30th August - 6th September 2003
7 Days, 77 Miles, 18 Locks
||New Marton Locks
||New Marton Locks
||Sun Trevor Bridge
||Sun Trevor Bridge
Saturday 30th August
For this trip we arranged to pick up a “Kennet” style
cruiser narrow boat, the “Wyre”, from Anglo Welsh’s
depot at Trevor, next to the Pontcysyllte aqueduct.
By the time we had picked the boat up, got unpacked and organised
it was 4 p.m., so we decided to do the Llangollen arm that evening
and to go across the aqueduct the following day. The Llangollen
arm winds its way for four and a quarter miles following the contours
of the valley until it reaches Llangollen Wharf.
At the Wharf there
are several tourist day boats, and even boats pulled by horses for
day trips along the canal. There is a winding point just after the
Wharf, after which the canal continues (un-navigable) up to Llantisilio
and the Horseshoe Falls.
The Llangollen Canal is one of the fastest flowing canals in the
country, and was saved from dereliction by an Act of Parliament
in 1944, which preserved it as a watercourse to carry water to Hurleston
Reservoir, to service Nantwich and Crewe.
The Llangollen arm is quite picturesque as it leaves Trevor, and
either side the canal banks are lined with concrete slabs, presumably
to protect its position on the side of the valley. The canal winds
its way towards Llangollen, past the Sun Trevor pub at bridge 41,
which is a good eating place. After bridge 41 and also bridge 44
there are very narrow sections several hundred yards long where
the canal is only wide enough for one boat. Passing points are few,
so it is advisable to send a runner ahead to ensure that nothing
As we approached Llangollen around 6 p.m. it was obvious that
mooring space was scarce. We had intended to go to the winding hole
and turn, but as there appeared to be only one mooring space left
we decided to go for that immediately. A wise move! There was a
hot air balloon festival on in Llangollen and the place was packed.
We had dinner at the River side Bistro, and watched 20 hot air
balloons of all colours glide over the roof tops in to Llangollen.
This was one of the rare occasions that I did not have my camera
to hand, which was a pity!
After a swift pint in the pub next to the river we retired for
the night, dreaming of the passage over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct
the next day!
Sunday 31st August
We were soon back at Trevor and made a quick call to the Anglo
Welsh office to get the refrigerator fixed, as it had played up
the night before. After this we edged on to the aqueduct, very slowly,
trying not to look up the Dee River towards Llangollen. On the one
side you have the towpath and the handrail, which helps to convince
the mind that you are not really 120 ft up in a 200-year-old cast
iron trough! On the other you have nothing! You cannot see the 3-inch
wide side of the cast iron trough, and it is though you are gliding
through the clouds in a 48-foot long boat!
Coming off the aqueduct we turned left, next to Canal House Pontcysyllte,
and through a small cantilever bridge, past Froncysyllte and on
the way to Chirk.
Pontcysyllte, where my grandfather on my mother's side,
Smith, was living at the time of his marriage in 1911.
The short (191 yards) Whitehouse Tunnel is followed by the longer
(459 yards) Chirk Tunnel, after which you immediately go on to the
Chirk Aqueduct. Similar to the one at Pontcysyllte, but not so high,
the Chirk Aqueduct runs alongside the more modern railway viaduct.
The aqueduct has a wide path on both sides, and is less threatening
than the Pontcysyllte aqueduct.
And so on down the Llangollen Canal. On Monday evening we moored
near bridge 12, just above the New Marton Locks.
Bridge 12, New Marton Locks
Monday 1st September
We were soon through the two New Marton locks, and headed towards
Welsh Frankton. We had intended to go down the Montgomery Canal,
but the locks at Lower Frankton are only open from 9-30 to 10-30
in the morning and it was 10-45 by the time we arrived. We continued
on to Ellesmere. We arrived around 12 noon, moored the boat at the
entrance to the Ellesmere arm, and walked in to town to do some
shopping. Ellesmere is a quiet little town, and we were amazed to
see the derelict buildings around the winding hole on the Ellesmere
arm. Down in the southeast such buildings would have immense value
for development, but in sleepy old Ellesmere their day has yet to
Junction of Llangollen Canal and the Ellesmere Arm
Leaving Ellesmere at 2 p.m. we approached the 87 yard long Ellesmere
tunnel to find a boat already coming through and a GRP boat moored
on the place reserved for boats waiting to go through. This made
things difficult and we ran aground. I was quietly cursing the man
in the GRP boat for breaking the rules and using the tunnel moorings.
