Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Leaving town

So 48hrs tops mooring at the end of the line here at Llangollen town, so off we went.  We would have left at first light if it had been the two of us but as it happened, friends came over for the ride.  Ed and Jane arrived, they had driven from Leicestershire to spend the day with us.  

Frequent Flyers to this blog may remember Ed and Jane, they are farmers near to Crick and do B&B which us and the Boat Owners stayed in for several years running when visited the Crick Boat Show when were deciding to have a boat built. We four all had lots in common and unknown to us till this Feb, Ed has Welsh roots, both sides of his family hailed from this part of Wales BUT he has never been over the aqueduct.  Today that would change.

As they arrived it was raining with the forecast to clear up at ten am, so we drank coffee, filled with water then untied the ropes and reversed away, unknown to us two other boats left behind us away from our sight.

Grey to start with, this immediate section is über narrow, so I had hopped off and was walking fast ahead.

Town of Llangollen down below

The sun did come out.
I soon was warming up, I was running with my raincoat on and a fleece stupidly, I started to strip off as I scooted around the first bend, I came face to face with the first boat.  It was a hire boat driven by a Japanese couple, they were most polite of course and I explained that we were in the narrows and could they please wait here until we have passed?  Yes one boat I tried to explain, nods and smiles exchanged between us.   Phone calls going back and forth to David that yes he can proceed now, then another boat coming this one driven by two couples who were Polish and only one spoke English, 
high levels of hilarity fast setting in on my part....  

The phone goes, David hot under the collar as the boat with the Japanese couple had continued through, they squished past David but in the face of the now appeared boat coming up behind David had managed to go across the canal and get stuck and had I asked them to wait?......  I carried on.

So the canal winds on, and odd boats were coming but not too much trouble until we came up behind two wee hire Day boats, both being held on the bank by their crews and another moored right on a sharp bend, I hopped off to enquire, so this was the start of the next narrow section, so by now there were three boats behind David and these two Day boats in front, I walked around the corner to see if it was clear and it was, so we went ahead of one of the Day boats who were nervous, I carried on walking on lookout, 200 metres on and a boat comes into view, they are in the very narrow section, haven't sent a runner on ahead and there ensured a bit of a bunfight.

It was all sorted out within 45 mins or so, hahaha.

 So here we are on the second of the two aqueducts, now poor Jane has a terror of heights, we did our best to make her comfortable, she was a star and although her legs turned to jelly, she did it.  

Blue sky appearing...

On and just past these cottages are some cute bends and moorings allowed there too...  I was on the bow at this point, hanging onto the horn and directing the traffic.  It was just like the wild west when John Wayne is at the head of a wagon train and yells FORWARD and waves his stetson. 

A hire boat came towards us, he shot into a space and stayed there, there was another behind boat behind him so we pulled in and held WaL on the centre rope, I went and asked the hirer if he was going on, or could we go first?  The poor chap was actually shaking, he told me he needed a rest and god its mad here!  I told him to have a break, but to try to enjoy his holiday, to go really slowly and if you knock a boat at very slow speed no one will mind, best advice I could come up with on the spur of the moment. I really do feel this is a very challenging canal for novices...  

Here below are the pair of pretty pretty  cottages on the towpath.

We got to here and pulled in.  We had our car close by and we drove Ed and Jane back to Llangollen and to their own car, but before they left, it just happened that we were being taken out to dinner at The Corn Mill again,  Whoopee.

Dinner was terrific, again, this is all of us afterwards on the ancient bridge at Llangollen.  
Clouds had cleared and within the shot space of time of us all walking back to the cars, it had cleared completely.  We said our goodbyes until next time.
I was driving, and on the road back again towards Chirk, I turned the car around and headed back into Llangollen, the evening was just too stunning not to go up and look at the castle.    HERE

Quite a drive, up hill down dale a bit then up and up then finally along the very aptly named Panorama Walk a lane which had stunning views all across the whole area.  With no signage whatsoever and we followed our noses but eventually we did come across the castle on the horizon.

This is the view easterly-ish, lots of disputation as to which aqueduct this is, finally I proved my case.

Llangollen, David and the new rain coat.  Wall to wall sunshine.

Centrally in photo is the fabulous Old Corn Mill pub

Quite glad I wasn't employed to carry the stone up here.
As the light faded we took the very scenic root back again to Chirk to find WaL, and I won the disputation....

Ponty-wot not, not Chirk as David declared

We are home now for a period due to a bereavement.

Seeing as much as we can of Llangollen

The weekend in Llangollen, (Who can pronounce that correctly?), panned out very nicely thank you.  I am not sure of the exact day but we went on the steam train (I love steam trains)  we were fortunate as when we went the steam engine was working, (the following day was the "Diseasel"), steam engines are to my favourites.

Ticket brought and quick sticks we got a first class compartment to ourselves.  Whistle blows and the seat were tested for bounciness, they were average.  Not as bouncy as The Severn Railway two years ago. 

The valley that the train goes up is so very very beautiful, it goes along besides the river for lovely viewpoints.

