Good Bye Llangollen, Hello Shroppie

After Sunday’s beautiful weather, Monday brought back the April showers.

At the top of Hurleston locks we stopped to take on domestic water. In the squally rain, and a cutting sharp breeze we descended the four locks. John did the locking, helped by C&RT Volunteer Lockies (thank you Lockies), and I manoeuvred Cyan through the locks, battling the fast flowing by-wash which pushed Cyan away from the direction I wanted her to take. The strong blustery wind didn’t do us any favours either.

Hurleston Junction is at the bottom of the locks, which is the end (or the beginning) of the Llangollen Canal, and is where we take a left turn.  Turning left was ‘again’ a bit of a battle as the wind wanted us to turn right! With a sharp blast of forward-thrust letting Cyan know who’s in charge, it was a relief when she started to pivot to the left!

We didn’t have to cruise on the Shroppie main line too long, as we turned right onto the Middlewich Branch. Just before Cholmondeston Lock (#1), we moored Cyan in the shelter of a tall, yet thick hedge. We were ‘snuggled’ out of the cold north wind for the night.

This morning we woke to a glorious sunny day, yet remains of an overnight hailstorm still on the towpath! The ‘weather man’ said it wouldn’t last, so a decision was made to forgo breakfast, and to get ‘the show’ on the road while the sun shines.

Picture of me and a volunteer lockie, helping Cyan down through Cholmondeston Lock. It’s a deep lock at around 12 ft.

John said it was “Dark down there…!”

John took this pic as he and Cyan left Minshull Lock. This lock’s not as deep than Cholmondeston.

Pootling along was very pleasant as the canal looked ‘down’ over the beautiful Weaver Valley.  The above pic shows us cruising through an aqueduct over the River Weaver.

This pic doesn’t do justice to the magnificent view over the valley – it’s a glorious view.

This lucky milking herd were busy enjoying the lush grass, we couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if one of the cows fell in… would it be able to get out?

The tow path has been freshly mown this morning, and what with the neatly cut hedges, it shows the canal in a wonderful light.

Here’s mother duck with her gorgeous, and hilariously cute family.

This is our ‘home’ for the night, and our exclusive ‘garden’ has been freshly cut for our enjoyment.  We must be blessed!

We visited this marina when we were looking at boats, but forgot where it was.  Places look very different when travelling by car as opposed to a narrowboat.  We were very impressed with this marina, their helpful friendly staff, and the standard of their facilities is first class.  As we passed we took a pic of their sign for details, as we just might be spending time here during some of the winter months.

Catching Up On The Llangollen Canal

We’re spending this blustery sunny day moored up on the Llangollen Canal. We’ve got over 45 Mg of WiFi, which makes this a good day to catch up with blogging our adventures on NB Cyan.

We’ve had some serious ‘ticking off’ from friends, complaining that we’re not keeping the blog up to speed, and to be honest we’re missing it too because it’s our diary of where we’ve been, when we did it, and without some sort of record, it appears we loose our ‘register’!  When everyday is a new adventure, with new ground (or water) being intrepidly discovered, plus with both our failing memory recall, Cyan’s blog (our on-line diary) is a must for us.

When we first planned this trip from Trinity Marina, to Llangollen Canal Basin, starting on 13th February, we anticipated it would take 25 days…. well here we are at 26 days over plan, and we’re ‘Not There Yet’, which brings to mind the name of the boat we passed yesterday – the boat was aptly called ‘Theft of Time’!

Yesterday after leaving ‘our overnight spot’ on the Shropshire Union Canal, which was just past Overwater Marina, and before Bennets Bridge No 80, we’d decided to have a more leisurely day after the ‘marathon’ 15 locks at Audlem. Our plan was to skip down the last two locks of the Shroppie, fill up our water tank, and moor up just before Hurleston Junction, and where we turn ‘left’ onto the Llangollen Canal.

