Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Llangollen week 4

Some photos from our walk up to Castell Dinas Bran this morning,  the weather was perfect, blue skies & little wind.

It is a beautiful place with stunning views, especially on a day like today.

Mark got one of these (a periscope) in his Xmas stocking.
 It's to save him having to keep jumping up to look out of the window every time a boat passes ;-)

Monday, 26 December 2011

A walk & a rescue

This morning  it was mild, almost spring like & fancying a walk to stretch our legs we set out to walk to Trevor & back along the tow path. Due to the strong wind we decided to leave the tops for another day.

 The sun just catching the escarpment
Looking towards Castell Dinas Bran 

As we rounded the bend after Bryn Howell we met a walker who told us that there was a sheep in the canal & could we keep an eye on it whilst he went back to the bridge & over to the farm to see if someone could come to its rescue. 
Spotting it swimming to & fro we quickly decided we'd try to get her out as she was looking tired & stressed. It took a bit of coaxing to get her to come to the side but once she was in reach we just grabbed handfuls of wool & dragged her out. No sign of any help so I took my belt off my jeans to make into a collar / lead so we could hang on to her & eventually the walker returned but the news wasn't really helpful as the sheep didn't belong to the nearby farm but they said they would  ring the owners, goodness knows if/when anyone would show. 
Nothing for it then but to lead/push/drag her the few hundred yards up to & over the bridge. Fortunately there was a gate into the field from where she'd come & with a shove through the gate she trotted off to join the rest of the flock without a backward glance.  As I was a bit muddy after kneeling in the mud  we headed back home instead of continuing to Trevor, no photos of the event, too busy catching & holding onto a soggy sheep.....
Tomorrow we are hoping for a less adventurous but steeper walk up to Castell Dinas Bran.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas in Llangollen

I got home on Friday afternoon after my visit to family in Scarborough & Manchester, the journey was trouble free despite the trains being very busy. It's lovely to go visiting but it's nice to be back home.....
A couple of pics from Scarborough
Astrid & Fin with this impressive sculpture on North Marine Drive,
 it  was created by artist Ray Lonsdale & was originally on loan for a month but it was so popular that a campaign was started to raise the £48,000 purchase price until a local woman, Maureen Robinson, bought it & gifted it to the town. 
The sculpture shows retired miner Freddie Gilroy, who was one of the first soldiers to liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of World War Two.

We've opened our presents, I've set up my new shiny kindle (!!) & have been for a stroll to work up an appetite for dinner, but I wasn't really paying attention when I put my boots on.....
& that's before the boozy coffee.... 
it's a good job that we didn't meet many people whilst we were out.

A Very Merry Christmas to you all.... 

Friday, 16 December 2011

Llangollen week 3

3 weeks in & we seem to be adjusting quite well to being stationary, the shore power certainly helps, watching TV whenever we choose & having extra heating from the small oil filled radiator we bought. Plus I can have a reading lamp on when I'm crocheting or reading without a thought for the drain on the batteries. 
We usually go to Wrexham once a week to do a Tesco shop & anything else we can't get locally, the bus service is good, running every 15 minutes so never long to wait. Coal is delivered to the towpath on Wednesdays, just need to ring the day before to order, very handy & a good price at  £8.75 for 25kg excel. They will also deliver gas which we will be needing soon. Brilliant service & with a smile. 

We have been for a couple of walks, one up to Horseshoe Falls, gosh it was cold that day...

after  crossing the River Dee at Berwyn

we walked back to Llangollen

Llangollen, looking across the River Dee towards the Llangollen Railway 
Castell Dinas Bran is in the distance

For our next trek we decided to have a walk in the hills we can see from the side hatch, it was a steep climb up & even steeper on the way down, it's been a while since I did any hill walking, hopefully by the time we leave here in spring I will be somewhat fitter!

Looking toward Llangollen  & the distant mountains

We haven't done as much walking as we would have liked, in part because the weather has been iffy with gales & rain so after Christmas we shall make more of an effort. It's a shame not to take full advantage of the beautiful countryside plus it's a good way to walk off all the mince pies & Christmas pud... 

