Friday, 13 July 2012

The Llangollen Experience

My computer, quite contrarily, has decided to work again.

A week ago when it ‘pinged’ off quite suddenly, as it is regularly wont to do because of a faintly fluctuating 12 volt system on this ship, I tried in vain to get it to start again but it wouldn’t, prompting me to think that the machine had finally taken as much abuse as it could and had subsequently expired.


007  Approaching Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

‘Roots and Wings’ approaching Pontcysyllte Aqueduct


No matter what I did, which included trying it through the other lead on the 240 volt system, the machine remained quiet, cold and quite dead, apart from being able to trip the 240 volt fuse every time I tried to switch it on.

So I had written it off and had decided to buy another.

However this afternoon I decide to try it just one more time ….. just to make certain … and lo and behold when I pushed the switch the bright fixed light clicked strongly back at me immediately, while the other light began winking at me in the usual and very familiar fashion.

Just as if nothing had ever happened.

So my fingers are crossed even while I am typing in the hope that the light will continue blinking at me till I’ve finished this post.


088 At  Corrag

Janis the Steam at Carrog Station


The two little ships are now moored this wet rainy day at the moorings near Chirk Marina on the Llangollen Canal and in fact ‘Futurest’ has been here for sometime while her partner has ventured along the narrow and shallow part of the canal to the beautiful little town of Llangollen. This little place, huddled in the steep Dee Valley, is a delightful cross between a lively seaside town with its ice-cream, postcard and candyfloss shops and a popular mountain resort, complete with camping, climbing, walking gear and fishing tackle shops.

It has its own railway station too, complete with steam locomotive where one can travel back in time, as well as the eight miles along the steep sided valley of the River Dee, through ancient railway stations painted with the brown and cream livery of the old Great Western Railway and even complete with Victorian post boxes that are still in use. To a man of my age this was all very evocative of the days of my childhood. When Janis and I took a trip on the train and back it was almost too much excitement for me.

They say that this canal is the busiest in the country and it probably is. This is understandable as its two breath-taking aqueducts on their own, the stone built Chirk which runs parallel with the equally magnificent railway viaduct and the thrilling Pontcysyllte just a little further on, makes it one of those destinations that one has to visit before one dies. The beautiful scenery as well, even in the low cloud and almost continuous rain that we have been experiencing, makes it so different to any other waterway in the country. The whole of the Llangollen experience has been quite stunning.



Valle de Crucis Abbey

I crewed for Janis on ‘Roots and Wings’ which was very useful during the narrow sections that are only wide enough for one boat at a time to navigate.

There are no traffic lights so I walked ahead with my walky-talky, trying to do my best as a traffic policeman with boats that are continuously passing at peak times (and don’t seem to care how many are waiting patiently at the other end either). In that every-man-for-himself situation, it needs somebody with communication to physically hold up their hand to stop oncoming traffic to let the boats from the other direction have a go too.

It can be quite a nightmare as well as time consuming.

We tied up the ship in the basin at the end of the navigable part of the canal and stayed there for 48 hours walking, again in the rain mostly, to the end of the canal at the semi-circular weir off the River Dee called the Horseshoe Falls, as well as travelling further up the valley on the train to the tiny village of Carrog, perched precariously above the river.  Later back at Llangollen we shopped for provisions in town at a Spar shop and walked up the Valle Crucis, or Valley of the Cross, to the ruins of a medieval Cistertian abbey (like many of the others destroyed during the Reformation).

For me overall it has been quite an awe inspiring time.

We brought ‘Roots and Wings’ back to the moorings at Chirk yesterday evening and this morning I turned ‘Futurest’ around (in the rain) at the marina entrance so she is now facing the right direction for us to make a start back to Hurleston Junction and the Shropshire Union Canal tomorrow morning ….. Rain permitting.

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