chris cooked everyone a Chilli Con Carne and we sat around the pubs picnic table in the grounds to eat.  We then spent the night chatting with the bar-b-q burning logs for a warm fire. 

Total distance:3.81 miles Elapsed time:3h32m3s Locks:2 Bridges:8 
Average speed:1.08 mph (1.64 lock/mph)

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Day 17 - Froncysyllte to Llangollen Basin

We got underway about 11am today as we wanted to miss the early morning traffic leaving Llangollen and this turned out to be a good tactic later

There is a house here that used to be full of blooms and really colourful.  Sadly this year the garden looks a bit neglected.

Not as colourful as last tie we passed by.

As we approached the lift bridge a boater was walking back to his boat having just raised it.  He waved us through so we thanked him and once through turned onto the last leg of canal before the aqueduct.

There are a couple of water points just passed the long term moorings so we took the opportunity to top up.  Meanwhile these canoeist were getting in the way of passing boats and a queue was forming coming downstream because of them.  This is always an entertaining stretch of canal with much boat shuffling going on, in the middle of all this, the sweet boat, once again making it difficult for boats to pass each other.

Canoeist had held up boats on the aqueduct .
 Topped up and just as the fleet arrived I cast off and we got under way again.

Getting underway again

On arrival at the aqueduct boats were going our way so we followed them onto it.  The sun was giving us an excellent view all round including our shadow far below

I simply love going over this aqueduct.

the view never disappoints

And that sensation of flying again
 Once over we found Trevor surprisingly clear, only two boats waiting to cross.  I made a perfect turn under the bridge without hitting anything only to catch the wall beyond.  Good job no one saw it.

Empty basin.  Never seen it like this before.

Chris being artistic with the camera.
 We proceeded up to Llangollen meeting very few boats coming the other way so leaving later worked out just right.

Passing moored boats with Paul following behind

Smudge acting as forward look out
 At one point we came across these sheep drinking from the canal.  We later heard the one nearest to the camera was seen up to its neck in water and in distress.  I do hope it got out OK.

Just before the narrows a private boat pulled off feet in front of me causing me to use reverse to avoid hitting him.  It was clear he knew I was there but gave no apology.  He then proceeded the rest of the way on tick over.  We were later to find out he was a nasty piece of work.

In the narrows he proceeded without sending anyone ahead.  He could see the trip boat approaching the other way but did nothing to pull in to let it pass.  As we were already in the narrows aware of the trip boat thanks to Chris up ahead we held back.  

The chap then shouted at the trip boat yelling at them to reverse siting they had already spoilt his holiday last time he came up.  It got him nowhere and eventually he gave up and reversed back to us so the trip boat could pull into the passing pace.  We could all then get underway again.

The rude gent making the turn into llangollen

We found several empty jetties in the corner of the basin furthest in so all moored one after the other.  After 3 weeks we had arrived at our destination.  For Marie, who has not long owned her boat, this was a major achievement, and for some others, the first time reversing onto a mooring so, in the evening we celebrated with a bar-b-q long into the night and early hours.

Basking in sunshine in the basin

Celebratory Bar-b-q

Total distance:5.30 miles Elapsed time:3h34m49s Locks:0 Bridges:18 
Average speed:1.48 mph (1.48 lock/mph)