In the last blog I mentioned Sid's escapade when he ended up on the wrong side of the canal & yes he's been in another scrape but not of his making this time.  A lot of dog walkers make use of the towpath & the majority are responsible owners with the dogs are either on leads or under control but last Tuesday he was chased by 2 out of control dogs, their owner was totally unaware of what was going on as she was strolling along behind a hundred yards or so away.
 I ran out when I heard barking, they were chasing Sid & he disappeared down the embankment. I chased them off & some moments later the owner appeared, called the dogs & put them on their leads. I was furious & she got the brunt of it, no apology forthcoming though, at this point I had no idea were Sid was & was worried that he'd been chased across the road but after a few minutes we spotted him in a tree obviously terrified.
 Mark managed to get him down, he was very subdued & was reluctant to go out at all for a few days. He is still wary, only going out for short periods, never straying far from the boat & running indoors if he spots anyone with or without a dog. 

Soona taking the air whilst a wary Sid keeps an eye out for trouble.

I've been getting the Christmas shopping sorted as I'm off visiting tomorrow so I shall be playing Santa. It's Manchester tomorrow & then Scarborough on Sunday for a few days. 
Looking forward to some proper fish & chips.


Saturday, 3 December 2011


We have been in Llangollen for a few days now on our winter mooring, after a year & a half of cruising continuously it feels odd not to be moving on. I had a bit of a wobble at first as the winter moorings here were described on the British Waterways web site as being in the basin but we found that not to be the case & they are in fact on the towpath, I was a bit put out as we were looking forward to being in the basin, which for those who don't know it, is in a great setting, open with  views all around, whereas the towpath moorings are in the trees ( but much handier for the services!) we also doubted that we'd get a satellite signal for the TV. I was all for demanding our money back & accusing BW of miss selling!  But a chat with Elsie & Eric, nb Bendigedig allayed our fears, so we stopped moaning, settled in & of course it's fine. 

Llangollen is a great little town  in a beautiful setting & we intend to do lots of walking so yesterday we made a start by walking up past Valle Crucis Abbey & then continued up the valley  to Eglwyseg Rocks  an imposing limestone escarpment.
 Looking toward Eglwyseg Rocks
We then followed Offa's Dyke path along the base of the rocks, skirted the bottom of the hilltop fort of  Castell Dinas Bran ( we will climb it another day) & then it was an easy downhill stroll back to Llangollen

Castel Dinas Bran in the distance
The path passes this Lime Kiln  just below the rocks

One of our concerns about being here rather than in the basin was the fairly busy road at the bottom of the embankment & Sid, but he seems to be wary of the traffic noise & stays clear.  Although this morning he managed to get himself in a bit of a predicament....
When he is out & about he usually pops back now & again but this morning he went off at 7am &  didn't come back. At lunch time I went out with the locator & kept getting a weak signal but couldn't pinpoint his location, I thought he must be in the undergrowth on the embankment so just had to leave him to it.
 Mark went out a bit later & before long shouted for me, Sid was sat on the opposite bank meowing loudly, quite plainly distressed & saying "come & get me"! 
He must have gone all the way down to the bridge near the trip boats, crossed over & somehow worked his way  back down to the canal but on the wrong side... Mark was contemplating walking round to get him, although as the bank on the other side is steep & quite overgrown wasn't sure how best to tackle it when I pointed out the obvious, so yes, we untied Poppy & took her over to the other bank to rescue him much to the interest of passers by.
Not the best photo as he is camouflaged in the bracken & it's well cropped 

He seemed relieved to be home, had a cuddle ( & he is not usually cuddly at all) a feed & then crashed on the bed. Hopefully he has learnt a lesson but somehow I doubt it...

Sunday, 13 November 2011


We left St Martins on Friday morning, it was cold, grey & damp so a good job it was only an hours cruise to Chirk Bank  before mooring outside The Poachers Pocket pub. Mark figured it was probably  one of the few places before Chirk where we could get a TV signal & we knew from being up here last October that we didn't want to moor anywhere nearer Monks Bridge as a) no TV signal & b) some very noisy insomniac geese. 

 I was awaiting some mail due to be delivered to Chirk Post Office so we had a walk into the town before lunch, the mail hadn't arrived  but we also needed some supplies so popped into the fairly well stocked Spar. Chirk isn't a big place but has most of the essentials, apart from the Spar there's a chemist, a bank, butchers, bakers, Indian restaurant, coffee shop & some gift type shops so well worth the walk up from the canal.
 Yesterday we wanted to check out the mooring situation north of Chirk so we walked over the aqueduct, through the tunnel & through the cutting as far as the marina. 

