Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Plank Lane to Top Lock Wigan - Leeds & Liverpool

We moored on the offside just before Plank Lane lift Bridge and completed a circular walk stopping for a pint in the 'Nevison' (a quirky cosy pub just 400 yards down the road from the lift bridge).

Cosy in the Nevison Pub 
The following day we waited until 9.45am  to go through Plank Lane lift bridge as you are unable to use it during rush hour due to the volume of traffic.  A newly built marina is next to the bridge and boats are already moored here with new houses under construction surrounding it. 

On route to Wigan we stopped off at Leigh for provisions (a handy Aldi is next to the canal with mooring rings).

We then moored at the bottom of the Wigan flight in anticipation of the ascent the following day.  Due to water shortages, CRT are only opening the locks from 8am to 9am and for exiting the locks from 2.00pm to 3pm.

Damaged lock gates
At 8am we set off, luckily we shared the locks with another boat, 'Moongazer' with a crew of three once we had tied the boats together.
  It went really smoothly and we all worked really well together.  Approximately half way up the flight CRT assisted us through one lock as the bottom gates were damaged  due to an over zealous boater the previous week.  We completed it in 4 hours!!! a new record and to celebrate, we all enjoyed a well earned pint or two at the Kirkless Hall pub.

......Another summer has come to an end, we have had an enjoyable trip on the Llangollen canal.   We extend our thanks to family and friends who have kindly ferried us about and who have also joined us for some wonderful times over the summer.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater Canal

Over the last couple of weeks,we have cruised the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, onto the Trent and Mersey for a short while and onto the Bridgewater Canal on our return journey.
The Penny Black - Northwich 
  We have taken our time and enjoyed visiting some lovely places on the way:

A 30 minute walk from the Lion Salt Works moorings  on the Trent and Mersey Canal takes you into Northwich, a small town but caters for all ,with plenty of supermarkets, shops, bars and cafes.

We enjoyed a cuppa and cake in the Wetherspoons pub 'The Penny Black' the building was purpose built in 1914, as the town’s main post office. When it was built, it was the town’s ‘largest liftable building’. It is a timber-framed structure that was used in Northwich so that they can be jacked back into position, following subsidence. 

Pegasus Crossing (pelican crossing for horses)

Whilst on the Bridgewater Canal We moored at Moorefield Bridge and walked to Daresbury village.  We were fascinated to see a 'Pegasus Crossing', specifically for horses.  The village was in preparation for the annual 'Creamfields' festival.  Daresbury is the birthplace of Lewis Carroll, there is a really interesting information centre about him attached to 'All Saints Church.'   Even the local school had a weather vane with Alice in Wonderland characters, well worth the visit.

We also moored at Pickering Bridge (19) and had a walk on the Transpennine Trail to the Manchester Ship Canal to see 'Latchford Locks'.

Latchford Locks 
  The locks are huge.  The large lock was built for ocean-going vessels and a smaller lock to its south for coasters, tugs and barges.
Deer Park  - Dunham Massey 
We enjoyed a delicious meal (early bird menu Sunday to Friday until 7pm) at 'Flavours', a Turkish restaurant in Lymm which  we can certainly recommend .





Whilst moored near Little Bollington, we visited Dunham Massey Deer Park.  The Deer were absolutely gorgeous, you could get so close to them.   








The weather has significantly improved over the last few days and we have enjoyed some sunshine.

Nugget enjoying the sun
 
Outskirts of Sale









  

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Return journey on the Llangollen Canal and overview

Over the last week we have thoroughly enjoyed our return journey on the Llangollen Canal with many highlights on the way.
Llangollen Basin
We had a terrific few days with friends who stayed on the Camping @ the boathouse site, which we would thoroughly recommend if you are having friends visiting, as Chirk Marina is next to the campsite and offers visitors moorings at £7 per night.  Also the meals at the Boathouse pub are very nice; however access to the pub is difficult as it is on the offside unless you are moored at the marina.


We moored just before bridge 50 (Hampton Park).  The moorings are wide here, so ideal for barbeques and sitting out, which was great as Natalie joined us for lunch and thankfully the weather permitted us to sit out.

