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London to Llangollen - we join the Canal

Monday 10th June, 2019
Tuesday 11th June, 2019
Wednesday 12th June, 2019
Thursday 13th June, 2019

Monday 10th June, 2019

Wales Train  photograph

Enroute for Wales

Drop Cap e got up early, had our showers and found it was raining! had to be today, of course. After breakfast Mac took the suitcases down to storage, they only charged us eighteen pounds, after quoting us 65p per bag per day, so we got a bargain.

We decided to brave the rain and walk to Euston, arriving there 45 minutes early. The train was on time, but for some reason our reserved seats were separated, although just across the aisle. The train was not full, so don't know why. At Chester we came back to earth with a jolt - a little two car sprinter, already quite full with exits blocked by bikes, babies in strollers and luggage. We managed to find seats and it was only two stops to Ruabon but we had to fight our way out. There were no taxis but we found the bus shelter with a timetable and waited for about 10 minutes till a bus came and took us to Llangollen, passing our B and B on the way.

Llangollen photograph


Drop Cap t Llangollen we found lunch in a nice old fashioned teashop, then explored the town. I need some more painkillers but was told that the only chemist was out of town at the Medical Centre, which everyone seemed to think was a long walk.

Wales Train  photograph

Llangollen Station train

Drop Cap e went down to the old railway station and watched a train from the Llangollen Steam Railway puffing back and forth, then mooched around until 1500 then arrived at the Four Poster B and B just as reception was opening.

B and B photograph

Mac at the Four Poster

Drop Cap ur room was in a cosy attic in an almost private wing with our own staircase with its own door opening off the breakfast room. When we came down for breakfast next morning we startled some of the guests already at the table!

Riverside Walk photograph

Llangollen Riverside Walk

Drop Cap ur landlady, Angie, told us the way to the Medical Centre Pharmacy, only about five minutes walk away. Not so far. Perhaps we looked old and decrepit to the people we asked!

B and B photograph

Riverside Walk

Drop Cap o we walked there, got some more paracetamol and then walked back along the river walk, very pleasant with big trees, picnic tables and rushing white water over the weir.

Taxidermy photograph

Taxidermy Studio beside the Bridge End Hotel

Drop Cap e went home and had a cuppa with an iced "snail" bun which Mac bought at the teashop we had lunch in, then it started raining heavily. We waited for it to lighten up then walked up to the canal basin to see where the boats are. We found dinner in the Bridge End Hotel, just down the road and came back. There was an interesting shopfront next to the Bridge End, a Taxidermist! You don't see many of those!

It is still raining heavily, just our luck!

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Tuesday 11th June, 2019

Steam train photograph

Puffing Billy at Llangollen

Steam train photograph

Mac on Llangollen train

Drop Cap t rained all night and we awoke this morning to very heavy rain which did not bode well for a day's trog around town waiting to join the boats at 1600. We had our good B and B breakfast then consulted Angie, our landlady. To our great appreciation Angie offered the use of her shed to store the bags until we needed them. So we trailed off to see how much of the day we could spend indoors.

Steam train photograph

Outside the train

Drop Cap e started off at the Llangollen Heritage Railway which was a fun, steamy ride, despite not being able to see much through the rain streaked windows. The view was quite "impressionistic", a watery landscape. We got out at the end of the line, feeling that our eyes had just jumped back to normal, from the blurry view from the train window to the clear view of the station.

Steam train photograph

On the Platform

Drop Cap hen we got back to Llangollen we walked off up the hill to Plas Newydd, former home of the "Ladies of Llangollen". I had wanted to go there last time we were in Llangollen but the hill was too steep for me then and I had a load going in the Laundrette.

Plas Newydd photograph

Brochure Cover, Plas Newydd

Drop Cap e got extremely wet walking up the hill, not particularly far but uncomfortable walking due to minimal footpaths. Plas Newydd was extremely interesting, although photography was not allowed inside and it was too wet to wander in the lovely looking gardens. The wood carvings and panel work made the house "Gothic" and the story of the ladies was very unusual, especially for the time. Apparently the house was fairly ordinary when the ladies arrived but the prevailing fashion for Gothic ruins and architecture enticed the ladies to renovate their home with bits and pieces from other sites, which were donated to them from friends. It certainly is a look!

