Daisypath - Anniversary

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Day 14 and 15 Barbridge to Bunbury

Yesterday we made the last short run of the trip to Bunbury Wharf.  Along the way we stopped off at the Calverley services to top up with water and use the showers.  Whilst there butty Saturn passed by with her tow Dane heading for the port museum.

Motor Dane pulling Saturn pass us at Calverley

Saturn is always instantly recognisable even before you see her cabin
 We pulled into a vacant mooring just above the staircase at Bunbury for the night and watched as two by two the old work boats locked through.

Lindsay and Keppel

The King and Ilford

The King
 This morning I got on and made some apple pies for Chris to take down to Essex for my parents.  They turned out very Kipling (exceedingly good if I may say so myself).  She will be gone over the holiday weekend and I'll be laying new decking and path at the house.  

After lunch, and after Smudge's walk, we moved AmyJo down onto the Anglo Welsh Wharf as all their boats bar one are out.   I feel for the owners of the boats on the moorings above the locks.  We were only there a few hours this morning before we moved but got bashed several times by passing or waiting boats.  We even had crews jumping on and off the boat!  Where has respect for other peoples property gone these days?  Bet they would not like it if I kept driving a 30 ton truck into their homes or their cars heh?

We'll now be here for the coming week for two reasons.  One, AmyJo is booked to go into their poly tunnel to finally get her gunwales repainted plus a few rust spots on the roof dealt with.  Second, as payment, I am going to help out around the yard during the week preparing for their open day on the 23rd (all are welcome by the way) and just doing general jobs where needed.  I'll also be helming their day boat doing free trips along the cut and back for taster sessions.  I really enjoy that so look forward to then.

Total distance:2.79 miles Elapsed time:2h12m59s Locks:0 Bridges:5 
Average speed:1.26 mph (1.26 lock/mph)

Easter Cruise Day 13 Willey Moor Lock to Barbridge

A slightly better morning today and an early start at 8am for us.   Daughter Joanne wanted to visit so we arranged to meet her at the Barbridge Inn as this was easy for her to get to.  Setting off early meant we would get there mid afternoon all being well and, as it happened, all was well.

Lovely views as we passed through the rural areas.
 As we approached the liftbridge at Wrenbury we found the crews of nb Storyteller and nb Grandad Dyer readying to get under way.  Apparently they got stuck for two hours at Quosey Lock last night as they could not close the gate and called out C&RT to fix it.  It was fine for us this morning

The lady on nb Grandad Dyer was already waiting to lift the bridge as we approached. We paused and waited for the others to round the corner then, all three boats passed under the bridge in quick succession. We then went on ahead and opened the next bridge and allowed the other two boats to carry on their way.

nb Storyteller following us and nb Grandad Dyer just going under the bridge

Chris goes on ahead to lift the next bridge for us all;.
 We next met Storyteller and Grandad Dyer at the Baddiley Locks.  Working together we got through them quite quickly.  I never did get their names so apologies if you are reading this.  It was a pleasure cruising with you for a while.

Chris and the Lady from nb Grandad Dyer work the locks together even though her boat was through the lock.
 The run from the locks to Hurleston is quite straight and nondescript.  One can see a long way ahead through the bridge 'oles.  StoryTeller and Grandad Dyer both stopped for diesel at Swanley Marina and we waved them goodbye as we passed.

Nothing to see for miles
At Burland we passed Mountbatten and her butty sitting all on their own.  We understand they are now up for sale.

Shame the coal runs have finished.  John and Hnanah did a great job.
We locked down Hurlston Locks in record time.  We were the only boat coming down and very time the gates opened for me a boat was just leaving the lower lock.  In fact I was surprised when we pulled into the bottom lock.  It normally takes a lot longer to get up or down these locks.

Closing the top gate on the second lock down
We were lucky to get a spot at the Barbridge Inn as there were boats pulling in all the time.  One small historic tug had hogged most of the moorings outside the pub and only moved back when their freind in another old boat pulled up.  Turns out there is an historic boats rally at the Ellesmere Port Museum over Easter weekend and the boats were making their way there.

We got in opposite the pub and deployed the anti shelf devices again to good effect.  Joanne joined us at 4pm and we then went over and had a meal to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, 12th.

Total distance:11.42 miles Elapsed time:6h19m11s Locks:11 Bridges:32 
Average speed:1.81 mph (3.55 lock/mph)

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Cruise Day 12 Whitchurch to willey Moor Lock

Sorry for not posting the last few days.  To much going on in the evening left little time to post.  We are now moored for a while at Bunbury but here is the rest of the cruise story so far.

