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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


This is the very short video of me closing the lift bridge on the Prees Arm. It`s the only one that is operated by sheer physical strength and a chain instead of using a windlass to operate the hydraulic mechanism on the other bridges.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The Whitchurch arm is about double the length you see in the picture and about a mile walk into town mostly along the old canal route as some has been built over with housing.
The Whitchurch waterways trust was formed in the 1980`s with the aim to open up the arm almost into the town with plans including Lakes, moorings and a boat lift or inclined plane.
So far what you see is the start with this part having been restored in the 1990`s.
After coming through the lift bridge from the left i reversed down and spent a couple of days chilling out in the sunshine reading and watching boats go by on the mainline, it`s a hard life. That`s NB Valerie the first boat in.

Whitchurch is home to Joyce & Co. est. 1690 makers of clocks for churches and public buildings.
On the left i have dug out a picture taken in Chester on a 2006 cruise.
The mechanism of this clock was the work of Joyce & Co.

One of the old timber framed buildings in Whitchurch.

Below is the entrance to the Prees branch, the main Llangollen canal goes from where i am standing to the left under the footbridge. The Prees branch built in the 1800`s is now just about a mile long and has 2 lift bridges. At the end is a marina constructed on the site of an old clay pit the rest of the arm is now a nature reserve. The arm never did reach Prees only the hamlet of Quina Brook.

Above lift bridge No. 1 on the arm is grade ll listed and the only bridge operated by pulling on the chain. I did a very short video of myself operating this bridge and will blog it when i can get a good enough net signal to download it.

The end of the arm

The shallow canal now forms part of the nature reserve

I walked as far as the first bridge and found it had been filled in where the fence is under the bridge probably by a farmer as the infill is wide enough for tractors etc, beyond this the shallow water continues.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Well i have just enjoyed a meal of Lamb steaks, new pots & peas and like all of us addicted to Nicotine i rolled a fag and just sat listening, not much to hear which made it all the better because the only noise was the fan in the Laptop and the birds.....sheer bliss.
Left Wrenbury early afternoon and just cruised along just above tickover, i think a toddler could have kept up with me crawling but as i`ve the rest of my life why rush the sun was shining and i was free. With hardly any boats moving it was sheer joy with an occasional stop to make a cuppa.
Five locks and a couple of bridges to negotiate i arrived at the 3 locks that lead up to the staircase flight at Grindley Brook.
After climbing up through the staircase flight above with the lockeepers help i stopped at the service point and dumped the rubbish and emptied the loo cassette then moored up for the night.

The following day along came Eric & Elsie on NB Bendigedig after their winter stay in Llangollen and as i haven`t seen them for quite some time i put the kettle on and we had a good chinwag. After an hour just as they were going along came Ray & Joyce on Bittern who i last met in Skipton on the Leeds & Liverpool about a year ago so on went the kettle again.
Above they pose by their boats although Joyce seems to have hidden behind Ray.

Sitting at the dinette later in the evening after i closed the cafe i was a bit concerned about the boat in front, well not so much the boat but his BBQ sitting on the rear seat of his boat. I think i would have used the towpath just in case.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Just a short video of the electrically operated bridge at Wrenbury. I thought the G`children would like it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I have been at Wrenbury for the past 5 days waiting for Royal Mail to deliver my post that my daughter in law Bev posted last Thursday and as has happened previously despite 1st class postage it only arrived today(Tues). Never mind it`s a lovely place to moor and i got my first duckling picture and have spent some of the time sitting in the sunshine reading and some time having a pint by the lift bridge watching the boats go by.

St. Margaret`s church built in red Cheshire Sandstone looks magnificent surrounded on all sides by a very tidy graveyard the grass being kept short around every grave. From the canal a footpath crosses a field full of cows and takes you through church grounds to the Post office/stores and together with 2 pubs this makes up the village of Wrenbury.

For the single handed boater like myself the Llangollen throws up a few obstacles by way of lift bridges the majority of which are like the one pictured above. As you can see by the moored boats, the towpath is on the left but the bridge lifting mechanism is on the right making getting off the boat a problem with the overgrown vegetation but on your own it is possible although for some reason BW have only put mooring bollards on the far side of this bridge so a handy bush or tree is used to tie the rope on.
This lift bridge at Wrenbury throws up a different problem for the lone sailor as getting off on the right is not an option as there`s a hire base here and that bit where the people are standing is all there is to use. I got over this by putting the boat along the fence front centre and pushed the bow up to the other side. All that did then was walk through the boat wrapped the front rope around the fence where they are standing operated the bridge (this one is electric) and back through the boat to steer through tying on bollards the other side and then lowering the bridge.

Good night.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


As it`s half term there has been a marked increase in the number of hire boats on the water and as i am going onto what is thought to be one of the busiest canals, the Llangollen, i decided to spend a couple of days on the Middlewich Arm that connects the Shroppie with the Trent and Mersey. The reason was that as i passed Hurleston junction i observed a queue of 4 boats waiting to enter the Llangollen at the locks which didn`t surprise me and only confirmed my belief that it would be chaotic on the Llangollen till the half term finished Friday.

So under the bridge above and just 30 mins cruise to find a nice quiet spot that gave me a chance to change the gearbox oil and although it wasn`t quite due i changed the engine oil as well.

All i had for company were the cows pictured through the galley window. Four ex working boats

came by on their way back from the boat gathering at Ellesmere Port Boat Museum. They must have added to the queue at the lock some mile or so ahead as i had just returned from a walk that way and there were 4 holiday boats waiting to go down the lock and 2 waiting to come up.