View from the aqueduct across the valley under the railway viaduct,
 the mist is just rising off the trees

 the Chirk Aqueduct is the 'other' aqueduct's poor relation but we like it.
the imposing Chirk Tunnel entrance
the cutting north of the tunnel

There was just a couple of boats moored near the marina & loads of space for us if we decided to move, the problem with being at The Poachers Pocket was it wasn't really Sid friendly as the road is only across the car park so he wasn't allowed out & was a bit fed up. 
After checking the moorings we walked back to Chirk, 1st stop, the Post Office & my mail had arrived so next stop was the chemist to drop off my prescription. It won't be ready until Monday but that's fine then a few bits & bobs from the Spar & back home for lunch.
No evening meal to cook as we decided to try the Poachers Pocket, it's a Marstons  Pub so part of a chain but the food was fine, not Cordon Bleu but we are simple souls so it suited us.
This morning we upped sticks & moved up to the mooring near the marina, Mark has been to fetch the Sunday paper, I've cleaned & tided & Sid has been enjoying being outside.

One odd thing happened earlier, I broke off from the chores to check on Sid, he had got a bit stuck in a tree & I was just watching him when there was a noise from the hedge nearby,  then a hawk struggled out of the hedge with a blackbird in it's claws, it then went back in the hedge. A couple were just walking up with their dog as the hawk flew back out of the hedge, still with the blackbird, which now looked dead, & flew low across the canal disappearing  into the undergrowth on the other side. I didn't have my camera & the other couple, who did have a camera, were like me, too transfixed watching & it all happened so fast. I was surprised that the hawk would go into the hedge to attack the blackbird usually they seem to swoop in the open to get their prey & even after he'd got it he still stayed low, still I'm no ornithologist so what do I know!

A freaky photo of Sid as the flash catches his eyes playing with the latest toy.

Monday, 7 November 2011

St Martins

A definite chill in the air this morning as we moved up through the lock to the water point with more than a touch of frost. 

but the early sunshine didn't last & by lunchtime it was thick grey cloud, still bitterly cold though.
Mark had a walk up to Stan's Superstore for some essentials whilst I took advantage of a full water tank & did the washing.

Yesterday we had a walk over to the Co-op at Gobowen for a change, it was a lovely walk down country lanes in glorious autumn sunshine, no pictures though as I did take my camera but forgot that I'd left the battery behind on charge.

We've found the locator tag on Sid working well, I wanted him in before dark tonight as the towpath is a track for cars to the lock cottage, only light traffic but he has a habit of lying on the towpath, Mark had been out & although he got a weak signal couldn't pin point him so a while later I went out. It took me 10 minutes or so but eventually I picked up a signal which took me to some dense undergrowth. The tag on his collar beeps when he is in range & we've noticed that he'll often appear at that point as if he knows the beep means time to come in & sure enough he  soon strolled out of the undergrowth.
 Sid sporting his locator tag
  Getting ready to pounce, poor Soona, she rarely appreciates his 'games'

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Somewhere on the Llangollen Canal

I took Rowen back to Manchester on Saturday ready for back to school on Monday, the train from Whitchurch was packed & we had to sit in the corridor but it's only an hour's journey so we coped. 
The train back on Sunday was as busy though I did manage a seat this time.
Monday morning & we left Whitchurch at 7am arriving in Ellesmere at 12 noon & now half term is over there was plenty of room for us to moor on the arm. 
A potter round the town & then a lazy afternoon during which we had a heavy shower or two followed by this rainbow.

An early trip to Tesco on Tuesday morning to stock up the cupboards, especially heavy stuff like cat litter & tins turned into a bit of a pantomime. We had quite a trolley full & making our way to the tills realised that non of them were staffed & the couple of other customers were using the self service tills. It seems that they don't have anyone available for the tills until 9.30am!!
I hate the self service tills  usually getting the 'unexpected item in bagging area' & then have to wait for assistance anyway. Fortunately a very helpful staff member came & sorted us out.
 Once the shopping was aboard we went up to the junction & onto the services for water etc, by the time we'd finished & got underway it was 10.30am, our aim was to get passed bridge 6 as there is a winter stoppage starting on the 7th Nov until 21st Dec & then find a mooring. Which is just what we did & so are currently moored between bridges 7 & 8 , there is a bit of road noise from the A495 but it's good for Sid & a TV signal. 
It was warm & sunny so after lunch I took a wire brush to the rubbing strakes before giving the rusty areas some vactan then when it was dry a coat of bitumen, hopefully I will be able to do the other side once on a pontoon in Llangollen Basin ( just one of a list of jobs for this winter)

