Friday 3 May 2024

Turning onto the Llangollen to complete our trip

Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd May; Nantwich to Swanley Bridge marina

We were up in good time for Dave to leave for Nantwich station for the journey back to Droitwich to fetch the car.  At 8.30 he set off – it’s a tidy walk to the station.  A bit later on Jess and I walked the half-mile to the footbridge that gives access to the facilities block near Nantwich basin to dispose of rubbish.

Some of the wooden sculptures that have been in place along the towpath for years are beginning to show their age, but the horse is still in pretty good nick.  We strolled back towards the aqueduct in sunshine, and the weather was getting increasingly warm for a change.  Lovely!

Get a move on Mum

I got on with some tidying and called Swanley Bridge marina to confirm our booking for the next few weeks.  Jess needed another walk after lunch, so we went a bit further than this morning, but not by much as I am still recovering from that chest infection.  By now it was lovely and warm and the wind had dropped.  I was forced to ditch the thermals and lined trousers for much lighter-weight clothes before we left!  I met a couple of CRT chaps who were talking to passers-by about the canals and raising interest, rather than asking for money.  They said people were on the whole friendly and interested, which is obviously good.

Jess adored them, as they had a large box of Gravy Bones.  By the horse sculpture was a brass model of the sculpture trail, with little versions of the various sculptures.  Rather difficult to photograph.

What the horse said

Dave got back at about 4, after a long and weary trudge from the marina where he had left the car.  There used to be a little area below the aqueduct where you could leave your car, but it’s not there now.  He  dressed for the cold this morning so he got very hot.  The cloud started to come over and it was raining by 6, but we didn’t need a fire.

Moored on the embankment

On the Thursday we were away by 8.30, dressed warmly as the air was cold, but the heat of the sun was enough to bring out the flies to bother these horses – their tails swishing and skin twitching all the time.

Near the Henhull moorings we saw CRT recovering a cruiser.  They were all uncommunicative and serious, which made us wonder if there had been a tragedy.  We had to wait at Hurleston bottom lock for a single-hander, who I helped down the lock, before Dave brought Bonjour in.

As I walked up to open the second lock, I was spotted by the volunteer who had just arrived, so we made speedy progress, removing various layers of clothing as we did.

Volunteer helping at the third

We marvelled at the long stretches of vacant mooring along the first stretch, though I don’t know what the depth was like.  The flow of the water which characterises the Llangollen canal, especially the closer you get to Llangollen itself, was not apparent.  It wasn’t long before we were turning into the marina and slotting into our berth.  They are lovely people here, very welcoming.  The boat will be here for a few weeks as there are various things to be attended to at home.  We left the marina at 2.30, in t-shirts and a hot car.

Under the aqueduct this time

We stopped at Gloucester services, where it was nothing like as warm, and by the time we got to Devon it was jolly cold!  It’s a long drive, but the traffic wasn’t too bad and it was a good journey.

Today's journey; we rose up 4 locks and covered just over 4 miles.


Waterways: Droitwich Junction, Worcester & Birmingham; BCN Main Line, Wolverhampton level, Engine Arm; Staffs & Worcester; Shroppie and Llangollen.

80 miles, 4¾ furlongs of narrow canals; 1 mile, 7¼ furlongs of broad canals; 102 narrow locks.  The short section of broad canal is from the basin entrance at Nantwich to Hurleston Junction, as the northern locks on the Shroppie are broad ones.

8 tunnels (Tardebigge (580 yards long), Shortwood (614 yards long), Wast Hill (2726 yards long), Edgbaston (105 yards long), Summit (103 yards long), Coseley (360 yards long), Wolverhampton (109 yards long) and Cowley (81 yards long)) – a total of 2 miles, 5¼ furlongs underground.

5 non-minor aqueducts; Stewart and Engine Arm over BCN Main Line, Tividale over the Netherton tunnel brach, Stretton and Nantwich (on the Shroppie).

Thanks to CanalplanAC

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