We had a brilliant cruise through Nantwich. Many boaters were sitting on their boat’s decks enjoying the welcome Spring sunshine, and quite a few were feeling energetic enough to give their boat a good polish.  On passing one of the ‘gleaming’ boats, John had to comment to the owner on his boats appearance.  The boater offered up his bottle of ‘baby oil’ he was using to polish his boat, and with a mutter he said something like “Don’t tell ‘her’ up in front”!

When we got to our planned mooring, we thought we’d be settled until the morning.  The washing line ‘twirly thing’ was set up, and charged with washing to be dried.  But that was before a boat went past, and even though it went past gently, it caused an almighty crash to our boat as it hit something near the bank.

Under CC Attribution – with thanks to Chris Jones

On inspection of our mooring, we discovered there was a sort of shelf, under the water, which was causing Cyan to crash into it.  After several boats went past, we decided to dismantle the washing drying, and cast off, with me striding out over the ‘Hurleston Rover Bridge No. 97’ to set the lock which is at the entrance to the Llangollen Canal.

We swapped lock duty when the boat was raised, and it was safe to board Cyan (and unboard her), with John on lock duty for the flight of 4 locks.

We’re now ‘sitting pretty’ on ‘Burland Visitor Moorings (North), just before Lee’s Bridge No. 4!

Fair Exchange Was Robbery!

After April 1st when her indoors felt we needed to ‘exchange’ duties, i.e. “Your turn to work the locks!”, my shoulders recovered well from the 5 locks down at Adderley that day. “Are you fit to continue?” she asked!  Yes Mam ready to go again. I should have known that there was a catch….hmmmm. Just about a mile from our overnight came the first of 15 locks in the Audlem flight! Male pride, ego, stubbornness or what, this was a challenge not to be passed over!

The sun was up as we reached the first lock which was set against us, the chamber had to be filled before we could descend to the lower level. Lots of windless twirling later we were off….. Another lock, and we came across a boater coming UP the locks….., so we now had lock chambers full, no need for windlass twirling before descending, great!

Under Bagley Lane Bridge (#76) the full extent of the Audlem flight came into view. Oh my giddy aunt!

Windlass twirling is a very sociable occupation, I met several ladies, doing ‘men’s work’, pausing for a chat, tips on best lock technique, things to observe during our planned voyage. There was an ‘Honesty Box’ half way down the flight, with free range eggs and cakes for sale. Just leave the money in the cashbox……..

I had started the day with 3 layers of clothing, but by now I was down to tee shirt and jeans. As the locks are fairly close together it is impractical to ride, so walking to the next lock is the norm…….., I didn’t realise I would be walking the mile and a half to Audlem as well as windlass twirling. It was at this point I realised the exchange of duties was robbery!

Under Audlem bridge before lock 13 there appeared a pub! The Shroppie Fly, I insisted we moor up and take some well earned refreshment, well it would be rude not too 🙂

Oh no the pub was closed?

Change of management or something, but it was securely locked on a gloriously sunny Sunday lunchtime!

Fortunately there was an alternative source of refreshment, the Bridge Inn was serving Marstons……..

Suitably refreshed we returned to CYAN and ready to take on the last 3 locks. As we were about to board a stranger approached us, enquiring about the boat, how long had we been on the network. All the usual questions boat owners like to talk about! This polite, neatly turned out gentleman (John) was from the ‘Friends of the Canal & River Trust’. It was like the moment at motorway services when the ‘AA’ man asks you ” Are you a member sir?” We were hooked!

Twenty minutes later we were signed up for a £5 monthly donation to the trust and given badges, books, leaflets and magazines. Well it is for a good cause eh……., well done John, excellent sales technique ……

The final 3 locks were accompanied by several Gongoozler moments, it was warm sunshine, a Sunday afternoon, and they were a friendly lot. One couple had just moved to Audlem and didn’t know there was a canal nearby! We discussed the history and engineering and they vowed to take out a hire boat to try boating for themselves!

Completed Audlem Locks

At last Lock 15………yes. Now for some TV footy and a relax with a can or two