Friday, 16 September 2016

Cast Off Before Sunrise.

Friday 16th September, 2016 near Frankton Junction.
We left lovely Llangollen early this morning with some reluctance but with a wealth of happy memories.
There are three sections on the four mile arm between Llangollen and Trevor where the canal is so narrow that only one boat can pass at a time. Each of these sections is a few hundred yards long, so there's a risk of meeting a boat coming the other way in the middle. To prevent this, we did two things. Firstly, we started at 6:15 in the morning, 15 minutes before sunrise.
Secondly, as we passed the horse-drawn ticket office, R dropped M off and she walked on ahead to check if anyone else was mad enough to be moving at this time in the morning. She kept R updated by text and phone.
It was a good thing we did, because in the middle of the three sections, there were two boats coming the other way and R and MM had to wait for them to clear the section before proceeding. Thank heavens for mobile phones!
M said that it was magic watching the sun rise over the Vale of Llangollen as she walked along the towpath.
At one point, she climbed down from the towpath to take a photograph of the old railway line. It must have been a truly scenic journey up to Llangollen by steam train.
After an hour and a half, MM arrived at Trevor, watched by M standing on the bridge that marks the end of the arm.
Just by the entrance to the aqueduct is a stylish and clever collage of local materials in the form of a hand.
A certain amount of concentration is required to keep MM from bumping the sides of the metal trough 140ft above the River Dee!
If you want to drain the aqueduct for maintenance, then this is the handle that you need to pull...
And this is the result - either that or he had way too many beers in the pub!
M walked most of the way across the aqueduct, so today she walked about 5 miles.
This time the lift bridge, just round the corner, had just been lowered by the boat in front (they didn't look back to check if anyone was following). M grizzled that it took 52 turns to raise it and another 52 turns to lower it again.

The rising sun illuminated the aqueduct as we sailed on towards Chirk.
Outside Chirk Marina, we moored up - we had promised ourselves the Big Breakfast as our reward for the early start. So, we sat down to a feast of bacon, eggs and tomatoes.
M walked the towpath in the Chirk tunnel, MM's tunnel light illuminating the path before her.
Chirk aqueduct always seems to be overshadowed by the famous Pontcysyllte but it is a very handsome structure in its own right and set off to perfection by the railway viaduct that runs alongside it. All we were missing was a passing train - or even better - a steam engine!
At the far end of the Chirk aqueduct was another of the C&RT's amusing notices - and she doesn't look bad for 200 (note from M - I hope he isn't referring to me!).
At Rhoswiel, we stopped again to visit the Wyevale Garden Centre. M was delighted to find a perfect pair of "boating" shoes for next year in the sale at half price. Meanwhile, R was delighted to have a proper coffee at their Costa.
On our way to the garden centre, we passed a group of ladies on a "girlie birthday day out" on a hire boat. They were clearly having enormous fun despite (or maybe because of)  not having a clue what they were doing. Seven of them trying to moor up one small boat!
On our way back from the garden centre, we saw that they had settled in to enjoy a slap up lunch of home made goodies, including a huge Victoria sponge and a mouth watering trifle.
We eventually moored up just before Frankton Junction, which is where the Montgomery Canal branches off the Llangollen Canal. Tomorrow, we are booked in to go through the Frankton Locks and on to the Montgomery.

Last night was technically the full moon, but tonight the sky was clear and the moon looked huge - and beautiful.
Today: 14 miles, 2 locks and 6.2 hours.
Trip: 365 miles, 245 locks and 265.9 hours.

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