Field of corn on the cobs
   
After the Grindley Brook locks, we went on a walk which took you through an enormous field full of corn on the cobs!


We stopped off at Marbury, (top of bridge 23, Marbury Lock).  It is well worth the 15 minute walk into the village to see the impressive St Michael's Church which overlooks the beautiful Little Mere.  The pulpit is the oldest in Cheshire and there were some really interesting plaques at the back of the church dating back to the 1700's with transcripts of wills showing legacies left to those in need.


There is a useful Spa shop at Wrenbury which is only a 5 minute walk from bridge 19.

All in all, we have had  lovely time on the Llangollen Canal. The weather has been a mixture of sunshine, wind and showers, however this has not stopped us doing all we wanted to do.
St Michaels church - Marbury

Several people advised us not to venture on the Llangollen during the school holidays as it is too busy, however we have always managed to find a mooring and the only really busy areas were Trevor Basin, and Llangollen itself.

It is a beautiful Canal and many many thanks go to the Shropshire Union Canal Society for the wonderful moorings and seats along the way.

  

Friday, 11 August 2017

Llangollen

We took the narrow, winding canal through to Llangollen for a couple of days.
Llangollen motorcycle Festival
Although it is only 4 miles, it took us approximately 3 hours!  At times you have to  check if another boat is coming in the opposite direction as there isn't the room for two boats to pass.  It is lovely and scenic but you have to concentrate the whole length due to the depth of the canal in places and other boaters.   The moorings in Llangollen basin are lovely and there are plenty (maximum stay 48 hours).      The Llangollen motorcycle festival was in full flow when we arrived.  We had a walk to horseshoe falls, where the canal begins its life, passing the horse drawn trip boat on the way.    Llangollen canal is a bustling tourist town with many shops and attractions.
Ruins of Dinas Bran Castle
Whilst we were moored in the basin we also walked up to the ruins of Dinas Bran Castle, a medieval fortress abandoned in 1277.  There are amazing views from the top, well worth the hike and a slight diversion due to Nugget!

It was lovely to see Martin and Andrea who joined us for the return journey to Trevor Basin.  After previous failed attempts by Helen and Chris, and with Martin and Andrea's support, we 'enjoyed' the complete walk across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Thanks to Martin, we also had a drive up the Horseshoe Pass - truly amazing views from the top and a lovely calm sunny day.
    
      

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Chirk and Pontcysyllte Aqueducts!

Thursday 3 August -
 Giving us a little practise before the 'big one', our journey took us over Chirk Aqueduct which runs parallel to a railway viaduct. Once you leave the aqueduct, you enter Chirk Tunnel.  You have to ensure there are no boats coming through in the opposite direction through both Chirk and Whitehouse Tunnel before entering. We moored up outside  Chirk Marina which is useful as it has Elsan facilities (£2) and they have overnight mooring facilities if required. 


Friday  4 August -
 They day dawned bright and breezy and after cruising for about 45 minutes, passing through Whitehouse Tunnel and a single lift bridge, there is a sharp bend and then lo and behold, the canal disappears into the sky!

Yes, we have reached the engineering marvel that is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Nervous anticipation - but its too late as you navigate across the 1000ft narrow trough of iron plates.  Hold on tight as there is absolutely nothing between you and the 126ft drop to the River Dee running beneath the aqueduct.



The aqueduct was constructed 1795 - 1805.  There are limited but delightful moorings in Trevor Basin, plenty to explore where there is a visitors centre, café and pub . A 15-20 minute walk takes you to the village of Cefn- Mawr. Visit the old high street for a glimpse back in time. 
There is a large Tesco on the outskirts of the town. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Nantwich to Chirk


Hurlestone Junction to Poveys lock (approximately one mile from Grindley Brook), total cruising time 7.5 hours.  A nice quiet part of the canal with plenty of moorings, courtesy of the Shropshire Canal Society.
One of the many lift bridges
Saturday 29 July - Martin, Shirley and Alex came to visit us and help us up the Grindley Brook Locks, including the staircase lock which is under the supervision of a lock Keeper.  The locks were very quiet so the ascent took a mere 1.5 hours leaving plenty of time for an ice cream at the wonderful canal side cafe.   There are plenty of pleasant moorings above and below the locks.  The nearby Horse and Jockey pub is well worth a visit - dogs, children, muddy boots are made welcome.  The food was delicious.