This morning we walked to the village of Whittington, Mark had spotted a 'premier' shop on Google Earth & whilst we didn't really need anything a copy of the Guardian would be nice. Part of the walk was down the disused railway track which was pleasant & the rest along the main road which was less pleasant. The village is lovely& has a castle which is unusual in that it is run by the local community, but the constant heavy traffic passing through is very intrusive. 
We found the shop & the last copy of the paper :) 

 Whittington Castle..
with it's impressive entrance
 Storm clouds over the village pond
Autumn colour

Although the clouds were gathering the rain held off until we were back home & then the heavens  opened but it didn't last long & the sun is out again. 
Now we are past the main stoppages we will be dawdling along as we don't need to be in Llangollen till the end of the month, a bit of forethought will be needed though as there are some short stoppages, Chirk tunnel is closed 15th -17th, Whitehouse tunnel closed 10th - 14th & Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is closed 7th -15th, fingers crossed that these go according to plan & no emergency stoppages result.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Wrenbury, in the rain....

Quite a bit of progress has been made this week & we have done so well that I will now take Rowen back home from Whitchurch instead of Nantwich. 
Leaving Stoke on Trent at 7.30am on Monday morning,
 we got to the tunnel at 8am & went in 30 mins later, 3rd in a convoy of 4
 It doesn't seem too low so why all the advice to clear the roof?
 Ah that's why !
 Nearly through...
Once through the tunnel & the lock we moored up for a quick trip to the handy Tesco & then pressed on hoping to make some serious progress. 
 Rowen being useful..
 These stairs have seen some use
Stiff paddles!

Calling it a day at 5pm  we moored up between Malkins Bank & Wheelock, we had done 12 miles 26 locks &1 tunnel in 8 & a half hours, a very long but good day. A much easier day on Tuesday, we did 7 miles & 7 locks & then moored in a lovely spot between Stanthorne Lock & Normans Bridge. It was Sid friendly with a field of sweetcorn behind the hedge in which he had a whale of a time. 
He now has the loc8tor  tag on his collar & although he hasn't been 'lost' as yet it seems to work fine, 2 tags were supplied with the loc8tor so Soona is sporting the other one, just in case although she rarely goes more than a few yards from the boat.
Yesterday was another long day, leaving Stanthorne at 7.30am on a bitterly cold morning, hats & gloves were quickly dug out of storage but before long the sun came up on a glorious autumnal day.

We reached Hurleston Locks by midday, they weren't too busy & we waited for one boat to go up before us, a boat was descending so we passed in the pound to the 2nd lock

 Waiting at the bottom of the Hurleston Locks 
Our assistant's training is coming along nicely. ;) 

A boat had come into the top lock so Mark waited patiently for them to descend so we could pass again in the pound, Rowen & I walked up but our assistance wasn't required as there was a crew of 4. The lockie was keeping an eye out as usual which was just as well as he realised that there was a problem. As the paddles were raised & the water level dropped the boat (sorry, didn't get the name & if I had I'd have forgotten anyway, hopeless with boat names!) began to tilt, the stern was back up against the top gate & on the cill.The lockie quickly dropped the paddles & it turned out that the boat had lost forward drive & as the steerer tried to go forward he just went in reverse. When the lock was refilled & the panic over the boat was pulled back out of the lock, we then locked up & then pulled over onto the service point. A lot of head scratching was going on in the other boat, which the 2 couples on board had just borrowed for a holiday, we left them to it as not being mechanical types any advice we could have given would have been worse than useless!

We plodded on until Wrenbury, mooring up at 4.30pm in the rain, 16 miles & 11 locks in 8 hours. It's raining again today so we have had a good excuse to be idle but as we have made such good time it's okay, if it stops raining this afternoon we may grab the chance to move on a bit otherwise we shall do so tomorrow.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Llangollen Bound so a change of plan, again...

