Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd September; Frankton Junction to New Marton locks, through Chirk and on to Whitehouse Tunnel
After another wet night we set off at about 10 as the rain started to clear. The canal was busy with boats in both direction, and sod’s law was in full operation. We seemed to be meeting boats at all the dodgy bridges, and the edges are beginning to get shallower. At one bridge we ran aground as we pulled back to wait – we got free quickly but the boat behind us ended up well and truly stuck. There was one boat ahead of us at the locks, but New Marton locks don’t take long, and with boats coming down there was little work to do so we were soon up. Here go some Viking newbies. We’ve all got our hoods up here!
One of the boats coming down said there had been a constant stream of hire boats going towards Llangollen, so we didn’t want to go much further, as Tuesday to Thursday is known to be the busy time on the Chirk to Llangollen section. So as the weather was closing in again we moored on the long stretch above the locks. We had lunch watching the rain and the boats going by.
It was a very showery afternoon, with some thunder too. Dave did some more varnishing and I made some gingerbread.
3 and a half miles, 2 locks.
After another wet night, Wednesday morning was still very showery so we stayed put. Dave finished the current lot of varnishing and then stripped out and replaced the sealant in the galley where it was coming away from the work-top. It was hard to get the perfect shot though, he wouldn’t pose!
When the rain eased off a bit I got the brolly and gave Meg a game of ball, though between us we lost the ball. She spent ages looking for it but to no avail.
There were a lot of boats going by, in spite of the weather. Where we moored is on a long straight, and we couldn’t believe the number of boats passing much too quickly. But at least we were on Armco piling and not relying on pins.
In the afternoon the weather improved somewhat so off we went, passing Inca who were moored half a mile further on. We could see this intriguing plume of white smoke in the distance. What could it be?
(It turned out to be the chipboard factory at Chirk.) At Rhoswiel by Lion Quays we could see that the garage on the bridge had re-opened since we were last here, so we stopped briefly so Dave could get the paper. He didn’t think much of the shop though. There were boats coming towards us most of the time, but we made it across Chirk aqueduct behind this hire boat and through the tunnel without having to wait.
It was still raining on and off. We hope the weather will be better in Wales!
At Chirk marina we watched as a hire boat was brought out by a company employee, who reversed it back, jumped off and sent them on their way. The steerer did a good job through Whitehouse tunnel; the flow on the canal pushes your boat to one side of the tunnel and with the flow against you anyway it is challenging for anyone. When he pulled in immediately afterwards to let us pass he said it was his first time on a narrowboat – I hope he’d had more instruction than the apparently minimal amount it had looked like …… We moored at the visitor moorings after Whitehouse tunnel, then set off for the walk to the northern end of the aqueduct as described in Nicholsons. The first stretch is along the pavement of a busy main road to Newbridge, where we turned into the Ty Mawr country park. Where our brains seemed to have slipped out of gear – we stood looking at this massive construction trying to make sense of the map as the aqueduct didn’t seem to be in the right place -
till the penny finally dropped that we’d just walked under the railway viaduct and it wasn’t the aqueduct at all! D’oh! On our way down to the Dee through the country park we spent some time chatting to an elderly farm worker who insisted on telling us about all the dangerous bulls he’d worked with over his life. Then we reached the river and sight of the aqueduct. You can see how much more delicate the aqueduct looks, and with its iron trough it’s nothing like the solid bulk of the viaduct.
We took the path through the woods and drew closer to the aqueduct, then suddenly there were the steps and up we went.
Once at the top we had a straight walk back over the aqueduct and along the towpath. It really was a long way up those steps -
We kept Meg on the lead. She’s slender enough to fit through those railings and we didn’t want to take any risks. Back on the boat we discovered an excellent internet signal – the first we’d had for ages – so at last we could check emails and get a blog posted!
5 and a half miles, 2 tunnels, 1 aqueduct (Chirk)