We'd had some rain overnight so when we emerged the day was cold, breezy and overcast.  Chris wanted to go into town to get some sunglasses but now the weather is changing there seemed no point but we still went for they anyhoo.

Chris got her sun glasses and we headed back to AmyJo but somehow we got a little off track and came across these lovely buildings.

This building was the former School house built with funding from the will of Jane Higginson.  The will left instructions to build the school house for teaching poor children.  Up to 1897 it had be used primarily as girls school but the school moved to another building as more and more children were attending.  It then was used as an infant school.

The former schoolhouse for the poor
St Alkmund's Church is just up the road. Alkmund was one of the sons of King Alhred of Northumbria. The succession was disputed by a usurper, Eardwulf, who killed Alkmund's father and brother, and then Alkmund, in 800 AD.

St Alkmunds church
Alongside the school house is another lovely looking building, the former Grammar school.  The school was founded in 1550 by Cannon Sir John Talbot who gave a fee of £200 to Thomas glaton to establish a school free from church control.  The present building of 1848 is actually a reconstruction and is thought to be similar to the original.  It has now been convered into flats.

The lovely form grammar school building now flats

When we got back to AmyJo we had lunch and then got underway.  Taking the painkillers and the walk had eased my back to a comfortable ache up to now.

After stopping for water at Grindley Brook we met the Nb Story Teller and nb Grandad Dyer at Povey's lock.  The lady from nb Grandad Dyer helped Chris reset the lock before returning to her own boat.  We then repeated this at Willey Moor Lock where we moored up for the night intending to try the pub when it opened at 6pm as it has never been open went we past it in previous years.

Closed as we descend the lock but open after 6pm

After dinner we took the short walk back to the pub and had a pleasant pint there.  Its a lovely little pub and a bit querky with all its ornate tea pots and Toby uugs everywhere.

Very ornate tea pots here
and there

Total distance:2.82 miles Elapsed time:3h8m16s Locks:8 Bridges:7 
Average speed:0.90 mph (3.45 lock/mph)

Easter cruise Day11 Cole Mere to Whitchurch arm

We woke undisturbed this morning to bright and for once, warm sunshine.  After the usual routine we got underway at 9am as is now the norm for us.  

It was a steady run  with not much worthy of a mention until we got to Hampton Bank.  We had seen this boat with the most unusual name called "Luckie Mucklebackit" on our way upstream and it was only now this evening we found the significance of it.  More later.

The Luckie Mucklebackit is a bit of a celebrity around this area.
We had a lovely cruise past Bettisfield passing several boats, well the season is now getting into full swing so its to be expected.  Our plan was to moor just before Prees junction and walk the Mosses with Smudge.  

All was going to plan and we manage to moor on the visitor moorings before the Junction.  Whilst tying the lines a familiar 
twinge was felt in my back and as I stood up a searing pain confirmed my back had gone.  The usual muscle spasm that has plagued me for years came back to haunt me after a good spell with out it occurring.

Chris so wanted to walk the mosses I persuaded her to go on whilst I settled down with some pain killers.  It was looking like we were going to be here for the night.

The Bettisfield mosses straddle the English border, near Whitchurch and Wrexham.  They lie in  one of the biggest and best raised bogs in Britain. Its astonishingly varied wildlife makes it a place of international importance.

Part of Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog they are now a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have been restoring the Mosses, since large-scale commercial peat cutting was stopped in 1990. This preserves the irreplaceable record of our past in the peat, conserves rare boggy biodiversity, provides wider environmental benefits and mitigates climate change by keeping the peat carbon stored in the bog.

Chris and Smudge followed one of three routes through the mosses, theirs taking in 1.5 miles of a circular walk

The end of the walk brought them back to the canal and a much appreciated cuppa and spot of lunch.

By now the pain killers were doing their job and my back felt good enough to continue cruising.  Chris slipped the lines and we got underway again.

First job was to make the left turn and pass through the lift bridge 45, an unusually low bridge whose deck sits on the canal surface.  We could see to boats approaching in the distance but they seemed to take forever to even begin to get close.  We opted to closed the bridge as traffic was building and left them to operate it when they finally got there some time later.

