Chris was keen to get moored in the Whitchurch arm and explore the town. I thought this would be a long shot as last time we tried the arm it was chocker with boats. Still, I thought, we could moor online and the walk would do us good.
Blake Mere is known for its beauty but the view at 7:30am this morning as I opened the day room side doors was breath taking. We could have been in Yellowstone national park except here the risk of bears was negligible.
|Stunning view with mist across the mere
|Sun already shining belies its only 5C outside
We got underway at 8 am and within a short while we were confronted with several C&RT workboats across the cut restoring the banks by a winding hole. They stopped and moved their largest workboat out of the way and waved us through. I did feel for the crew of a nearby hire boat that had moored for the night yards away. They did not need their alarm clocks this morning for sure!
|C&RT's floating post pile driver andsupport boats.
As you would expect the boat hurtled round the corner into my path. The crew spotted us at the last minute and slammed into reverse bouncing hard off the armco. I had already seen what was going to happen and already had AmyJo in reverse and we both came to a stop bow to bow feet apart.
I passed them on the wrong side and advised them in strong terms to bl&^dy well watch where they are going and slow down at tight corners in future. The helmsman apologised and the smile quickly disappeared of his face.
|The hire boat after it bounced off the armco still going at speed
After this things calmed down and the run to Press Junction had very few boats on it. In fact this was the only boat coming the other way we saw until the junction
|Prees Junction and the main line off to the left
|Cheeky lift hogging sparrow on the buffer stop with bridge fully raise.
|A great Shepherd's Caravan in a garden nearby
At the next bridge Chris raised it and we let the other boat pass through then closed it. We followed to the next bridge. Here the lady got off and raised the bridge. We expected her to leave it for us to close but waved us through. She then walked the two miles at a furious pace to the next bridge. Apparently she tries to walk 4 miles a day at this pace. It was tiring me out watching her, phew!
|By the next bridge the lady had it raised before we got there
|Entrance to the arm
Just in the arm was a mooring we might have squeezed into but we felt we would block the exit so we gingerly continued in. There were lots of boats in the arm down to the winding hole so we started our turn. Unlike yesterday today the turn went well.
|Right in the crook of the winding hole the ducks have their den
I had all but given up hope of mooring here until, as we almost completed the turn, I looked up the arm and spotted what looked like a possibility. It would mean reversing AmyJo between boats for a 100 yards and then we might not fit between the boats. We felt it worth a try.
AmyJo faultlessly reversed for me all the way back to the spot that could have been left just for us as we slotted in with feet to spare. Last but one boat from the very head of the arm. I admit I am quite chuffed at achieving the reverse without hitch nor hitting the other boats.
A chap in the boat ahead of us appeared and said. "That seemed like a hell of a lot of effort, would it not have been easier to moor out on the cut?" Chris informed him it was her wish to stop over in the arm and yes it was worth it. He seemed to respect that and offered good information on how to walk into town. He even gave guidance on the best pub in town. More on that in a minute.
|This little chap waited patiently by our cratch
hoping to be fed for over 20 minutes.
|Map showing the original route of the canal ( the dotted line)
Whitchurch town centre is delightful with many shops to give interest. It even has a small clock tower in the centre.
|Our mooring looking towards the head of the arm
|and looking towards the winding hole and entrance beyond