Drop Cap he café there was full so we walked back to the town and had hot chocolate and tomato and basil soup in a little café. Just the thing to warm us up, if not to dry us out!

Then we found our way to the local library to connect with WiFi and chatted with Geoff before heading back to the B and B to collect the bags.

Boat Cabin photograph

Our Cabin

Drop Cap e bedraggled up to the towpath, where we met a couple of others looking for the boats. They had apparently had emailed directions on where to find the boats but we played it by ear. The guy in the wharf office having told us yesterday that the hotel boats were in the basin, we went up further, down a track to the basin and found them. The boats seem colourful even in the rain but we haven't had a chance to really look at them yet.

Narrowboat Bathroom photograph

Mac in our Bathroom

Drop Cap he cabin is, of course, tiny, with a bunk on either wall, some drawer and hanging space and a bijou bathroomette. We shall see how it all works tomorrow. The photo of the bathroom does not show much of it, really, off to the left of Mac is the shower stall and the toilet, perfectly adequate if not luxurious. Luckily we have travelled by narrowboat often before, otherwise after our extra luxe tour it might have seemed a culture shock.

Boat passengers photograph

The Passengers at Dinner, first night (taken by Jenny)

Drop Cap he crew seem a cheerful lot and the rest of the passengers eclectic to say the least. There is one old guy with a long white beard, (Michael) and an elderly lady (in her 90s) (Pearl) who have been canalling for years and know all the canals (they are not connected in any way) a younger (forties perhaps, fifties max) NZ couple,(Raewyn and Colin) two single Aussie women (Jill and Jenny) and us. Dinner was very good - ham and melon, cod steaks wrapped in prosciutto with baked potatoes and beans, a fab tiramisu, followed by a cheese board and crackers. With wine. Can't be bad (except for Weightwatchers!) I just hope the rain clears up for the mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, tomorrow.

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Wednesday 12th June, 2019

Leaving Llangollen photograph

The Leaving of Llangollen

Drop Cap till raining, and has been all night. I didn't sleep well, despite being quite comfortable. The shower etc was manageable and quite adequate. We could have had a cooked breakfast but settled for cereal, juice and toast. After breakfast we had a safety briefing from Brian the Skipper, then slowly left the marina. I put on my Rainbird and went outside for a bit then sat in the warm and chatted.

  Crewman Mac photograph

Crewman Mac

Drop Cap ac stayed outside and has virtually joined the crew, boat hauling, bridge lifting etc. He is having a ball! I would prefer it if the rain stopped, but you can't book good weather.

John on the Ponty photograph

Crewman John on the Pontcysyllte

Boat passengers photograph

crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (taken by Jenny)

Drop Cap e approached the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct circumspectly and Mac and Jill and I went out and sat in the welldeck to watch as we went over. The view is, as ever, incredible, but we do feel that you see it better from down in the valley.

Boat passengers photograph

Jill and Michael about to Walk

Drop Cap fter the PA Mac and I and Jill and Michael got off and walked the towpath as far as the Whitehouse Tunnel. It had stopped raining and was cool and pleasant walking.

Boat coming photograph

The Boats Approaching

Drop Cap ac and I reboarded just before the tunnel but Jill and Michael went on until just before the Chirk Tunnel. Jill said the first tunnel was not very pleasant, dark and spooky.

Near Chirk photograph

Jill and Michael nearly at Chirk

Drop Cap e soon arrived at Chirk Aqueduct and Viaduct, the historic place where Mac, Geoff and I first discovered narrowboating way back in 2000! We passed the actual marina where we picked up the boat, then arrived at the spectacular Chirk Aqueduct and Viaduct, where we stopped for lunch.

Chirk Aqueduct and Viaduct photograph

Chirk Aqueduct and Viaduct

Drop Cap e had a lovely lunch of vegetable quiche and peach cobbler with cream, yummy! What with fresh homemade biscuits for morning tea and fresh homemade jam sponge for afternoon tea I think we need a few more long towpath walks!