No passing under this lift bridge unless you are in a mini sub.
At the next lift bridge 42 another boat was already there and her crew opening the bridge.  We waited in the ever increasing breeze making holding staion tricky and once through their crew motioned us through which we obliged.  Poor woman than had to wait as two more hire boat crept towards the bridge coming from the opposite direction to us.  She did not look too pleased they were taking their time.  As we passed them we asked them to get a move on or she would have to close the bridge on them.

We finally reached Whitchurch but not before threading our way through all the boats at the viking boats yard.  I just got through the bridge before meeting boats coming upstream past the yard.  It was a bit of threading the needle but we got through unscathed.

On winding in the arm we moored up in exactly the same sport we did on our outward journey last week.

Now, back to the Luckie Mucklebackit.  At the entrance to the Whitchurch arm a new memorial garden has been created in memory of Mike Johnson, who it appears, was the late owner of the Mucklebackit.  Seems he was a very active member of the Shropshire Union Society and played a big part in the upkeep and restoration of the canal hereabouts as well as the Montgommery canal.  The Whitchurch Arm Society owe him a lot for the current excellent condition of the arm.

Oh, and on further investigation it seems the Luckie Mucklebackit was also a steam locomotive.  Ironic that a narrowboat should sport the name of a train  (or is it the other way round) that in a way helped to kill off the working boats in the end.

Total distance:10 miles Elapsed time:4h37m32s Locks:0 Bridges:23 
Average speed:2.22 mph (2.22 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Easter Cruise Day 10 - New Marton to Cole Mere

We were having a lovely sleep until we were rudely awakened by a speeding boat passing us at 6:30am.  AmyJo lurched over alarmingly and came upright again.  The fenders screeched against the armco and twang of rope could be heard as AmyJo strained at her mooring lines.

By time I got out of bed the boat was disappearing into the fog that shrouded us.  They must have come down the lock and been in a hurry to meet a deadline to be back at the hire base which I doubt they could make.  It looked like one of the ABC Leisure boats from Wrenbury Mill.  Their boats have been a real pain all week.  Not one of them slowing down as they pass.  Oblivious of the consequences of their actions they just smile and wave.  One was going so fast he laughed as AmyJo lurched.  He got a right mouthful from me and he looked very sheepish as he carried on.  I'll be looking out for him down the line.

The fog was masking the lock from view.
 By the time we got underway the sun had burnt off the fog and a clear bright morning resulted.  Not as cold as yesterday the day warmed quicker and jumpers were not needed for the first time.

A quiet run down to Frankton junction passing the occasional hire boat.  No locking is allowed at weekends onto the Montgommery so no boats waiting there this time.

Deserted Frankton locks
 A bit further on we came across these clumps of grass.  They gave the impression of shaggy dogs drinking at the waters edge.  We don't know what type of grass they are but there used to be a lot more of them as I recall from previous trips.

Grassy humps along the waters edge
 We often see lots of boats with boater's gold piled all over the roofs but this chap clearly like things neat and tidy.  I've never seen wood cut and stacked so neatly.

Every log was cut to identical length and size then stacked ever so neatly
We pulled into the Ellesmere arm so Chris could do a quick shop at Tescos.  Whilst there I rang the marina to ask if we could diesel up aware Saturdays are busy turn around days for their hire fleet and was told yes they could help.  I expected to be told no but was asked to stop in the marina entrance which we did as there was no room to get fully in and onto to the fuelling jetty.   No one could come in or out of the marina with AmyJo in the entrance.  The staff were very accommodating and even helped when we reversed out of the marina entranced.

In fact the chap filling our tank, in conversation, confirmed our suspicion and told us bookings for the hire fleet have indeed shot up as a result of the Carry on Barging program.  All their boats were out last week and all were leaving today.  Silly season is well on the way now on the Llangollen canal.

At 3pm we stopped in our favourite mooring spot at Blake Mere but shortly after mooring we were invaded by fishermen who set up tents blocking any view of the lake and shot stabbing glances at us every time we made a noise, which only made us make more of course :-)

We took Smudge for a walk and found another nice mooring spot further on at Cole Mere so moved the mile downstream.

Fishermen starting to set up camp right outside
 Once settled on the new mooring we took a stroll around Cole mere and took a peek at the dinghies at the Cole Mere Sailing Club.

AmyJo on her Cole Mere Mooring

Lime Kiln Cottage marks the start of a circular lake walk.

