Monday 28 March 2016

Easter and the Llangollen Day 2 - What a differance a day or 3 makes

Two days without internet means we have a bit of a catch up to do in this post, sorry about that. So what have we been up to since we left Hurleston?

After Friday's Sunny t-shirt weather cruising, the weather had turned to the dark side on Saturday. The force was indeed strong in this one as the day was bitter cold, wet and very windy.  Our luck with good weather had come to an end.

We left Hurleston about 8:45am and the cruise was going OK but the temperature was much cooler than yesterday. The morning started off reasonably but the wind slowly got worse as the day wore on.

At the two Swanley locks we found no queues but the locks were against us, even so we got through them in good time. At Badiley locks the wind was picking up and the strong by washes made for a hair raising entrances to the locks though, fortunately, AmyJo was being very co-operative in the wind for a change and responded to the helm really well when needed.

First of the Swanley Locks and strong by wash just ahead

Chris steps it out for the next lock.  I do offer to lock wheel honest, but she prefers to work the locks.
By the time we got to Wrenbury the wind was blowing a reall hooly and we were getting cold, tired and steering was becoming more and more difficult, so we decided to pull in. By good fortune our marina neighbours Dave and Judy, moored a few boats up, were on the tow path and gave assistance. It took the four of us heaving on the lines to get AmyJo alongside and tied up as the wind had got that strong. Without Dave and Judy's help we would never have got moored up. Big thank you to you both.

Taken in a lull in the wind AmyJo safety tied up at Wrenbury
Total distance:5.19 miles Elapsed time:3h39m5s Locks:5
Bridges:18 Average speed:1.42 mph (2.79 lock/mph) 

 7:30am Saturday morning the wind had eased considerably.  We slipped the lines at 7:45am and crept up to the lift bridge which Chris raised for me to pass through.  We left early to avoid not only the wind but also to avoid a repeat of last year whereby as soon as we got through the bridge and stopped to pick up Chris, 5 boats appeared from nowhere and cruised through without so much as a thank you, leaving us sitting waiting to lower the bridge.

Not a soul about as we pass through the lift bridge.
The wind was brisk all day and had that biting winter feel to it.  The Observation deck (or Pram Hood ) has more than paid for itself as when up it really protected us from the worst of the wind.  We only had to lower it once too.

With surprisingly very little traffic on the cut we got through Grindley Brook without having to queue.  We got through Whitchurch in light rain but just after passing the winding hole past Whichchurch arm the heavens opened with a torrential down pour with hail stones in the rain.  Luck was with us and we had just gone under the A41 bridge so we stopped to allow the downpour to pass. 

Holed up under the A41 until the down pour passes.
 We then continued until we reached a nice spot sheltered from the wind at Springhill near Fenns Wood.  We could hear the wind still gusting but AmyJo sat quietly at her mooring all through the night.

Lying in relative calm as the wind still blew around us.
 It was while we were moored here a rainbow formed and the pot of Gold at the end was clearly at this farm.  Its the first time I've ever witnessed the a rainbow make landfall this close before.  The colours were quite vivid and definitely in front of the trees in the photo below.

Rainbow making landfall at this farm
Even in this close up you could still see the rainbow by the barn.
Total distance:9.90 miles Elapsed time:7h42m13s Locks:10
Bridges:24 Average speed:1.29 mph (2.58 lock/mph) 

And so to today.  I have to say today's weather was much better to us despite the warnings of storm Katie.  The wind had eased and the cloud showed signs of lifting.  Sounds like the south got the full brunt of it.  

After our early start yesterday we did not surface until gone 8am.  We eventually got under way at 9:30am.

Last lift bridge before Press Junction in the distance

The Wixall marina arm.  The weather was still a little gloomy at this point.
With Chris working the last Lift bridge we made good time to Press Junction.  Along the way we spotted this house down on the fen level.  Clearly the owner was hedging his bets with the boat in the garden, just in case the waters rose a little too much. 

The fens may look grim place but they do have a certain beauty of their own.

This chap escorted us all the way from the junction to Taraloka at the end of the straight stretch.  A kestrel we think?
Chris struggled to get a good photo and this is the best we could get.

Pretty moorings near Hampton Bank

Ellesmere tunnel, only 87 yards, was clear and was wider than this photo looks.
 We made Ellesmere by 1pm and moored just outside the marina.  After walking into town for lunch and then a stop at Tesco's we carried on round to the services for a water top up, passing Gerry Good's boat.  Gerry is an entertainer and does a fair job of the old numbers by Frank Sinatra and other singers of the time.  He sing some good versions of more modern tunes too.  We saw him last at the Shady Oak a few weekends back.

Ellesmere arm entrance and Gerry Good's boat in the foreground.
 Just past Tetchill we came across our first lambs of the year.  clearly only a few days old, many sheltered in the lea of their mothers for warmth.  

A lamb watches us pass by with curiosity
 At 6pm  we decided to stop just after Francton junction in another sheltered spot just upstream of bridge 1W.  The weather was becoming more settled and the sun was out.   There was enough Blue sky to make a pair of Jeans and, despite the cold, the evening became quite pleasant.   It was so nice I sat out in the cratch and gave the Francis lamp a much needed polish.

At this point we noticed the bridge numbers start back at 1 again but suffixed with a "W", I wonder why?

Total distance:8.70 miles Elapsed time:3h28m37s Locks:0
Bridges:14 Average speed:2.50 mph (2.50 lock/mph) 

Total distance:3.62 miles Elapsed time:2h14m13s Locks:0
 Bridges:13 Average speed:1.62 mph (1.62 lock/mph)


Adam said...

It's because the original bridge numbers continue down the Monty, because that used to be the main route. The W was added relatively recently by BW to avoid confusion -- especially if you needed to give your location to the emergency services, for example.

nb AmyJo said...

Thanks Adam.
I did wander if that was the case. I was hoping you would have the answer :-)