Tuesday 23 October 2012

A turn in the weather

Before Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - across the Aqueduct, turn around - St Martin's Moor : 8 miles, 0 locks, 2 lift bridges (same one twice!), 2 tunnels (same ones as yesterday), 4 aqueducts (Ponty twice)
Total to date : 52 miles, 23 locks, 8 lift bridges, 3 tunnels, 2 aqueducts

We decided last night that we wouldn't go all the way to Llangollen, we'd cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, wind in the little arm beyond it and come back again.  We now have a meeting lined up back at Ellesmere for Wednesday with Mick's half brother and his daughter Lindsay.

The traffic level on the canal had definitely picked up over the weekend.  The school holidays have started and there were hire boats everywhere.  Just on dusk yesterday a hire boat charged by quite fast with a blonde teenage boy by himself at the helm.  We could see mum and some more kids about the boat.  This morning just as I got out of the shower there was an almighty thud, the boat tilted alarmingly, and stuff fell off shelves and out of cupboards.  I thought someone must have hit us - hard!  I raced out to see Mick yelling out the cratch.  It was the same boat from the evening before but this time they were going even faster... so fast that we were pulled away from the canal edge and tossed back against it.  Mick said the kid very nearly plowed straight into us and in a panic tried to divert.  At the speed he was going I'm amazed he didn't hit us.  There were waves on the canal! 

This morning we woke to rain and it's pretty much drizzled the entire day.  We forged on regardless.  Yesterday crossing the Chirk Aqueduct it wasn't raining and the rain stopped for us again today.  But, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which was a daunting crossing, we had drizzle.  I stepped off the boat right at the start saying I'd walk across to take photos.  I very quickly wished I hadn't.  It was a long way... a very long way... to the other end.  I had done the same thing on the Chirk Aqueduct but it has wide concrete on both sides and somehow that felt better.  Half way across I was having trouble looking down and ended up making a rush for the end just staring at the concrete in front of my feet.  I had quite a wait at the other end before Mick and nb Parisien Star arrived.  He was looking rather tense!

On the return trip I sat in the cratch and felt a whole lot better.  The drizzle had eased so that made it a nicer trip, plus the current was now carrying us along rather than fighting us.  We enjoyed the return journey across.  Soon after we had the Chirk Tunnel, which was also much easier in this direction, and then the Chirk Aqueduct.  The engine is under noticeably less strain going with the current.

I've not felt the best today and by lunchtime I couldn't stop coughing.  We moored up before the New Marton Locks.  We'll tackle those in the morning.

Photos of today :
1. Cautiously approaching the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
2. Carefully check not to bump into that very narrow steel barrier
3. Goodness, it's a long way down
4. Still checking...
5. The building of the aqueduct
6. Aren't they a long way off
7. Amazing view of the river below
8. Look how narrow the edge is!
9. Lovely houses in the distance
10. Still concentrating on the way back
11. And I'm enjoying the view
12. Smiling onto the Chirk Aqueduct
13. A much less stressful trip - even if it's all in your mind
14. The railway viaduct running alongside is very pretty

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