Narrowboat chef photograph

Polly in the Galley

Drop Cap ll the cooking is done by Polly, the chef with the aid of either John or Josh, crewmen who alternate as galley slaves, in the tiny cubby hole kitchen. I see her working all day, as soon as breakfast is over she makes two trays of biscuits for morning tea and starts prepping dinner. Then lunch and making a cake or slice etc for afternoon tea, then getting dinner on. It's a long hard day. She is amazing.

Feeding Ducks photograph

Polly the Duckwhisperer

Drop Cap e call her the "duck whisperer" because she adores the ducks, coots, moorfowl, geese and all other kinds of aquatic birdlife. A duck even came onto the welldeck and she hand fed it.

Amateur crewmen photograph

Mac and Michael at the Lock

Drop Cap had a nap this afternoon during which we went down our first lock, Marton Top Lock. After the locks on the Douro in Portugal I felt like Crocodile Dundee saying "That's not a lock, THIS is a lock!" Another lovely dinner, oven roasted cherry tomato soup, boeuf bourguinon, apple crumble and custard. Must do some more walking tomorrow.

PS Rosie told me tonight that we were entitled to a 10% discount for our second tour - 200 pounds refund.

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Thursday 13th June, 2019

Staircase lock photograph

Going through Frankton Staircase Lock (by Jenny)

Drop Cap aining again! But this has been an interesting day on the canal. We entered new territory for us and went down the Frankton Locks to join the Montgomery Canal, which is navigable for a day or so, and ends in a pub and a nature reserve.

Nature Reserve photograph

Banks of the Montgomery Canal

Drop Cap he Montgomery Canal Trust is restoring it in bits, so after the nature reserve part there is an empty stretch which is being rebuilt but it will be a while before it is all joined up again.

Boat Trouble photograph

Boat Trouble

Drop Cap nyway it was all fine until we stopped for lunch and Brian told us we had a problem with the rudder on the butty. We all had to go and stand on the front of the welldeck of the butty to raise its backside for examination and it was discovered that one of the brackets had broken. As we are in the middle of nowhere there was nothing to be done but go on.

Raising Boat Rear photograph

Raising the Rear (by Jenny)

Drop Cap uch more serious though is the news that there has been a breach on a weir near Grindley Brook and the canal has been closed to traffic. This is a problem because it may well hold us up so we don't get to Nantwich where we have accommodation booked. We can only play it by ear for now - nothing to be done, no point in repining.

Bridge on Monty photograph

Bridge on Montgomery Canal

Drop Cap e have now discovered that a marine welder will come and look at the broken bracket tomorrow and hopefully fix it, while we leave the butty here and cruise up to Ellesmere or somewhere during the day, then return here.

  Crewman Mac photograph

Crewman Mac and Karna Taka (the butty)


Drop Cap don't know where this will leave us in the long run, whether we get the second cruise or whether we don't. It depends on how early the CRT can get its act together,

Jill and Michael photograph

Jill and Michael

Drop Cap n a happier note, the sun came out this afternoon and the sky turned blue. Jill, Michael and Mac and I went for a walk along the towpath almost as far as it goes and had a nature walk.

 Wildflower Meadow photograph

Wildflower Meadow

Drop Cap ice to get out for a bit and Michael knows the names of all the wild flowers, birds and insects we met and gave a tutorial. He and Jill, who is a birdwatcher, lagged well behind us, since we were more interested in exercise than nature!

Macs and Michael (by Jill) photograph

Macs and Michael (by Jill)

Drop Cap here was a bit of a contretemps at dinner when both Michael and Pearl, our oldest guests, had a problem with the rice which came with the lovely chicken and tarragon sauce. The rice got stuck in their tubes and refused to move, so they both had to retire and recover. Actually both Mac and I felt it was a bit indigestible ourselves. But it was balanced by a sublime chocolate mousse torte made by Josh, the 19 year old deckhand/galley slave. See what tomorrow brings - hope at least it is sunshine!

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