The Cole Mere from the opposite bank

Cole Mere Sailing Club in the distance
 When we got back to AmyJo we found an ABC hire boat aground opposite.  He was trying to drive the boat forward to get unstuck.  When he dropped the revs  I called "try reversing off your only driving yourself further onto the obstruction".  I got a very nasty look and a kurt "I know Mate".   With my advise soundly rebuffed I said no more and sat watching the entertainment.  Eventually after 20 minutes he finally decided to do what I suggested and got on his way yelling at his poor wife who had done her best with the pole on the bow.  Seems it was her that put them aground in the first place.

Having worn the three of us out we sat in the cratch with a drink watching the world speed by.  Literally, every boat except one (all hire boats) passed at a rate of knots.  The one that did not, interestingly, is the only one helmed by a young lady.  (No I'm not going to start a sexist debate either!)  I swear if this continues I will do the same in future.  I know, that's not helping is it.  I'll still slow and show them the correct way to pass.

Eventual peace and calm.

Total distance:7.89 miles Elapsed time:4h02m19s Locks:0 Bridges:25 
Average speed:2.39 mph (2.39 lock/mph) 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Dya 9 Llangollen to New Marton Bottom lock

A long day ahead of us today.  We crept out of the wharf at 8am being only the second boat to leave.  

Chris had walked on ahead as scout but not long into the cruise, and in the narrow single way section, we came across a family of new born ducklings.  Then a few tense minutes as 3 of the ducklings got separated from the main brood with mum and dad ducks on the port side.  The 3 ended up on the starboard side.  I had to steer with precision as one mistake and I could have easily crushed any one of them and I was desperate for that not to happen. 

Fortunately mother duck finally held the rest of her brood back but the three errant ducklings insisted on staying alongside AmyJo.  Still they persisted chasing along with us risking being crushed or sucked into the prop.   To avoid this I had to keep putting AmyJo into neutral as they neared the back of the boat but that only helped the ducklings stay with me.   I had to wait until they were at last down by the back deck to use my hand to shoo them off and out of danger.  Eventually after trying to catch up they gave up and I could breath again.  I don't know what I'd have done if they were harmed.  I'd never forgive myself.

Safe at last but the 3 duckateers still chasing after us at the foot of the photo
The rest of the trip to the junction was uneventful, passing only 3 boats coming up stream.  By now the sun was out but still every cold so coats remained on.

Dappled sunshine all around.  I just love it when its this good

The  lack of wind made for some lovely reflections in the clear water
We made the turn at Trevor and with the aqueduct clear continued onto it.  We have been over the Pontcysyllte several times now but we still enjoy every minute of the trip and is why we do this every year.

On completion of the turn I line AmyJo up to go onto the aqueduct
Half way along the aqueduct Smudge decided he was going to get off and proceeded to walk alongside for a while.  As he was still on his lead a couple coming the other way must have thought we were using him to pull the boat along.  It certainly looked that way with Smudge pulling at the lead.  We got him back aboard before we left the narrows.

Dog drawn boat crossing the aqueduct
 Just as we left the aqueduct a hire boat could be seen starting to cross behind us.  When we got to the lift bridge at Froncysyllte there was no sign of them. We had, however, passed the sweet boat on our way so we're guessing they had succumbed to temptation.  I know we nearly did.

Waiting for the lift bridge and not sign of the hire boat
 With the flow now with us we made good time to the two New Marton locks and for the first time since we left Tattenhall we joined a queue of 3 boats waiting to go down.  The two lead hire boats were cruising together and their numerous crews made short time of locking the boats down so we did not wait too long.  They even offered to help Chris with the lock wheeling but she thanked them and let them on their way.

Waiting at the top lock in the warming sunshine.
 It was now 1pm and the sun was warming the day nicely.  First off came the coats and then the jumper.  I'm glad there was no need to strip off any further.

Never far away are the police training helicopters.  This one passing close, slow and low.
Having got through the locks we found a very nice sunny spot so decided to stop here for the night.  It got that warm we tempted fate and got the chairs out and did a spot of sunbathing on the tow path (not a pretty sight).  Smudge was so laid back he sprawled himself across the gunwale and dosed all afternoon.  Waking only to give the odd woof at passing boats before dropping of to sleep again.

Our first hot day so it would be rude not to chill and enjoy it

Mum and dad can work the boat I'll keep the gunwale warm for them.

Total distance:12.44 miles Elapsed time:6h19m52s Locks:2 Bridges:30 
Average speed:1.96 mph (2.28 lock/mph)