This is going to be a very brief version of our visit – just including the highlights – but it still might be a long blog!
Right then, having arrived on the Llangollen on 17 March we were not in a hurry and only travelled a few miles a day.
Our first “landmark” was the Wrenbury Lift Bridge – I remembered this from our time in a hire boat – and was looking forward to holding up the traffic again!!!
Muleless heading towards the bridge (and in the distance another boat had appeared to be let through too!) at this point my finger was on the button and the bridge was lifting ready.
Bridge fully up and Gary taking Muleless through – I then had to keep the traffic waiting whilst the next boat went through too!
Four cars one side waiting as the bridge lowers – I think there were two the other side too by then!
We found a lovely spot to moor in the sun along the stretch below Quoisley Lock, and whilst Gary did a spot of boat maintenance I took advantage of the good weather to dry some washing!
So it was just by chance that on the morning of 20 March we were in the perfect spot to view the partial eclipse!!
Unfortunately my photos didnt catch the eclipse very clearly – but do show how we watched the reflection in the water of the sun through the clouds and it was spectacular!
Our next “landmark” was the Grindley Brook Staircase Locks!
I read the instructions and checked all was clear for us to start up the flight – luckily we were the only boat around so we could take our time – I didnt want to cause a flood!!!
Having successfully negotiated the staircase we made our way to the Whitchurch Arm and pulled-up just outside – a further check confirmed that the arm was full so we set ourselves up just before the lift bridge for the weekend.
When we left our mooring we passed through our first “manual” lift bridge – I had to use the windlass to “wind” the bridge up – and down again! on the next stretch of the Llangollen there are a few of these bridges!!
So two lift bridges on I enlisted the help of some interested passers-by! (and I did get them to move to safety before the bridge squashed them!)
A few days later saw us heading through Ellesmere Tunnel – and it was a bit of a struggle – but we made it!
As we moored up just after the tunnel, we had our first sighting of Jon and Hannah on NB Mountbatten, the new fuel boat working on the Langollen Canal – we didnt need diesel then but promised to see them on their next trip!
We were moored just outside Blackwater Meadow Marina – where we had picked up our Canaltime boat when we previously did the Llangollen! There are still a lot of them in the marina (full hire boat season doesnt start until Easter).
The next day we had a terrific hailstorm – good job we were still in the boat at the time!
When it was time to move on we headed up the Ellesmere Arm
and moored up right outside Tescos – handy for bringing the trolley right back to the boat!
As it was still March, the weather was still not very good and we had decided to moor up below New Marton Locks to sit out a windy day – unfortunately there were some hire boaters still moving in the wind and after watching some antics at the locks thought we would go and help!
The wind was so strong boats could not get on to the lock landings to drop off or pick up crew – so we spent a couple of hours being volunteer lockies to help out!
After the winds had dropped we made our own way up the locks and were then on the summit level of the Llangollen Canal – which is 300ft above sea level – we had actually been higher as we left the Staffs and Worcester Canal and turned on the Shroppie – the summit there is 340ft!
We moored up at Chirk Bank so that we could admire the Chirk Aquaduct and surrounding area.
Houses below and above – complete with Hobbit door!
We had a good look at the aquaduct and railway viaduct from above
and after a walk round Chirk Village found our way below too!
The next day we had a walk to look at the road bridge further along the valley, where again we got up close and personal.
We had made the decision not to continue on past Chirk – as it was now nearly Easter and we didnt want to get caught up with all the holiday boats, so we had to go over the Chirk Aquaduct and then turn before the tunnel and return towards Ellesmere.
I then hurried to the top of the tunnel to get these shots – and ran back again before I got left behind!
One day I will go below the aquaduct to take pictures as Muleless passes over!
Once again we moored below New Marton Locks to sit out another windy day – and yes there were more problems at the lock and once again we became volunteer lockies!!
We managed to make it back to Ellesmere in a break in the weather – but then had to stay for a few days for the weather to clear again!
We made good use of the time whilst moored on the Arm close to Tescos and even managed a diesel top up from NB Mountbatten too!
We had decided to spend the Easter holiday period down the Montgomery Canal “out of the way” and had booked our passage down the Frankton Locks for April 2nd.
We arrived at about 1pm, and as we were the 2nd and last boat to go down that day our two helpful CRT guys worked all the locks for us so that I could take photos!
The first two locks are a staircase – and it is a long way down!
Then two short pounds with the next two single locks
We pulled in on the lock landing at the bottom for a well earned cuppa and some hot sausage rolls to share with our friendly lockies!
Then we moved the 200 yds or so to the Weston Arm and moored up for a couple of days!
We even managed to get a rare sighting of the little steam train working in the garden next to the cottage!
We moved on to Queens Head and met up with Yvonne and Roy who had been up to Llangollen in their camper van for a few days, we had Sunday Lunch in “The Queens Head” and had a walk along the canal before they set off again!
We did move on again and made it down to Maesbury Marsh – and on the way I managed to catch this little guy – just!
We walked about a mile of the unrestored section of the canal.
We took Muleless to the end of the navigable section to turn round.
and moored back at Queens Head to sit out some more bad weather and to wait for Steve and Chris on NB AmyJo to join us whilst out on their Easter cruise!
We of course had to adjourn to the pub for sustenance!!!
When Steve and Chris headed off to Maesbury Marsh we headed back to the Weston Arm, and whilst we were staying for another couple of days NB AmyJo just topped up with water and headed back up the locks!
So finally on 16 April we left the Montgomery Canal – I know we have slowed down now – 14 days for 7 miles of canal is really slow!!!
We had to work ourselves back up the locks this time!
We headed back to Ellesmere again to top up the cupboards. It was now time to head back up the canal again – this time to reach the top!
Continued in Part 2!