However we got through and on our way. We had not got too much further
when GRP-man was buzzing behind us in his boat, trying to get past!
I pulled over to the side to let him through. To our amusement we
came across him again half an hour later broken down at the side
of the canal! He asked for a tow; my immediate reaction was to ignore
him, but he had his wife and 3 kids with him so we took pity on
him and towed him. He had moorings at Whixall Marina down the Prees
Branch of the canal, so we kindly towed him back to the Marina before
going on our way. It was only a mile each way down the Prees Branch,
and I suppose we saw part of the canal system that we would not
otherwise have seen, but it did take a lot of time. We moored for
the evening just after bridge 43, being unable to find suitable
moorings at Platt Lane (which would have meant that we could have
gone to the pub!)
Tuesday 2nd September
We had a leisurely day on Tuesday, going only as far as Whitchurch,
some 4 miles. We moored up in the Whitchurch arm, next to narrow
boat “Kentish Maid” owned by a lady called Carol who
lived on her boat. We got chatting to here and she gave us a guided
tour of her 1-month old Liverpool Boats 58ft narrowboat.
We went into Whitchurch for lunch, quite a walk from the mooring,
and when we returned we found Carol trying to get a new wicker chair
through a very narrow door in to her boat. The only way to do it
was to unscrew both doors, and I promptly gave her a hand to do
In the afternoon we walked about a mile down the canal to Grindley
Brook locks. We decided not to take the boat down, as it would have
involved 10 locks before we could wind and return. No point in doing
20 locks just for the hell of it!
We moored overnight at Whitchurch, having a leisurely dinner and
an early night.
Wednesday 3rd September
Setting off from Whitchurch we had a leisurely trip back up the
canal to Ellesmere, and moored up in the Ellesmere Arm. In the evening
we went in to the town and had dinner at the Black Lion pub, where
they did a very nice Shank of Lamb!
Thursday 4th September
We set off from Ellesmere at 8 am to be at Lower Frankton
for 9-30 am so that we could go down the Montgomery Canal. Ann and
Rog were joining us for the day, and just as we arrived at Lower
Frankton they appeared in their Toyota Landcruiser on the nearby
canal bridge. Excellent timing. We only had to wait 15 minutes and
the lockkeeper opened the Frankton Locks. We were third in line,
but it still took 50 minutes to get through the 4 locks. We carried
on through the Graham Palmer Lock, and then through the Aston Locks,
before winding at bridge 78. The canal was quite narrow here and
the passage restricted by reeds; winding was a bit tricky as it
was very muddy, and we had to pole-off.
Waiting to enter the Montgomery Canal
We were soon back at the Aston Locks where we moored for lunch…..
taken on the cruiser deck of the narrow boat under bright sunshine
with a nice glass of white wine.
Sue, Rog &
Ann at the Aston Locks
We headed back up the canal and arrived back at the Frankton Locks
around 4-30 p.m. We moored up the boat and went into Ellesmere to
look in an antique shop, where we had seen a Staffordshire flat-back
that we liked. We had fish and chips in Ellesmere, and Ann and Rog
took us back to the boat before they left for home.
Friday 5th September
We were first through the Frankton Locks and headed back to Trevor.
We went up the Llangollen arm again to the first winding point near
bridge 38 and moored for the night. We walked the mile or so down
the canal to the Sun Trevor pub for dinner, the walk back being
more tricky having had a couple of beers and it being quite dark
along the canal! We were alarmed when two motorbikes appeared from
nowhere in the darkness and missed us by inches!
Saturday 6th September
We were back at the Anglo Welsh wharf at Trevor by 9 a.m., our
week’s holiday over. We just had time to call in to the antique
shop at Ellesmere and buy the Staffordshire flat back!