Tuesday 14 April 2015

Easter 2015 Cruise - Day 12

Last night the silence was absolutely deafening.  Its been so quiet we could actually hear the Sparrow's fart this morning.  I'm falling in love with the Mont. It has to rank as one of my favourite cruises so far.  Its almost like a little corner of Wales time forgot.  Boats and people are almost on existent and its soooooo relaxing.  Its a joy to puddle along at 2 mph and just watch the scenery go slowly past without keeping eyes peeled for other boats.

Lock keeper's cottage and our mooring where Armadio sits in the distance.
 Only Aston No.1 lock to do first thing then a plod past Queens head, onto autopilot, and a dead straight run to Heath Houses where the now redundant Shrewsbury-Chester railway used to run.  Here the brick and timber packet house was used for passengers of Wolverhampton Swift Packet Boat Company.  Pearsons informs us they advertised a schedule of just over 5 hours to cover 32 miles and 22 locks.  Pretty speedy or those days.  Probably faster than the M25 in rush hour today!
The former packet terminal basks in the morning sun.

More greenery now than our trip down two days ago.
 After coming through Graham Palmer Lock we made the Weston arm by 11am.  Whilst we had time in hand we thought we would top up the water as Chris had put on two wash loads in the washing machine and to dispose of the rubbish.  As we approached, clearing bridge 70, we were greeted by a cheery wave from Della and Gary on nb Muleless who moored in the arm over night.  

It was suddenly quite breezy here at the head of the junction and as we started to wind I could not get AmyJo to complete the turn and we almost ended up broadside across the arm.  Quick thinking and muscle from Gary saved the day by hauling on our centre line to get her round.  It took both of us hauling on the line to get AmyJo in but with Chris helming her astern and Gary and I heaving on the centre line AmyJo finally came to rest along the quay opposite Muleless and right next to the water tap.  Huge thanks to Gary for helping out.  Thats a pint I owe him when we meet up next.

After chatting for a while we could see signs of movement at the top lock so at 11:55 we got underway again. The bottom two locks were set ready for us and with the aid of the lockie we moved up to the pound where after a short wait we swapped places with a boat coming down and entered the staircase.  We then learned we were the only boat coming up whilst 5 were going down.  So busy is the Mont 5 boats is a lot in one day!

Looking back from the lock we could see Muleless in the distance

Lokie helps us through the bottom locks

Entering the lower chamber
 After clearing the locks we made a right turn at Frankton junction and headed towards Ellesmere.  On the way one house owner had a novel way to make a living allowing boats to moor at the bottom of his garden but for only 2 hours max mind!

Meter mooring

The junction looking toward LLangollen
 We had an uneventful run into Ellesmere passing only 2 boats along the way.  After the Mont the canal seemed alive and moored boats were everywhere.

Approaching Ellesmere junction and the services
 Chris wanted to shop in Tescos so we turned into the arm not expecting to be able to moor but luck was on our side as immediately after the bridge the first mooring (and only one) lay waiting for us.

Entrance to the Ellesmere arm seen approaching from LLangollen
 We tied up and did the shop. A sign on the shopping trolley states it will stop once crossing the red line at the shop boundary.  We crossed it, the trolley carried on without halting.  In fact we managed to push it all the way along the arm back to AmyJo.  Once unloaded it was decided Chris would take the trolley back.  I would bring AmyJo down the arm and wind picking Chris up at the same time.  

What I had not factored in was Tescos and the old warehouse form an inconvenient wind tunnel and the winding hole and with a good breeze already blowing my second winding of the day also failed.  This time it was a simple matter of bow hauling AmyJo round onto the warehouse moorings as Chris re-appeared.  Not my day for winding today!

We passed down the arm and got on our way again as we had a rendezvous to keep.  At the bridge opposite the marina we met two hire boats coming the other way as we were half way through the 'ole.  Luckily they were cautious and simply pulled in to let us pass.

Last of the two hire boats pass by and the marina entrance to the left
 Before we knew it Ellesmere tunnel appeared.  We could see a tunnel light in it and just as we were getting closer the boat emerged from the tunnel leaving our way clear to enter.

Ellesmere tunnel portal

Walk way inside the tunnel is quite wide for a tunnel
 Once out of the tunnel we started to look for a mooring and to our delight, and surprise, we found the perfect spot long side Blake Mere lake with stunning views.  All we had to do now was sit back with a drink,  admire the views and wait.

Blake Mere and our mooring

while ahead..... comings and goings of a busy canal

Fantastic scenery around here
 Finally the reason we had stopped came round the corner.  We had called Jon and Hannah on coal boat Mountbatten and asked them to stop and refuel us which they obliged.

Mountbatten''s instantly recognisable bow hoves into view
 They pulled in along side AmyJo and  topped us up with diesel and two bags of coal.  Now some people worry about taking fuel from these boats because of the risk of getting the diesel bug but one should not be worried about taking on from Mountbatten.  Jon has fitted her out with a brand new fuel tank and as they have only been trading for a few week their fuel is fine.  Trade has been brisk for them so they are filling with fresh diesel every other day.

I will say Jon and Hannah give a very friendly and efficient service and it was a pleasure doing business with them.   We chatted  with them for some time about their venture and its clear they are very committed to their customers and business so intend to be around for some time to come.  We wish them continued success.  Having them trading on the cut has put a stop to the marinas monopolising the diesel supplies on the LLangollen.  The good news is since they have started trading the high priced marinas are now starting to drop their prices too so everyone gains as a result.

Hannah helps tie up alongside

Mountbatten can also supply coal and gas at very competitive rates 

Hannah and John aboard Mountbatten
So thats it for today.  A bottle of Thirsty Ferret awaits in the fridge with my name on it so until tomorrow.... Cheers.


Adam said...

Glad you enjoyed the Monty -- although it can't be a bit of Wales that time forgot, because all the current bit is in Shropshire!

Unknown said...

Glad your enjoying your cruise, hope to meet you one day. Clinton and Sharon from Tacet

Unknown said...

Glad your enjoying your cruise, hope to see you on the cut.
Clinton & Sharon from Tacet

nb AmyJo said...

Hi Adam,
Quite true but it was only a figure of speech :-)

Hi Clinton & Sharon,
We look forward to that. Love to meet boats and owners like yourselves. We used to pass Tacet with a for sale sign displayed, moored at Norton Junction when we were based at Crick so its nice to know she is as loved by her new owners as her previous owners loved her.