Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Llangollen Canal Thrills

It is more than a week since we updated our blog principally because internet access on the Welsh borders has been patchy and a visit by Lucy for the Bank Holiday weekend meant we were chatting rather than ‘blogging’.

We’ve travelled up the Shropshire Union Canal before turning onto the Llangollen Canal towards Wales.  The Shropshire Union was built by Thomas Telford and has huge cuttings and embankments to allow the canal to follow a straight line across the map.  Locks and tunnels are cut through solid rock, like this tunnel:

Audlem was delightful as was Nantwich
The 'Shroppie Fly' pub at Audlem Wharf


We loved this sign for a “secret” Nuclear Bunker which is now a tourist attraction:

 We visited markets, Market Drayton on Wednesday, Nantwich on Thursday and we were too late for the market in Whitchurch on Friday.  Ian bought a new waterproof hat, which gives a clue as to the state of the weather lately:

 Soon after Nantwich we turned left and climbed the Hurleston locks at the start of the Llangollen Canal:
Hurleston Locks

 The famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was the highlight of the last few days.  From a boat only a few inches separate the trough full of water from a drop of 126 feet into the River Dee.  Astonishingly this Aqueduct built in 1805 has remained watertight with no further maintenance.  It is lined with a mixture of Welsh flannel and lead dipped in boiling sugar.  We walked underneath at one end and there were only a few drips of water leaking.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from below

The view from the boat down to the River Dee

The nearest thing to flying in a narrowboat!
The crew crossing the Aqueduct - guess what the weather was like.

We moored at Llangollen and walked the last mile and a half of narrow and shallow canal (too much so for narrowboats and nowhere to turn round) to the Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee which provides the flow of water down the canal to the Shropshire Union, so this canal has a definite flow, more like a river.
Horseshoe Falls

As well as the huge aqueduct there is a shorter one at Chirk and a couple of tunnels.  Since all these features are one way and there were a lot of boats, progress was pretty slow.
Leaving Chirk Tunnel and venturing onto Chirk Aqueduct
We are now heading back to the Shropshire Union pausing at Ellesmere to shop at Tesco.  It is an odd fact that Tesco seems to have more canalside supermarkets than the other big four.  The basin at Ellesmere is delightful and popular with boaters.
Ellesmere - note this is not Ellesmere Port which is better known
As a boat you can also hold up the traffic as at this lifting bridge:
Wrenbury Lift Bridge
We came across this boat today which was presumably going rather too fast round a bend and finished up in a field:

 Tomorrow we will return to the Shropshire Union and we'll be heading East to pick up the Macclesfield Canal as our chosen route towards Manchester.

1 comment:

  1. Secret Nuclear Bunkers
    We've also been amused by a sign to our Essex Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelveden Hatch. I ate in its canteen, on a 'Bunker Bash' day and found it surreal and chilling. This entrance was through a square hole sawn in the concrete shielding using diamond dust coated steel wire in a loop that ran continuously for days (or was it weeks?). The resulting surface looked polished, cutting through gravel, reinforcing rods etc. Very good quality concrete, about 12' thick I think. (Why did they cut the hole - Elf 'n Safety of course - not enough fire exits!)

    William and Daphne
    PS I see that Leo 2 was in the Thames Pageant. Wot a shime abart the wevver


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