Monday 4 April 2016

Easter and the Llangollen Day - 9 through 11

We have missed a few days blogging partly due to the fact we have had poor mobile signal up to now and partly because our journeys have been short or days wet and miserable.

When we left Froncysyllte the sun was out but the clouds gathered slowly as the morning passed and it turned a lot colder.  Fleeting rain showers came and went but we were happy hiding under the pram hood.

The front window raise on the pram hood helps with visibility when its raining
 We passed through Whitehouses tunnel without seeing another boat on the move.  We still had the cut to ourselves by the time we reached Chirk tunnel though by now the rain was becoming more persistant.

Clear massage through Chirk Tunnel but the rain was getting heavier by the  minute
 On emerging from the tunnel we could see a boat had just started to cross the aqueduct so we stopped to allow it to cross over.  We could not use the moorings provided for the purpose as once again our friend in the Sweet boat had stopped in the way.  It would seem he has not moved far since we last came this way and he certainly was not getting much trade this time either.

Waiting for a boat on the aqueduct to pass over.
 By now Chris had retreated inside as there was no point her getting wet too, besides she had taken up point in the bow as look out to let me know when the way was clear.

Chris's view from inside.

By the time we reached the Poacher's Pocket the rain had almost stopped.

Pram hood in lowered mode for this bridge

Lovely canal side residence for sale.
 St Martins moor was deserted bar one boat,  no one around all the way until New Marton Locks where we met up with other boats.  One boat ahead was just entering the lock and another was waiting above.  This meant we made good time through both locks.

As it was getting on for 2:30pm we decided to call it a day and found the Jack Mytton moorings free so pulled in.  The pub is now open so we booked a meal to try it out.

AmyJo tucked in between the boats and the pub grounds on the left of the picket fence
 The weather was settling down and the sun started to make an appearance.   With time on our hands Chris had an idea.

"Lets go for a walk" she said.
"The Narrow boat is not far" she said.
"Then you can have a pint" she said.

So of we set. Well after a mile and a half of the muddiest tow path in Wales we got to the Narrow Boat with wet feet, spitting feathers, to find...... it shut!  Remind me not to agree to Chris's ideas in future :-)  

The closed Narrow boat.  Usually open from 12:30 to 3Pm then 6pm in the evening.  We got there at 4pm
 Still every dark cloud has a silver lining and when we got back I got to enjoy a super pint of Cambrian Ale in the Jack Mytton.

Under new owners the Jack Mytton certainly did not disappoint
 In the evening we went in for a meal and I have to say the pub is nicely decorated and the food excellent.  The menu is a bit limited but the Sirlion steak is the best I've had in a good while so that made it OK.  Prices are on a par with most pubs but it's well worth a visit if you are passing.  

Next morning we left about 10:30am and cruised in dry but still chilly weather.  We passed Frankton junction and saw several boats waiting to go onto the Montgommery.  We decided to give it a miss this time so we could spend more time at places on the way back.

Waiting to lock down at Francton Junction
 At Broom Farm Moorings we came across this novel use for the washing machine.  Not sure if its the military's version of a mobile Laundrette or a civilian trying to start a different type of Laundry service for boaters.  You give them your washing and carry on cruising.  When its clean they drive it to you at your new location.   Can't see it working some how.

Mobile Laundrette Perhaps?
 We reached Ellesmere services about 3pm and pulled in for water.  The pressure here is not brilliant so whilst we waited we disposed of the rubbish and emptied cassette in the elsen.  Mean while a queue formed for water.  With so many boats about the inevitable had to happen and two hire boats met on the bend.  The boat going up stream refused to give way and the lady aboard though it hilarious that the other boater coming down stream was struggling as a result.  

Eventually with a full water tank we turned into the arm and was amazed to find it nearly empty.  We picked a spot mid way down in front of a moored boat.  Within the next 2 hours the arm filled up with boats so we got there at the right time.

We ate on board then went into town for a drink.  Last time we were here there was a folk night in the White Hart and to our surprise we had picked the right night as being the first Sunday of the month the folk night was on.  Needless to say we had a great night enjoying to great music.

Winding at the end of the arm was tight due to boats moored right to the end.

There are a lot of old and interesting places in the town like this antique shop, even the shop is antique.  

AmyJo moored in the arm and plenty of empty spaces for other boats to moor.
 One of the promises I made myself is that when retired I would try to walk more so with a day in hand Chris and I decided to walk to the nearby Mere.  There is a footpath from the canal that leads right to the Mere.

The going was a bit slippery in places

 On arrival at the mere useful maps gave the visitor clear directions of the walks around the area

Numerous scupture can be found along the way shown by
the red triangles
 Our route around the Mere took us past several of the sculptures.   Some of them one has to wonder why a large rock with a tiny model castle on top could be classed as a sculpture  but then others, like this one, clearly had a lot of thought and work put into them

Not paint work but the hull cut in such a way to represent ivy.  Must have taken ages to cut this out.
 Its no secret that Britain's bee population is in decline.  At the Mere you can find a large wicker bee atop a log hill.  The sculpture is specifically designed to attract bees and encourage them to nest.  There were none there that we could see but a plague does raise awareness of the bees decline and how this scupture could help to restore the balance.

Wicker bee should make a suitable bee nesting site
 It is not possible to walk all the way round the Mere but you can get most of the way round.  A section of the Mere is privately owned and not open to the public blocks a full circular route.  When you return the boat house cafe does the most delicious scones with a great cup of tea to refresh you.

The Boat hose Cafe seen from the opposite bank of the Mere

Ellesemere Church can clearly be seen along the Mere
 Another path took us back into the town and the canal.

We decided that as it was only 1pm we would wind and go to Blackwater marina for a pump out and diesel.  We winded and was just leaving the arm when coal boat Mountbatten appeared.  We hailed Jon and Hanna and quickly tied up for them to come alongside.  Good timing or what!

Hanna is expecting and is due in July.  They have purchased a butty to give them the room they will need when baby arrives as Hanna wants to say afloat.  We wish them all the best and hope all goes well when its time.
A heavily pregnant Hanna gives me the declaration form to fill in while Jon tops up AmyJo.
 We then moved to the mooring outside the Marina and had to wait an hour for the hire boat on the jetty to clear, then we entered and got our pump out.  

By now the sun was strong and it became t-shirt weather.  It was quite pleasant and we cruised to Ellesmere tunnel with the hood down and in the warmth for the rest of the day.

Almost empty moorings at Ellesmere tunnel

All clear so good to proceed
 Our plan was to stop at Blake Mere if the was any chance of a free mooring space.  When we got there we we stunned by the absence of boats and had the pick of any spot.

Blake Mare.  Where is everyone?
 We fully expected with the Easter Holiday for the cut to be busy here with moored boats but this year its been so quite so far.  Very few private boats about and mostly hire boats, but even then, very few compared to normal.

Just this one boat here so we pulled in.

Moored for the night

The view from the side doors
Tomorrow the plan is to cruise to Prees junction and have a reccy down the Whixall arm.

No comments: