Thursday 31 March 2016

East7er and the Llangollen Day - busy day busing and walking

We looked at the weather forecast this morning and changed our plans.  Originally we were going to cruise to Trevor and the get the drone up around Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on Friday but the forecast did not look good for flying then, but, today was perfect so we hatched a new plan.

We walked down to the road and caught the 11:30am bus to Trevor.   The sun beat down and barely a breeze of wind was present when we got there.  We paused for a brief photo at the basin then walked down under the Aqueduct. 
Anglo welsh boats in trevor basin and the aqueduct beyond
 Having passed over the aqueduct several times now we really wanted to see it from a gongoosler's perspective, from below.  A foot path leads one to a viewing point and then on to the very base of the structure

The immensity of scale become all the more present viewed from below.  You can just make out walkers on the aqueduct
 One does not get a full view of just how high the aqueduct actually is until you see it from this point of view.  Towering way above us Chris got these photos as a boat passed overhead

Easy to see why its known as the stream in the sky.

The iron work seen from outside the aqueduct
With clear sky and sun I manage to get some super video and these photos.  Having the drone so far away was a bit nerve racking but with Chris acting as spotter we managed to keep it in sight all the time.
Looking downstream towards Chirk

Upstream with Trevor basin and the village beyond

Froncysyllte in the distance

As it was only 2:30pm we decided to  try the drone out at horseshoe falls so we walked to the Bridge Inn for coffee.  The bridge itself is now fully restored and re-opened in May 2015.  Last time we were here they were just starting to lay the deck.

Fully restored and now in service

Bridge Hotel viewed from the bridge
After the coffee we headed up to the falls.  A good flow was running over them and we had another opportunity to fly the drone

We decided to have a meal in the hotel but as they did not start serving food until 6pm we had a little time to spare.  We walked back via the road to Berwyn train station opposite the hotel and had another drink

The bridge viewed from the railway station
 Back at the hotel and having our meal this loco was running back at too.  We think it has just been recommissioned and was probably completing its trial as the station master had informed us there is a special steam event next weekend

Steam loco pulling into the station
Sadly tomorrow we leave Llangollen and start our return home.  We love it here and have thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring the area on foot an by bus.

Easter and the Llangollen Day 6- To Llangollen Basin

We had a leisurely start today (Wednesday).  It was nearly 10am before we pulled pins.   This was intentional as we were due to reach Llangollen basin today.  We figured (correctly as it happened) that by the time we got to Trevor most boats coming down stream from LLangollen would be past the narrows and heading out so the basin would be fairly empty.  

We reached Chirk with the other two boats moored with us following behind.  We rounded the bend and found the aqueduct clear of boats.
AmyJo begins her acrosing.
The weather early last night was perfect to get the drone out and so we walked to the aqueduct and got some super photos and video.

The view directly above the canal showing the distance between it and the railway.

Entering Chirk Tunnel

Our first sighting of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
At Froncysyllte we caught up with 3 hire boats waiting to go through the lift bridge.  The lead hire boat was clearly on their first day out and, (quite rightly), the helm took things slowly and gingerly.  It took a further 30 minutes to reach the aqueduct but whilst the other hire boaters were chomping at the bit we were quite happy to wait our turn and enjoy watching the antics.

Mercy sakes looks like we got us a convoy
The trip across the Ponty did not disappoint and was as exhilarating this time as it was the first time we crossed it.
Plenty of gongooslers accompanying the boats as we cross

The river Dee looking fantastic as always
At Trevor the junction was busy with boats.  As we reached the junction working boat Thor came through the bridge making the turn look easy followed by a day boat.  Thor's crew informed me our way was clear to proceed round the turn. 

Trevor Junction
With so many gongooslers and the crews of the other boats watching, making the tight turn made me feel very nervous, however, AmyJo must be enjoying this trip too as to my relief she spun round on a sixpence lining up perfectly with the bridge 'ole and we started the last leg to Llangollen with a sigh of relief .  

Passing under the first bridge after making the turn
Once out of the village we came across our first sighting this year of a clutch of ducklings.  Mum was very attentive as close by a crow was taking an unhealthy interest in the littl'uns.   I wonder if they are still all there.

Mum doing her best to protect her brood from the inquisitive crow
The scenery along this stretch is simply stunning and, for me, the best part of the canal.  The narrow nature of the cut brings all this closer and as one steers you almost forget you are actually on water at times

Those who have cruised this stretch will be familiar with is quirky design.  The "narrows" really are, with passing lay-byes along the way.  The concrete walls of the cut making some of the turns interesting for long boats like AmyJo.

