Venturing Onto The Montgomery Canal

It’s been a pretty ‘gruelling’ week as we’ve been continually on the go, and when we’ve moored up, we’ve felt shattered. Fresh air can be very tiring! It wasn’t until we cruised down from Llangollen did we realise how difficult, and hard on the engine, it was battling against the daily 12 million gallons of water flowing down the canal, and flowing against us.

We found a nice mooring, with a reasonable digital TV signal, and WiFi, and we settled down for a couple of days to catch up on chores. John was desperate to check the engine’s oil level, and clear the weeds and other possible dross that could have collected around the propeller. Luckily the engine didn’t need topping up with oil, although the weed hatch investigation discovered a knotted length of rope had wound itself around the propeller shaft.

Mother nature has decorated the old bridge’s ‘message cubby hole’ with a window box!

As we had time to spare, and were moored just around the corner from the entrance of the Montgomery, John thought it would be a great opportunity to venture down the ‘Monty’.  The Monty is in the process of being reclaimed after from being abandoned. The canal fell into disuse following a breach in 1936, and was officially abandoned in 1944. Some thirty or so years later, enthusiasts started to reclaim the canal, and work is still being continued to bring the whole canal back to life. Presently only half the canal is navigable to a boat like ours.

The canal is being heralded as a nature reserve, and only 12 boats a day are allowed to venture onto the canal. Passage onto the canal has to be booked in advance.  There are two lock-keepers in charge, and they help boats navigate two single locks, and a double lock (staircase) at the entrance to the Monty. Everyday there’s just a two hour slot (noon till 2 pm) where boats can pass through the locks.

This is us on Thursday at 11.30 a.m., waiting to be escorted down the locks.

Cyan sitting in the first lock, waiting while the lock-keepers organise boats coming up to rejoin the Llangollen.

There’s not much water on the Montgomery, so it’s important the water flow is managed.  Unfortunately, another boater on his way up wasn’t listening too well to the lock-keepers, and caused a bit of chaos as three boats (including Cyan) grounded in the lock pound.  After rocking Cyan from side to side, John managed to free her while I watched helplessly on the bank.

The canal is very quiet as you can imagine. When we approached the Aston Locks, I saw a man in the distance hopping over the lock gates towards the brick hut on the other side.  As I volunteered to do the locking, I jumped off Cyan at the ‘lock landing’, expecting to see another boat using the lock. But the man had disappeared, and there was no boat. I was a bit worried that he was hiding in the hut for some reason; the hut was derelict and had part of the roof missing.  The hairs on the back of my head were electrified, the situation was just so odd.

On the way back, I was still on lock duty, and feeling really nervous about the ‘horrible’ feeling at the lock; my antennae were sticking well out!  After Cyan got through the lock, and I had jumped back on Cyan, John looked quizzical, and wondered where the man had gone.  “What man? I didn’t see a man!” Apparently while John was busy manoeuvring Cyan, trying to stop her from getting stuck/grounding on the shallow water as she approached the lock, he saw a man, dressed in dark clothing on the towpath. I felt ill!

At the next lock, while waiting for the lock to empty, I met a lady and her dog. We had a little chat before she walked on towards the ‘spooky’ lock.  I didn’t say anything about the ‘disappearing man’, but when I was working the third lock, the lady walked back towards us, saying she turned around before the (spooky) lock.  Did she unconsciously feel uncomfortable and turned round?

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.  Kids and adults were having a great game of water polo (?) in canoes. This looked great fun! We spoilt their fun, as obviously they had to get out of the way, and they had to slide their ‘goal nets’ out of the way for us to pass.

A historic wharf and warehouse looked in splendid condition. The image of ‘turn-around bridge’ clearly demonstrates how the horses, who pulled the barges of old, would be taken over the bridge when the towpath changed sides.

This is the other side of the bridge.

A delight to see the first sighting of bluebells!





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