Sunday, we cruised from  Grindley Brook to Platt Lane Bridge - total cruising 2.5 hours, pausing on the way to rescue a narrowboat which had run aground near a bridge.
Blake Mere - view from the moorings



Monday - We cruised through to Blake Mere, there are some fantastic moorings at the side of the mere with breathtaking views.  After pulling another boat to safety, we had a short walk into Ellesmere and enjoyed the afternoon sat watching the wildlife on the mere. 

Tuesday - After a short 30 minute cruise, you are in Ellesmere, where you can moor up in the arm in town next to Tesco - handy for stocking up.  The town has everything you need.  and after stocking up on provisions we resumed our cruise before mooring at bridge 7W. 

Ellesmere Basin

Wednesday  - a mixture of sun and showers all day.  We cruised through from Bridge 7W to   bridge 21, Chirk - total cruising time 3 hours. 

There was a tailback of 14 boats waiting to descend the New Marton locks, luckily we were going the other way!  In the afternoon we had a lovely walk over the Chirk Aqueduct and into the town centre.  Nugget had a run in the large park and we had a look round the Parish Church of St Marys.  Chirk is a Welsh border town and its main road was constructed by Thomas Telford. Chirk is now bypassed by the main A5 trunk road into Wales.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Wigan to Nantwich

27 May 2017 - 3 June 2017

Down the Wigan flight and on to Abram for an overnight stay (total cruising time 6 hours). 

Oughtrington
The following day we went through Plank Lane Lift Bridge (with ease as it was  Sunday), through Worsley and over the Manchester Ship Canal.  We don't particularly enjoy this stretch, however since we last came there have been some improvements,  a lot of houses have been built and the canal side smartened up.  Even so, it was a long stretch.  We eventually moored up on the Bridgewater canal on the offside just after Lloyd Bridge at Oughtrington just outside Lymm. (Total cruising time 7.5 hours)

The following day we cruised through to Stockton Heath.  There are a variety of shops here, including an Aldi which is useful.  Luckily we arrived at Preston Brook Tunnel at 2.30pm which was great as the 20 minute slot allowing boats to pass through was 30-40mins past the hour.  We moored up between bridges 211 and 212.  The swallows were ducking and diving for the midges, quite a sight, but they never seem to eat them all!!  There is a pleasant walk down from Bridge 211,which leads to the River Weaver - Nugget enjoyed watching all the bunnies running about (total cruising time 5 hours)


Queue for Minshull Lock (luckily opposite direction to us!
The next day we just made the time slot for Saltersford Tunnel  and then straight through Barton Tunnel.  Unfortunately it was another drizzly day, went on past the Anderton Boat Lift and moored up just before bridge 193 near Lion Saltworks, which now has a visitor centre. Half an hour walk takes you to Northwich, where there are plenty of shops, including a large Asda and  Sainsburys.  For the evening we moored at Billenge Green Flash. Fantastic wildlife there, we saw two Great crested Grebe's and lot of herons;  beautiful spot.(total cruising time 4.25 hours)

Hurleston Junction
We woke up  to glorious sunshine.  Cruised through stopping at  Middlewich for some provisions from Tesco's and filled with water just before we started our ascent up the narrow locks.  Moored  for the night at Bridge 25 on mooring rings - we are now on the Shropshire Union Canal - Middlewich Branch.  Beautiful hot sunny day, had some gentle walks with Nugget and sat out in the evening.  (total cruising time 3.75 hours)

The following day was glorious too, had a leisurely cruise through to Bridge 6.   We went for a walk  stopping at 'Venetian Marina' for a cuppa.  Chilled out in the afternoon and had a lovely BBQ sat at the moorings with picnic tables kindly set up by the Shropshire Union Canal Society (the facilities provided by the society are really good)

Venetian Marina usually have visitor moorings at £85 per week and is a short Taxi ride to Crewe Railway Station. Diesel is reasonably priced and you split the 'heating'/'propulsion' as you wish.

The next day, a leisurely cruise to Hurleston Junction, and the branch off to the Llangollen  Canal - our next adventure on Coventina !