We didn't have a winter mooring last winter as we decided we would see how it went, being our 1st winter away from shore power & it was fine. We did get frozen in at Coven Heath which wasn't ideal but fortunately we had another boat moored close by who had a car nearby & they were brilliant making sure we were okay for water & fuel, even took me to the launderette. After a couple of weeks there was a slight thaw & we managed to get to Wheaton Aston  before everything froze solid which was just the job as all services, including the cheapest diesel on the system at Turners, were close by.

We were thinking that we'd probably see how it went again this year & possibly look at going in to a Marina if things got bad. The BW winter moorings have never really appealed as the majority are on visitor moorings where there may be some facilities ie water, rubbish & elsan disposal but not usually electricity & it seems to be a lot of money just for the benefit of not having to move on also last year you had to book for five months from November to March & we really didn't fancy being so long in one place.
 But there are some with electricity & they do seem to be worth the money as not having to run the engines to charge the batteries is a big saving on diesel plus less wear & tear on the engine.
 Llangollen is one such winter mooring & this morning I read on Bendigedig's blog that you can now book one or more up to five months, so interest aroused I had a look on the BW web site. There was still a few meters left so we bit the bullet & booked in for December, January & February. 
 Then I had a look at the stoppages,  oops... we had planned to potter around between here & Tixall whilst Rowen is here for half term then back down the Staffs & Worcs & up onto the Shroppie but with the change of plan we now need to head north, we knew that Wheelock 65 closes on the 7th Nov & that's no problem but so does Maesterfyn Bridge 5W to Pollets Bridge 6W on the Llangollen not due to open again until 21st Dec ! 
So we need to get a move on, we will move up to Stoke for Friday so I can get the coach to Manchester & once I'm back on Sunday we will be heading north planning to get to Nantwich for the 29th so Rowen & I can get a train back to Manchester, only 35 locks Rowen ! Then when I'm back on the 30th we will press on to make sure we are on the right side of the stoppages. Phew... 

Monday, 17 October 2011


 Friday morning was sunny & warm as we left Tixall Wide & went up to the junction, the water point was busy with 2 boats filling up & one waiting so Mark reversed back onto an empty spot on the right of the junction & then nipped up to the village for a paper whilst we waited. It looked impossible to get on the diesel point at  Anglo Welsh so we didn't even try but it seems it would have been possible as Geoff (nb Seyella) pointed out in a comment, evidently they can serve diesel if you're moored on the service wharf, presumably they have a long hose.....

As we came through a bridge ( can't remember which one!) we spotted this horse on the towpath with butty Verbena alongside.  

Turns out that there was to be a gathering of working & historic boats at Limekiln Wharf in Stone over the weekend & Danny the horse was going to tow Verbena to it.
We carried on for a while before  mooring up in Weston for lunch, as we were getting ready to move off Danny , Verbena & crew were coming up behind us so we passed the rope over Poppy & let them take the lead.

 Danny complete with harness

 Danny looking like an old hand when in fact it was his first time pulling a boat.
 Verbena in the lock
 & Danny gets chance for a rest & a nibble
 Ready for off again

We followed them until we found a mooring spot in Little Stoke, it was 4pm & a longish day for us but Danny still had another mile or so to go,  according to his handlers he was doing really well.
Saturday morning was cold!!  We'd not had a fire on Friday night as it was so mild but the temp plummeted overnight. We moved a mile or so nearer town & then did a trip to Morrison's via Costa Coffee, then fire was lit & has been in ever since. :)

Yesterday was another pleasant autumn day & we had a walk up to Limekiln to see the boats, unfortunately my camera battery was dead so just a couple of pics off my camera which don't do the colours or detail justice

 The boats getting ready to move off to do a parade.

A change in the weather today, not much sunshine, a couple of showers & the wind getting up this afternoon. Tomorrow we are expecting a visit from RCR  to do an engine service,  Mark does a service every 250 hours but we feel it's a good idea to let a professional loose in there now & again, we had one done last October & it was really useful - the engineer picked up on a few things we hadn't including an engine mount that had perished due to an ( unseen by us!) small fuel leak dripping on the rubber. 
The original plan had been to make for Stoke on Trent by the weekend as I'm catching a coach to Manchester on Saturday but Mark has decided he would rather hang around here than Stoke so we will head out into the country for a couple of days & then return to Stone on Friday, I will then catch a bus to Stoke to make a connection with the coach & then do the reverse on Sunday when I return with Rowen in tow.