Into Wales…..

From Chemistry Bridge to Froncysyllte Visitor Moorings (East), a distance of 25 miles, 3 flg and 2 locks.

Once you’ve reached Whitchurch you’ve pretty much done all the locks on the canal but you’ve hardly started on the lift bridges – so your crew don’t get much time to lie in after you’ve cast off from the moorings.

Typical Llangollen Canal lift bridge

The bridges all have hydraulic lift mechanisms

Most of the bridges heave almost no clearance above the water and the access roads to them drop off quite steeply on either side of the canal

From Whitchurch up the canal features some of its most impressive engineering and also runs through some very attractive countryside although it can be quite bleak crossing Whixhall Moss, especially when its blowing a gale and raining. We stopped for a late breakfast on the Colemere Visitor Moorings and the sun actually came out and it was all rather pleasant.

Cabin by Cole Mere

Great views from their garden.

The sun was still out as we went past Blake Mere and there were a few boats on the move.

Blake Mere

Another view of Blake Mere

And another view…..

Getting through Ellesmere Branch Junction was a bit of fun as there were several boats moving round who didn’t seem to know where they actually wanted to go – but there were no collisions and no raised voices so it all went quite well and we made our leisurely way to The Jack Mytton Inn where we stopped for a couple of pints which was quite pleasant although the pub was a little on the cold side.  After leaving the pub we hit New Marton Bottom Lock No 1 where there was a queue of traffic for some reason, although as you approached the lock it was hard to work out who was queuing for the lock and who was moored up.  Oddly enough once we got through the lock there didn’t seem to be much traffic moving but when we arrived at the moorings for The Poachers Pocket PH it became obvious that most of the boats had stopped there for the night.

It was total chaos at Monk Bridge No 21 with boats coming down the canal and people trying to moor and people deciding to move moorings for no apparent reason and I think it was more by good luck than anything that no boats hit each other.

We had to wait for a boat to come through Chirk Aqueduct and then we had to wait in Chirk Pool for a couple of boats to come through the tunnel.

Chirk Aqueduct

This wasn’t made easier due to a boat moored on the bollards which are there for boats waiting to get through the tunnel so we had to float around in the pool for about 5 minutes before entering the tunnel and making extremely slow progress through it,

It was starting to get dark when we got through Whitehouses Tunnel and we found a boat moored for the night on the waiting moorings… they were so close to the tunnel mouth that at one point I thought they were actually in the tunnel.

We stopped for the night at the end of the visitor moorings and after eating we walked up the towpath to the Aqueduct Inn for a few beers. The pub had several good beers and what looked like a good range of food.

Onwards and upwards to Whitchurch

From Marsh Lane Visitor Moorings to Chemistry Bridge, a distance of 16 miles, 3¼ flg and 19 locks.

The odd thing about the visitor moorings in Nantwich is that they always seem to be full but there never seems to be any sign of life on the boats. It takes a remarkable length of time to get past all the moorings over the Aqueduct and past Nantwich Basin Entrance before you can open up the throttle a bit and appreciate the wide and deep part of the canal on your way to Hurleston Junction .

Our plan for the day was basically to get through … that was it… how we did it and where we’d stop for the night was all up in the air.

Turning in to the Llangollen Canal coming North from Nantwich is not the easiest, or safest, of manoeuvres due to the bridge right before the junction and the fact that people coming out of the locks often steam full speed ahead without checking if the way is clear.

There were some water problems going up Hurleston Locks with one pound being extremely low but we scraped over the cill out of the lock and managed to get to the next lock with only a few bounces off the bottom.

Even with the low water levels we made good time and it wasn’t long before we were moving into the top lock.

Although there may have been water problems on the flight there was plenty of water flowing down the canal and into the reservoir which was pretty much full.

As you can see the weather wasn’t the best, but we’ve boated in a lot, lot worse, but I guess everyone else was pretty much a fair weather boater and we pretty much had the canal all to ourselves right up to Willey Moor Lock No 12 which we passed through before stopping for lunch and walking back to the pub for a pint or two.

Willeymoor Lock and pub

The pub had a good range of beers on, and with the moorings above and below the lock it’s a good place to stop. We didn’t eat lunch there but the food looked and smelled good.  Over a couple of pints we decided that Whitchurch seemed a sensible place to stop for the night – if Grindley Brook was busy then we’d get there late-ish and if it was quiet then we’d have a little more time to explore the town and the pubs.

So we dragged ourselves out of the pub after a round of rounds and continued our journey.

Although there had been a flurry of activity round the lock at the pub when we arrived it was very quiet when we left and we spent a rather pleasant afternoon on a pretty much deserted canal until we got to Grindley Railway Bridge No 27 where we met someone coming through the bridge at full speed with no care in the world.

Grindley Brook Railway Bridge without mad boat.

There were a few boats moving around and we had to wait for about 15 minutes to get into the staircase… but that’s nothing …

Grindley Brook Bottom Lock

Grindley Brook Middle Lock Gates

We stopped above the locks at Grindley Brook Water Points to fill up with water and use the sanitary station… well we did have a few pints of beer to get rid of !

Once through the locks the canal was quiet again and we made it to Whitchurch with plenty of time. We moored in the stub of the Whitchurch branch canal. You need to go to Whitchurch Winding Hole, turn and come back and head into the arm bow first. But then you need to wind in the Whitchurch Branch Winding hole before pulling onto the moorings. I guess you could do that turn the next morning but it seems to make sense to do it as the last thing before stopping.

To get into town you start by walking down the line of the old canal arm which has been filled in.

Chemistry Bridge – End of the line towards Whitchurch

The town, like many, is feeling a little tired but there are some good pubs.  The Old Town Hall Vaults is owned by Joules and is well worth a visit.

Sign on The Old Town Hall Vaults.

So if you are heading up or down the canal you should take the time and detour and visit the town. Many of the pubs do food so you should find something suitable and within your price range.

Quietly to Nantwich

From Tom's Moorings to Marsh Lane Visitor Moorings, a distance of 11 miles, 3¼ flg and 22 locks.

We had a fairly late start as we drove up from home in the morning, so we only actually left the moorings just after 10:30am, and as usual the canal was pretty quiet, but the weather could have had something to do with that as it was far from ideal – basically a mix of sunshine and heavy showers : when the sun was out it was quite pleasant but when it rained it was heavy and cold.

The rain made the grass round the locks quite slippery and of course all the balance beams were soaking wet, but we make pretty good progress considering there were only three of us.

We arrived at Audlem Top Lock No 13 and entered the flight, there weren’t many boats around and we made pretty good progress down to Audlem Vistor Moorings (Above Wharf) where we stopped and went off to The Lord Combermere for a couple of pints.

After lunch we made good time down the rest of the flight and it was pretty quiet all the way out to Hack Green Top Lock No 28 . The total quietness continued right on to Nantwich where we moored up on the Marsh Lane Visitor Moorings for the night and went into Nantwich for a walk around and a few beers.

It’s a lot older than it looks.

God Grant Our Royal Queen in England Long to Reign For She Hath Put Her Helping Hand to Build this Town Again.

One of the many old buildings in Nantwich