Welcome to 2018, may all your troubles be little ones!
We hope you enjoyed last night, whatever you may have been doing. We were quiet, just the two of us and Meg, but we did see the New Year in, watching the fireworks over The Thames and the less spectacular but still notable fireworks over Llangollen.
We’re in the basin at the head of navigation (for powered boats), having arrived on Saturday. It was quite hard work heading up here, the wind combined with the flow down from Horseshoe Falls made some of the shallow sections tricky. There were several boats about too, and we ran aground waiting for a day boat to sort himself out, and then again while retrieving a rubbish bag that had blown off the roof.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We woke on Friday to another couple of inches of snow.
Needing some groceries that were missed off the Tesco delivery the other day I trekked up to the Tesco in Cefn Mawr, the other side of the river.
From Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, looking down the snowy Dee valley.
The settlement of Cefn Mawr is well named, it translates from the Welsh as Big Ridge and it’s quite a steep pull up to the High Street, especially on icy pavements.
Cefn Mawr, and the neighbouring village of Cefn-bychan (Little Ridge) were heavily industrialised, with collieries, quarries and forges busy during the 18th and 19th centuries. The opening of the canal made shipping the mineral wealth of the area a lot easier after 1805, when the aqueduct was completed.
Looking up the Trevor Branch from Scotch Hall Bridge
This should have been the main line heading up and over the hills between Pontcysyllte and the River Mersey at Netherfield, had the original plan been followed. But costs escalated and the route was changed to what we enjoy today.
The end of the branch has two arms; the one to the right, east, is actually a stub of the Plas Kynaston Canal, built in 1820 to service the local industries but mostly buried under the Monsanto chemical works in the early 20th century. The works has now closed, and there’s a proposal to re-open the canal, with a marina at the terminus.
Plas Kynaston Canal in 1898
We had guests aboard for the trip up to Llangollen on Saturday, Val, Yen and Mike arrived at around 10:30 for coffee, then we set off across the aqueduct.
It was a bit blowy on the exposed crossing but I was hoping that as we turned to the west the hills would shelter us. But if anything the wind was worse at times, funneling down the valley.
We made use of the passing place on the first set of narrows just up from Sun Trevor, as the Thomas Telford, the Aqueduct Cruises boat, was coming the other way.
The second one-way length, taking the canal to the moorings above Llangollen, doesn’t have the luxury of a passing place, so Mike walked ahead to look out for oncoming boats.
Looking down on the town
Moored in the basin, it’s busier than we’ve ever seen it in the winter!
A couple of boats have left since we got here, aiming to get clear of New Marton Locks before they’re closed for maintenance tomorrow. One of those was Oleanna, with Pip and Mick aboard.
We’d had a chat earlier in the morning as they walked past while I was knocking up another satellite dish mount to replace the wind-damaged one.
So that’s it, all the excitement over for another year. We’ll be here for a few days before heading back towards Chirk. I’m going to be struggling to find things to write about for a bit, as we’re now confined to the stretch of canal between here and St Martins due to the stoppages. Seyella is being blacked at Anglo Welsh at Trevor Basin at Easter.
Locks 0, miles 5