Sunday 29 May 2022

Hampton Bank

Today's Canal - Llangollen

We awoke to a wet and grey morning. It had obviously been rather chilly overnight as everything outside was cold to touch. At least we had kept rather snug inside!

As we had no mobile signals where we were moored we opted to move on a short distance to one of the visitor moorings with access to Whixall Moss

Indeed as soon as we arrived we found that we could 'hear' very well indeed. As there are no churches within walking distance for some while, we thought that we would listen in to one of the streamed services. Later we uploaded yesterday's blog.

By late morning the rain was gradually easing off and we took a gamble and set off on the walk we wanted to do around Whixall Moss, a nature reserve especially focussed on peat and mosses. We have done this before and wanted to remind ourselves.

The fluffy white cotton like seeds make quite an impact.

Not sure why this small patch is such a vivid colour unlike the rest of the footpaths and tracks.

This year's bracken growth is beginning to show with the fronds gradually uncurling as if from a long sleep.

Towards the end of the track back towards the canal towpath, we spotted the remains of Albert Allmark's Peat Mill, rather fewer than we recalled. Albert was one of many who dug out the peat to sell to local farmers. He worked here from 1945 to 1995 - unlike most commercial cutters who used machinery to recover the blocks of peat, he and his son dug by hand. He devised this machine to break it down into fine material and sold in half hundredweight bags. (If some populist politicians  have their way perhaps we will all be reverting to this measure and allowing once more the destruction of such sensitive environments)

We returned to the canal towpath at Morris Lift Bridge. Wild flowers are still in abundance  beside the water.

Let's hope that the outsize flowers on the brambles indicates a bumper crop of blackberries later in the year.

At three places along this stretch we could see leaks from the canal into the surrounding ground. Although the flow was distance it was not great so hopefully someone is keeping an eye on them to avoid a sudden collapse and the consequent lengthy closure whilst the gaps are fixed.

Back at the boat it was time for lunch and by the time we had finished the weather had turned very much brighter and warmer.

From the canal we had a different view of the Moss.

Morris Bridge is the record so far for the number of turns to raise it - 83. Two other boats arrived shortly after us so we had a bit of a wait whilst we left them through before lower the bridge deck once more. As the mechanism is on the off side, the person working it is trapped there until it can be lowered! The lift bridges along this canal are unusually close to the water level - even though here the land is much lower than the canal. If more like those elsewhere then there would be an impossible humped approach.

At Whixall Junction the short Prees Branch goes off, to the right in this view. Only about half of the original remains - we may visit on our return journey.

A little later we passed this new feature - the Mammoth Tower - "You are about to step into one of the rarest habitats on earth". We may find time on the return to take a closer look.

We continued for a while and took a chance on a good, open, visitor mooring, a little bit further from Ellesmere than we might have done but the other possibility is, we think we recall, rather overlooked by trees. We did at least get enough of a signal to upload this blog but we will have to see about streaming.

7.9 Miles - 0 Locks

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