After a picnic lunch with all the family, we all went in search of ice-creams in the town centre and walked alongside the river through the pretty park.

Supper was only cheese and biscuits!

The next morning we cycled further along the canal, on this section now is restricted to the horse drawn pleasure boats only,  its really only a feeder section now, we went to the Horseshoe Falls.  Just as how it had been said to me, all is now revealed.

The manmade Horseshoe Falls.

This is the off shoot that goes onto and makes up the canal, the river flows off to the right hand side of the picture.

The Falls in the distance and this is the inflow.

The river at this point has the manmade falls, part of this section of river is "Diverted' into the very beginning of the Llangollen Canal, it flows the length of the canal and eventually goes into a reservoir, but thats miles away.  So clearly at the start here, the river and the canal are at the same height, but not for long.  There's a wee building holding a pump, or something else thats makes a pump like noise and off it (the canal) goes, first stop The Chain Bridge Hotel.  

This place started life as a house cum office cum pub for the canal company while the Horseshoe Falls was built, offering accommodation, although this is not stated in the Hotel's history,   HERE,    I'm pretty sure I read it in the Llangollen museum.  It then became a small country pub and then small hotel in the 1920's and then I would imagine extended in the 1960's judging by the architecture.

This bridge was built in 1929 after the previous one had been washed away.  This photo of a photo in the hotel is of in the 70's when it flooded, its not clear I know but the white on the left of the photo is raging white water going over the bridge!  It held but was close in the 80's, but refurbished in 2015, so I feel very pleased to have walked over it, (Actually it bounced in a most disconcerting manner).

While we sat drinking coffee, a chap walked over the bridge and called to us, a tad bemused, we didn't know him....  but it turns out Glyn is a BlogReader, is on holiday here and recognised us!  Lovely chatting to you Glyn, I hope you have fun in Scotland.  

We cycled back towards the basin at Llangollen on the towpath only to hear another greeting of Hello Bloggers!  An unknown person this time, so hello to you too, sorry we didn't meet.

We knew it was coming and it did, rain I mean, we walked into town buying David a new rainproof jacket for the boat, then a visit to the museum of the town, then dinner at The Corn Mill, an exceptionally good establishment serving high quality food at reasonable prices.

I had paté, lamb in red wine and cherry and almond tart with custard.  I could hardly move afterwards....

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Big One, (This refers to the length of the posting too.)

Maybe make a cup of tea before starting all this...

We had noticed a pattern as we had loitered on this mooring, the many hire boats come out early morning, or rather what they think is early morning, then there is a bit of a lull, then mid to late afternoon it kicks off again with boats leaving the hire base at Trevor.  So, need I say more?  Some idiot put the insomniac in charge of the alarm clock, and slightly after first light we were off.  
On this occasion I did agree with the insomniac as we evidently have a narrow spot to get through and its best not to meet people coming the other way.

Quite nice watching someone else do the lift bridges.....
Its coming.....

Oh gawd

I felt slightly better walking alongside a boat

But only slightly
I could hardly look at Jeff

He didn't seem to care

"Smile" I called, I have got to drive this thing he yelled back

One side, Holy Cow!
Selfie Sticks forever

So Reader you can tell from this one that there is nothing holding you up there, the boat is hanging on by the skin of yer teeth, on a bridge that feels like its made of lego with no sides.  Nobody show my mother these, she thinks I wear a life jacket not a parachute. 

Thank goodness when we passed over the Sellotape join in the structure getting you onto dry land, sort of.

Then there is a sharp turn in the canal to take you to the town of Llangollen which is the end of the canal, or the beginning depending on your point of view.

It was now about 7am by now and no boats anywhere.  The trees gave way so we were on an elevated position with the river way down below and view of the hills all around.  No wonder people come here for their holidays, its as beautiful as anywhere in Europe.

It certainly is more narrow than we have been on, even a narrower than that stretch before the Chirk Aqueduct, but David was pretty cool, happy in the idea we wouldn't meet any boats, Oh bugger here's one.....  No great shakes, but I left coffee making and went back to the nose and be the lookout.

Little did I realise that things could only get narrower and they quickly did.... take a look;

I was right on the pointy end warning of boats coming

This is a lay-by 

Everyone said it was narrow but.....?

Lovely gardens we didn't really get chance to look at.

As you can see I was on the path now running to get ahead.

A wall of rock into which men with picks and shovels built a canal.

Now here not unreasonably, I did wonder if we were going to get wedged......

Concrete edges, no rubber lining or wood to help.

Jeff's turn to be runner now, second attempt at this corner.

Virtually there now

By the time we got here, I was pretty blasé and felt it had really widened out.   This is the old wharf for Llangollen and today its for trip boats, horse drawn and motor narrowboats, past here is the basin to park in.  £6 a night and all the leckkie you can drink and water on your pontoon.  Moored up and pleased with ourselves we went back to the wharf café for a bacon sandwich which Jeff was gagging for.

Other family arrived from their house a few towns away and joined us for these.

Biggest bacon sandwich ever.

After a picnic lunch in the sun we didn't really want dinner.