Monday 10 June 2024

Coasting downhill

Thursday 6th June; Llangollen basin to Chirk tunnel north portal

I totally cocked up the timings for getting to Llangollen on Friday, I had wanted to do the parkrun on Saturday.  You are only allowed 48 hours’ mooring in Llangollen (online or in the basin) and our time will be up on Friday anyway, so we decided to move on today.  Last time we were here – 2015, I think – it cost £6 per night.  Now it’s £13!  Though you do get free electricity, so we had the shore-line out like everyone else, and made sure everything was charged up before we left.  We were away at 8, leaving the basin in bright sunshine, but wrapped up against the chilly breeze.  NB Waterway Routes was moored  in the basin - we have seen them twice on this trip, but both times no-one was about.

Flags fluttering in the chilly breeze above the boat trip's ticket office

We didn’t expect to meet anyone in the narrows this early in the day, but nevertheless Jess and I went ahead to be sure.  This time I remembered to take a photo of the wonderful view of the Dee valley from the towpath.

The Vale of Llangollen, I think it's called

It was much easier cruising back along the Llangollen canal, as the current is now aiding your progress rather than holding you back.  We did meet one or two boats which had crossed the aqueduct earlier, but all was quiet as we crept through the bridge into the basin.  We moored up on the Anglo-Welsh wharf for a pump-out and fuel.  We hired a boat from here many years ago.  We met a couple who had seen the aqueduct on TV and decided to come straight up from London to visit.  They drove up yesterday and got up so early that they walked across it in splendid isolation, and went down the footpath to the Dee to admire it from below, all before they saw another soul.  They were now sitting in the sun and waiting for their trip across the aqueduct by boat.  While we had been settling up (very reasonably priced), the basin had been gradually filling with craft waiting to cross, so there was no room for us to reverse back out.  Instead we went through the footbridge down the Ruabon arm to turn.

All that’s left of the Ruabon canal

As we returned, the last of the boats crossing from the other direction were entering the basin, along with a couple of boats arriving from Llangollen.  Unfortunately one boat bound for Llangollen failed to realise they had to turn under the bridge and came straight on towards us – they looked horrified that they were going towards a dead end! 

The basin was so congested they probably couldn’t see where they were supposed to be going.

We just had to hope they managed to wind, as the queue had started to move.  We were third in line.  This time I was on the scary side, and the drop is really very close indeed.

Jess wore her harness as before, and this time she was on the towpath side, so it felt much safer as far as she was concerned!  but she still was attached to the boat.

Belt and braces

The weather was wonderful, brilliant sunshine and not too windy.

Arch shadows

Bye for this trip

We pulled in for water on the other side of the aqueduct and waved to the trip boat which had winded a little further on for the return trip.  Next was the Fron lift bridge.  Strangely, this time it completely raised in 78 turns, just as the lady said yesterday.  I wonder why it didn’t behave before?  We stopped between Whitehouse bridge and tunnel for lunch, before slipping easily through the tunnel.  I forgot to time the return trip but it was certainly quicker going downstream!  We moored on the rings before the north portal of Chirk tunnel, and went off for a walk to the National Trust parkland round Chirk Castle.  We had read about the pretty gates –

Wolves on the finials (it says on the a website)

which were made in 1712 by two local blacksmiths, the Davies brothers.  Pretty magnificent!  Jess had to be on the lead for part of it, because sheep were grazing, but part of the walk was in the woods which was great.  We didn’t go anywhere near the castle itself, didn’t even catch sight of it.

Rather than crossing the canal by the road, we followed the path directly above the tunnel portal.

Above the north portal

It was a lovely sunny evening.  Unfortunately not much sun penetrated the trees into the deep shady cutting, where by dusk seven boats were moored.

Just under 8 miles, Pontcysyllte aqueduct, Fron lift bridge