Tuesday 4 October 2022


Today's Canals - Llangollen, Shropshire Union

We set off this morning only a little later than usual - the view was very grey, the sky overcast but the temperature was far from cold, despite being rather so overnight.

We were not far from the Hurleston locks and when we arrived we prepared the top lock. As we descended we could see a couple of volunteers coming up to meet us having helped another boat through to the bottom. They were particularly helpful and quite friendly - they kept to the guidelines impeccably!

At the bottom there are some rather heavy duty pumps. We had noticed them when we arrived here a week ago but had not found out what they were for. This time we asked one of the volunteers and he said that they had been used to pump water from the main Shroppie canal into the reservoir during three weeks of the hottest weather when, presumably, there was inadequate flow of water down from Llangollen.

As we were exiting from the bottom lock the volunteer spotted a boat coming down the main line and indicated to them that they should stop to give way to us as we were already on our way out. Their responses were unclear but their actions made their intent quite clear - they speeded to pass us come what may!

This was doubly unfortunate as this hire boat (one of the new company operating from Middlewich) proceeded at an incredibly slow pace (once they had blocked our way). Passing moored boats they almost came to a standstill and our propulsion could not manage to match their speed. We had to spend much of the run into Nantwich not idling but drifting out of gear with just the occasional burst to keep us in the right direction. 

At least this gave us more time to study the surroundings. The horse statue just before the entry into Nantwich Basin (which marks the end of the broad Chester Canal and the start of the narrow canal) seems in fine fettle - weathering well.

Passage over the Nantwich Aqueduct was at an even slower speed . . . As we began to leave the town behind us there is a winding hole just after a bridge. Suddenly, without a sign, this boat turned sharp right and we had to come to a standstill whilst it make a turn to ho back the way it had come. Overall we had taken nearly half an hour longer to get here than we had expected.

We continued, now at our own pace but frequently having to give way for moored boats (some of the popular winter mooring spots seemed to be being 'pre booked' already, until we reached the two Hack Green locks. A single hander hire boat was just behind us (he had joined the queue just after the aqueduct). He normally cruises with his wife but she was unable to join him on this occasion. Undeterred he opted to try it on his own and found that Chas Harden boats were one of the few hire companies prepared to accept a booking from a single hander. He kindly came up to the lock as we filled it and offered to close up after us. We were intending to stop above the locks for lunch - which we did - and then returned the favour by setting and closing the second lock for him.

The next section has long straight sections and plenty of places where it is possible to moor. Most of them had just one, or perhaps two, boats moored so plenty of slowing down! Sometimes we could see at least three mooring spots ahead.

Not long after passing the entrance to Overwater Marina we pulled in for the night, in sight of the start of the Audlem flight. Cruising when the days are longer we might well have at least started up the flight of 15 locks but it was nearing 15:30 and light rain had already arrived, several hours ahead of the forecast. The only drawback of this mooring is, as we discovered a little later, mobile phone reception is not great. We may have even more time for reading and internet surfing tomorrow as rain is expected for most of the day.

8.7 Miles - 6 Locks 

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