No passing here.  We pull into a lay-bye to allow this hire boat and four others to pass.

There is a tight turn after this bridge out of frame to the left.  AmyJo only just fits round it with only inches to spare.

Lining up to pass under the bridge

Gently does it as we pass out the other side and start the turn

Pulled in and waiting for more boats to pass

This trip boat just would not wait but just kept coming.
Anyone in his way just had to find anywhere to pull in to let him through.
We arrived at the basin about 3pm and as we hoped it was nearly empty.  We pulled AmyJo into a corner birth along the wall in bright sunshine and no wind.  Within two hours boats started arriving and before long the basin looked full.

Lots of boats pulled in by evening.  AmyJo is tucked in the corner under the left hand house basking on the sun.
We walked round to the office to book in to find the mooring and electric is completely free until the 1st April - BONUS!  The washing machine was on like a shot and marina mode soon adopted.

Across the basin the boat horses were enjoying the sun as they had their stables cleaned out.  In fact it felt more like summer than spring at this point.

The forecast for the next two days is good so we plan to spend a couple of nights here and explore a bit.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Easter and the Llangollen Day 5 - On to Chirk

In my last post I mentioned the change in bridge numbering starting with 1 again but suffixed with a "W".  Adam commented to say this was do to the fact the Montgomery was meant to be the main route of the canal.  The Llangollen branch came later and so to avoid confusion with bridge 1 at the Hurlestone end of the canal a "W" was used as well.   Thanks for that one Adam.  

This morning we woke to bright sunshine and a gentle breeze.  Most of the strong winds were thankfully dying away as storm Katie tracked further out into the North Sea.  In fact, despite being 8am, the sun actually had some warmth already.  

After prepping AmyJo for cruising we left at 9am.  This was to be a shorter cruise today as we wanted to Stop at Chirk.  On both of the last trips we did this way we cruised through Chirk so this time wanted to stop and have a look round.

Leaving the Napton Junction visitors moorings
 There were few boats on the move and so we reached the now open Jack Mytton pub before seeing anyone on the move.  As we past through the bridge one could not help feeling it might have been built from a left over air raid shelter judging from the corrugated construction

several bridges hereabouts were constructed in this manner.  The Jack Mytton is just ahead on the left.
 We cruised through the lovely countryside with the Berwyn Hills visible in the background.  The sun putting in a good appearance warming the day, however, now and again heavy showers cut in making the day feel cold again.

The view on the way to New Marton locks.

At New Marton locks we joined our first queue all be it one boat going up ahead and another waiting to come down.  Both crews were on their first day out and were really grateful when Chris arrived to help them.  For the boat going up this was their first lock.  The lady clearly relieved when Chris offered help and advise.

Hire boat newbies come to terms with their first lock assisted by Chris

We did not wait long for our turn despite none of the arriving crews above or below offering any  help.
 At the second lock we could see people but no boat.  As AmyJo rose up the lock all became apparent.  They were in fact canoeists, who disembarked and carried the canoe around the lock.

Canoeists ahead towards the lock

A few more clouds were building and a couple of the showers became quite heavy.  Just as the rain stopped a trust boat hove into view and started to wind right in front of us.  We had to stop and awaited for them to complete the turn, then carried on.  Mercifully it was quite sheltered with little wind so AmyJo sat quite patiently where she stopped throughout their manoeuvre.

The trust boat winding while we wait on.
We reached the pretty Chirk Bank visitors moorings about 3pm just as the only moored boat pulled of.  Rather than moor before the bend we tool the first downstream rings on the straight.  Chris wandered why I did not want to moor further forward by the bend and the answer came shortly after as a hire boat crashed into the bank right where AnyJo had been not 10 minutes before.

Visitor moorings at Chirk Bank.  The centre line was a just in case but was loose enough not to do any harm.

The mooring ahead of AmyJo where we originally stopped and where the hire boat misjudged his turn.
After clearing down from the cruise we took our selves off for a walk to the village via the aqueduct.  A slight drizzle had set in putting paid to my plans to fly the drone.  Still, we got some nice pictures with Chris's camera from above the tunnel portal.

Chirck Aqueduct seen from directly above the tunnel portal.

Chirk village Church and a BT car with a faulty cloaking device by the look of it.
Umm BT never could get things to work properly :-)  Seriously, just multishot camera frames melded together.

The view from the village.  The canal runs above the farm house where the houses in the background are.

And the Aqueduct from the village main road.

Our mooring for the night.  AmyJo is moored just behind the boat in the distance.