We spent last night at a lovely spot just outside Chirk Marina, and with over 50 Mg of WiFi. It was a glorious Spring day yesterday with temperatures around 18C. The evening was soft, and all three of us sat outside listening to the hedgehogs shuffling through the undergrowth of a hedge.
The day started early, and we must have cruised for 7 hours, stopping only once for a brunch. We had two locks to manoeuvre, meeting hire boats descending on each lock. Both boat parties were full of bounce and obviously enjoying their experience. Etiquete has it that when you leave the lock, all paddles are down and gates shut. Unfortunately the first party thought they set the paddles down, but unfortunately not all the way, resulting is the lock taking an age to fill up, until we realised! Happy holiday makers is going to be a ‘happy’ learning curve.
At the second lock, it was the hire boat’s party’s first lock experience. I was greeted with a panic stricken mother who was worried they was holding us up. She was soon reassured that no one rushes about on the canal system, and that when their boat is in the lock, they own the lock! There was another excited little person in that party, he was about 5, and couldn’t wait to gush that “Granny had fallen in the canal!” Poor Granny, on her first day, at 8 a.m. that morning, had managed to be a ‘woman overboard’!
Canal holiday makers have added a whole new dimension to life on the canal, one that looks like a lot of fun!
The scenery looks beautiful and serene, but little did we realise we’re quickly approaching Chirk Aqueduct and Tunnel!
The thought did pass our minds; what would happen if ever the canal breached here! Amazing views right over the valley.
The Chirk Aqueduct crept up on us quickly. Problem: We had attempted to moor up for the day at a visitor’s mooring, only to find the ‘mooring rings’ set into the concrete towpath were too far apart, it meant our mooring ropes would have to stretch several yards at each end of the boat. We aborted the mooring, in favour of another visitor’s mooring area a little further on, but rather lazily we left two fenders hanging from the boat in readiness for the nearby mooring. The mooring we had in mind was in a dip, and experience has taught us that’s not good for WiFi nor TV reception, so we pootled on to what we thought was another nearby mooring. Wrong… straight in front of us was the aqueduct, and we had our fenders out! No worries, we’re ‘big, brave boaters’ now, and the fenders were quickly retrieved.
Chirk Aqueduct is a 70 ft (21 metres) high and 710-foot long that stretches across the Ceiriog Valley. The Aqueduct was started in 1796, and it opened in 1801!
This is all good training as we’re venturing across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct today, which is 38 metres high!
The ‘bridge’ above carries the railway.
Only one boat at time can use the Aqueduct for obvious reasons – yet that didn’t appear to deter a hire boat attempting to come towards, venturing to ‘share’ the Aqueduct with us. A quick blast of our horn ‘woke’ the happy holiday makers from their mistake.
Straight from the Aqueduct, there’s the Tunnel! At 421 metres long, I was very pleased when we passed through it. Not before yet another ‘happy hire boat’ tried to join coming in the opposite direction. In the tunnel we met two single cyclists on the towpath….. how could they venture in there alone? Gives me collie-wobbles to even think of it!