After a couple of days i went down through this same busy lock, but only after noting a gap of an hour with no boats passing me which told me i wouldn`t be in a queue, to re- fuel the boat at Venetian Marina because i knew from past experience that the price of fuel tends to be higher on the Llanglollen as the marinas` have a monopoly with the canal being one way in and out.
With the boat turned i went back through the lock to spend a night at the junction so that i could jump on a bus into Nantwich for a few bags of grub from good old Morrison's.
I have now come up the 4 locks onto the Llangollen but have only gone a short distance and will wait till Friday afternoon to move again by which time some of the hire boats will be back at base with the Saturday finishers moored near their bases ready to hand back at 9am.
Post to collect at Wrenbury post office ( thanks Bev) and then enjoy the Journey in and out of Wales until finally finishing in Wales at Llangollen. Might just ride the steam train this time as the last time i did was with Valerie, the boys and Tammy our Golden Retriever some 15 years ago. Happy days.............
Well i think i will throw a few logs into the fire as it`s raining and a bit chilly here and then settle down to watch the footie.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Leaving Audlem just past the stables at the bottom of the locks i spotted this mooring that if i had known would have been my choice for my stay in Audlem still it`s not going anywhere so
perhaps next time. My decision to move was not to cover any great distance but what this lifestyle offers, the chance to change the view or moor away from towns and villages so just an hour cruise and i chose the moorings below at Coole Pilate. These moorings like a great many
others along the Shroppie are provided by the Shropshire Union Canal Society and here they have not only installed seating but each table has a BBQ stand next to it. Nothing here other than a couple of farms not even a pub just peace and quiet.
Moving on after 2 days of relaxation Hack green locks and the not so secret canalside bunker. It opened as a museum in 1997 and i did visit back in 2006 on a previous cruise and below is a picture taken of me playing the part. Click on the link above to read all about the place.

I spotted the Cormorant below and fully expected it to fly off as i passed but he just posed at the top of a dead tree and after the photo he spread his wings to dry off before his next dive into the water for dinner.
The Easter w`end was good weather wise with 2 warm Sunny days and 2 bright but breezy and a chance for my gardener to tidy up around the boat as i was expecting a visitor to come aboard
and below Carol my first to register as a blog follower poses for the camera. Not only did she bring her lovely self but also a nice big cream sponge cake.......yum. Carol knew she would be visiting friends in the area so we arranged to meet and a smashing couple of hours were spent chatting. Nice to meet you Carol.
Always nice to meet blog readers so don`t be shy, I don`t bite do i Carol.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


A lazy blog for Easter W`end

For Kevin, all that remains of the rail line from Mkt. Drayton

Leaking top gate Audlem

For Tractor mad G`son Keirnan

Wrekin hills 12 miles away

Audlem Flight

Nice view part way down the Audlem flight

Still a few more of the 15 locks to do

Old village water pump located behind the old Co-op shop

Just make out the flow of water that feeds the pump

15c church in Audlem

NB Valerie outside the Shroppie Fly pub with Audlem Mill on the right

The old boat horse stables at bottom of Audlem 15

Friday, April 10, 2009


Market Drayton in Shropshire could be called the 3 counties town with Cheshire & Staffordshire being close neighbours.
1245 it was granted a market charter.
1651 a fire destroyed most of the towns half timbered and mostly thatched roof buildings.
1725 Robert Clive( Clive of India) was born just outside the town.
1823 the Buttercross Market shelter was built.
1830`s the canal arrived.
1860`s the railway arrived.

With the arrival of the railway the cattle market moved from the town centre to the rail station and following the closure of the railway in the 1960`s the site became in the 1990`s a Morrison's supermarket with the cattle market now located just outside town over the old railway bridge that is the only reminder of what was once a busy site.

This shows how high the embankments were that Telford built to carry the canal across low ground. I was moored up there and this was an easy route into town.
Betton Mill now converted into flats

Below the Buttercross Market shelter from where farmers wives sold their produce still houses a bell to be rung in case of fire. The building behind and to the left was the Cheshire Cheese an Inn during the 1800`s that was used for the prosecution of felons, what we call courts although i bet a few modern day felons wished they could get a pint while waiting the verdict.

This is the Tudor House built 1653 after the fire of 1651 destroyed much of Market Drayton town centre. Over the years it`s been a fishmongers, bank and restaurant also a stream runs below it.

Below leaving Market Drayton passing on the right what was in the 1960/80`s the Ladyline hire base now housing but the stern end moorings still remain.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Leaving Norbury Jct. and passing through Grub St. Cutting the village of High Offley and the
canal side Anchor Inn are passed. The Anchor opened in 1830 and has been in the same family for a hundred years. I had a drink here some 18 months ago and the beer was served in jugs from the cellar. The inside is just 2 tiny bars each about the size of a small terraced house front room and the bar is tiny behind which is the Landlady`s lounge also if you drink to much the Loos` are outside. Click the link to read about it
.A mile further on is Shebdon Embankment and towards the end lies the old chocolate factory where chocolate crumb was loaded on to boats and taken to Cadburys at Bournville on the outskirts of Birmingham.
Moving along passing through Woodseaves Cutting and the lower picture shows the rock sides
that the canal builders cut through.

And below another of those tall grand bridges.
Just need to drop through the 5 locks at Tyrley and Market Drayton will be home for a few days.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs