Friday 31 October 2014

October Cruise Day 4 - Back to Wrenbury

After yesterday's cold and drizzly day this morning looked more promising.  There was still the morning chill but the sky looked much brighter and a hint of the sun was starting to show itself.

This morning's mooring
 We got under way at 9.15am and found we were making excellent time now we had the flow with us instead of against us.  The sun soon made an appearance lighting up this group of bushes showing off their reds and whites in the sun.  We do so love the Autumn colours and the Llangollen this time off year is stunning.

Lovely red and white leaves in the sun
 In short time we arrived at Grindley brook Locks to find only one boat going down ahead of us so we went straight into the first lock

The lock keeper's office now adorned with national flags

Grindley top lock
Middle chamber

Bottom chamber and the shop and cafe
The last chamber is the deepest
 After the staircase are the three separate locks to descend but these were not in our favour so we had to turn each one. 

First pound of the single lock and practising my reversing sills
Looks like I'm practising my putting but a mooring rope is a lousy golf club
and the mooring bollard does not roll as well as a ball
 Above the last lock we passed this C&RT work boat going up and at first I thought my eyes were playing tricks as I was sure the helmsman's cab was growing in height.   One of the C&RT guys accompanying it assured me I was not seeing things, the cab does indeed rise and fall to allow the helmsman to see over the differant loads carried in front.

Cab in the raised position
A better view of the diagonal bridge brickwork after the last lock
We arrived at Wrenbury lift bridge at around 2pm and as we passed moored boats we spied some crews scurrying to get under way.  Not wanting a repeat of yesterday we got through and lowered the bridge long before the first boat got fully under way.  Just as well as the rapidly growing queue of cars let us off the hook and the other boaters when they did arrive soon realised we did the right thing as a result.

Wrenbury lift bridge viewed from the Whitchurch side.
The visitor's mooring were virtually empty so I took the first mooring space after the bridge.  With plenty of time on our hands we wanted to explorer the village a little so we decided to walk into Wrenbury as we needed a few supplies.   Wrenbury village is a very English looking village with a large green and some beautiful houses like this one.

Parked opposite the green I spotted this lovely old banger and so after picking up our supplies just had to go for a closer look.

Could be a scene straight out of Poirrot's aventures
 The car turned out to be an old Riley.  It as in great condition and clearly was in regular use.  I love it when cars like this are actually used and not buried away, forgotten, under covers in some dusty barn.  

You don't often see one of these nowadays
We decided to eat on board tonight so threw another log on the fire and settled down for the evening.  AmyJo's cabin was soon as hot as a sauna so as it was still mild outside we let the Hobbit die back.

Thursday 30 October 2014

October Cruise Day 3 - More horn troubles but an unusal cure does the trick

I woke at 3am this morning needing to use the little room after which, for reasons unknown, I could not get back to sleep.  I stuck it out under the duvet until 6am and could lay no more so got up leaving Chris having a short course of death.  The cabin was particularly cold and there was an air of winter outside so I woke the hobbit once more to warm the place up

Moorings at Wrenbury
Wrenbury always holds as special place for us as it was here we met up with Del and Al on Derwent6 (click).  It was this meeting on this exact spot we had set in motion our journey to having AmyJo built.  On that day we enjoyed full sun and warm weather.   You can read the full story of that day here (click).  

This morning was not so warm and mist on the cut meant temperatures were low

Looking towards the lift bridge

Morning mist almost hides the down stream
lift bridge we passed under yesterday

The iconic Wrenbury Mill
 We loosed lines at 9.15am and with no one in sight I got AmyJo under way while Chris prepared the lift bridge for me to pass under.

Not sure what I was doing here but clearly had my hands full
 As I passed under the bridge I looked back and was astounded to see three more boats following me through that had appeared from nowhere.  I had to pull over to wait for Chris whilst the boats passed through. Not one of them thanked Chris as they passed, how rude!  

Behind them, some distance back, was yet another boat had appeared heading our way so Chris was not sure whether to keep the bridge open or not.  Her dilemma was soon resolved when the hire boat basin owner told Chris to lower the bridge as complaints from residents meant only three boats were allowed through at a time to avoid queues of traffic.  Chris complied but by now the 4th boat, a single hander with no BW key, was at the bridge and asked Chris to let her through, which Chris duly obliged.  At least the lady helm of this boat thanked Chris as she gratefully passed under the bridge.

The last boat with polite lady disappears into the distance
leaving us behind to close the bridge.
The four boats then disappeared into the distance leaving us astounded and of course, left with every lock there after against us.  Moral of the story - let some one else go first next time!

Miles of lovely clear and beautiful canal followed
 I decided at a blind bridge 'ole to try the horn and once again not but got not so much as a squeak from the damned thing despite it working fine last night.  This is quite odd as it worked fine before I re-mounted it

 We worked our way up Warbury Lock, Quoisley Lock, Willeymoor Lock and Poveys' Lock, all against us until we reached Grindley Brook Locks.  

The Willeymoor inn at Willeymoor lock - closed when we passed by
Quoisley lock with strong bywash, a feature of these locks
Povey's lock clearly being prepared for next weeks closure
  The Grindley bottom lock is reached via a bridge with unusual diagonal brickwork, presumably used as the bridge is offset at an angle to the canal.  

Bridge portal to the bottom lock pound

Unusual diagonal brickwork

Delightful holding pound as you pass through the bridge
The start of Grindley Brook locks begin with three separated locks followed towards the summit by the famous 3 lock staircase rising just under the A41 with its lock side @69 cafe.  We have passed these locks countless times by car before now so it was a particular delight for us to work them in AmyJo.

Looking down the staircase from the top chamber
Was this a plush lock keepers residence once or a toll office?
 Now privately owed.
At the top of the locks is a sanitary station and 3 water points.  We needed to top the water tank up and dispose of rubbish so stopped for a while and had a late lunch at the same time whilst it was quiet.  
Whilst moored up I thought I'd try the horn again.  I figured if it worked unmounted I'd try it that way for the rest of the trip.  I loosened the two holding screws but before completely removing them tried it one more time and b@gg@r me it worked!  Whats more it has done so every time I've used it ever since.  Why loosening a mounting screw should make it work I've no idea but who am I to complain.

A few more miles on and we arrived at the New Mills lift bridge by the junction of the Whitchurch arm.  I was keen to investigate the arm and hoped to moor there over night as it looked quite pretty.  The sign at the arm entrance tells boaters of larger boats to continue to the nearby winding hole to wind and then return to enter the arm.  Clearly at a steep angle to the main line there is no room to turn into the arm when travelling from Grindley Brook so we abided by the sign, winded and entered the arm.

Looking back into the arm from the lift bridge and the sign
informing boater how to enter

The arm is out of shot to left of picture and winding hole up ahead

At 4.30pm it was clear we had arrived far too late as all available moorings were taken which came as no surprise. I had hought is a long shot at best.  With no choice we winded in the arm and left having at least had the experience of travelling into it.  All signs indicate this stretch is only phase one of the restoration so it may well be extended one day.

The extent of the Whitchurch arm navigation.

 Winding once more upstream of the arm in the same winding hole as before we retraced our steps and moored downstream a few 100 meters of the lift bridge for the night in a lovely secluded spot.  We were now ready to start our homeward journey and the rest of the Llangollen will have to wait for another time.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

October Cruise Day 2 New waters and that horn gives us a surprise

We woke this morning to glorious sunshine and summer trying to make a come back as it felt comfortably warm.  

AmyJo enjoying the sun at Barbridge The junction is in the distance
We had a lovely run for the 20 minutes it took to reach Hurlston Junction and as we planned to cruise new waters for AmyJo we turn onto the Llangollen.  

My next house (dream on Steve)
As we approached the junction we found nowhere to land as all moorings were taken and these three hire boats moored thus

All moored on the lock landing.
It transpired the boat inside on the lock landing had its rudder out of the skeg cup and those rafted to it were travelling with them.  They had come from Wrenbury last night and travelled down the flight in the dark then moored there.  The chappy on the stern was the hire boat mechanic trying to relocate the rudder without success.

There was nothing for it but to raft alongside the outer boat to let Chris off to set the lock.  In so doing we woke the crew who were shocked we had come along side.  I politely reminded them where they had moored and they saw our predicament, then went back to bed would you believe.  It was now 10:30am!

Finally AmyJo enters Hurlston bottom lock.
 Having spent the last few months working wide locks the chambers at Hurlston felt really enclosing and tight.  That said both Chris and I both feel happier in narrow locks.

Breath in.
 For the rest of the flight I got Chris to take the helm and did my bit, keeping the locals happy.  This lady lives in the cottage and took great delight telling me they had been out gathering sh*t for their compost heap.  Apparently they have two of them.  Nice! 

No not 5 more locks Chris, just a friendly wave.
Put your back into it my son,  That bench looks so inviting right now.
 Half way up the flight I met the hire boat mechanic on his way back to his van and got chatting as we walked to the next lock. 

Seems the hirer of the boat with the busted rudder was insisting the boat left base like it and that it was not his fault.  Neither the mechanic nor I were convinced as he had already dropped down 4 locks before arriving here so why had he not reported it sooner.  To make matter worse for the hirer the local lockie, who by now had joined us, told us that last night a boat had rammed lock No2's top gate in the dark as they thought it was open and so the walk board was now unsafe.  I do wander if it was our hire boat below?

Super view from the top lock
and lovely vistas beckon
AmyJo sporting that new bow fender.  Is that a smile.
 At Bachehouse bridge, I think it was, C&RT men were repairing yet another bridge parapet.  This seems to be more common concurrence from reading other blogs it seems.

Parapet repairs and new bank by the looks of it

Lovely gardens around here

One for our friend Steve (Sven),  as we rounded a bend we found a garden with a smorgasbord of classic cars but one I know Steve would appreciate is this mini hidden away between sheds.  Looks a runner too.

Though, in the same garden, this hardly fits the classic car category, however, stick 4 wheels on, add an engine in it and you could have some fun down the high street I think.  "There they go Milrid, swanning of to the pub no doubt"

Unusual mode of transport and note the mk2 Escort behind.
 After ascending Swanley and Baddiley locks we approached Wrenbury and our first ever lift bridge.  Poor Chris was so keen to have a go she forgot the BW key and windlass so had to scurry back to AmyJo for them.

Wrenbury Church lift bridge 19

We knew rain was due later so decided to make the most of the almost empty visitors moorings and pulled up for the night.  I had barely closed up the boat when the rain started.  Good timing or what!  It was heavy at first but soon abated long enough for me to dismount the horn before it got dark.  I was determined to see if I could get the blasted thing to work before forking out for another.

I took the horn to pieces but could not find anything obvious, there was no corrosion or loose joints, so put it back together.  I decided to give it one more chance so tried it and blow me it worked.  I had not expected it to so nearly dropped it over the side as it made me jump.  I tried it again and behold, it worked again.   Pleased with myself I remounted it and we then went for a meal in the Dusty Miller to celebrate.  The meal was just fab and although slightly on the expensive side it was worth every penny.   We then retired for a drop of highland spring water before hitting the sack.