Stoneley Green Bridge, Llangollen to Beeston Stone Lock, Shropshire Union
No dashing away, but no dillydallying either this morning, we had a proper days cruise ahead of us. Plenty of layers on to keep warm. Swanley Lock 1 was just ahead and we soon made it down the two locks and wound our way back towards Hurleston.
At Bridge 4 Mick was a spoil sport and wouldn’t let us moor. The signs to Snugburys made me plead with him. A third visit would mean a much more considered choice of chilled medication, but he wasn’t having anything of it! On the moorings NB Higgler sat waiting for it’s crew of Old English Sheep Dog and Corgies, bet they’d been allowed medication! This was really the first boat through the bridge yesterday, before it was officially opened. They had passed us at Wrenbury on Saturday and must have been waiting for the dam to be removed and waved on.
Traffic cones stood on ether side of the top lock at Hurleston. Two chaps then walked across the lock wheeling wheelbarrows! It looks like the lock cottage will be having an extension this year and two chaps were busy with the ground works, everything having to be carried across the lock. They lifted their walkway to let us into the lock and put it back again as soon as Mick was out of the way. So far they’d had to move it only three times, but they certainly weren’t looking forward to the start of the boating season, I suspect it could add a month to the build schedule.
New ladders were evident at the second lock, not having had chance to get discoloured yet. The last lock, the narrow one, we took slowly, only lifting one paddle to empty the water, keeping an eye on Oleanna descending, not wanting to get stuck. There were signs of the investigation works that were carried out in November to see if a total rebuild is needed.
Then with the bottom gates open, that was our time on the Llangollen over. We’d headed up the locks on the 17th November and have enjoyed our last two months immensely, but we are looking forward to being in a big city soon.
Mick turned Oleanna left at the junction and waited for me to cross over the bridge and join him. We were now back on the Shropshire Union Main Line, it suddenly got busy! We’ve got so used to only seeing one boat moving a day that all of a sudden it felt like we were on the M25! The first bridge hole and there was a boat coming towards us. Blimey where had all the traffic come from? Well three boats.
Being back on the Shroppie I made sure my camera was handy for all those kingfishers. Not long to wait as one flashed it’s blue back at us just before Barbridge and then obliged by sitting in a tree as we passed.
A brief pause for lunch before the junction and then we topped up the water tank and dealt with rubbish at Calveley.
Arriving at Bunbury we were a bit disappointed that we’d not be able to do the shuffle, no other moving boats in sight. This is our first wide lock since we came down from Wigan last year (that’s if you don’t count Big Lock in Middlewich). So much water, so much space, huge and heavy! Quite a shock to the system really. Bunbury is a staircase of two wide chambers, so you can fit two boats in at once. Should a single boat want to be going in the opposite direction they can enter the other chamber, the water is then moved from top to bottom, the central gates opened, then the Bunbury Shuffle can take place. One of the two boats moves into the gap in the other chamber, the single boat then moves into the new gap, the third boat into the next new gap. Gates closed and boats carry on up and down at the same time.
Another lock was worth doing today and as we approached Tilstone Lock we could see a boat that we thought was waiting, we could share! But no they were moored up. However at the lock there was activity, a boat was coming up. Such a busy world! I recognised it as a Carefree Cruising share boat and chatted to the lady. It was only their second week out and they were loving it, apart from the tent that they’d picked up around their prop yesterday which meant they didn’t have long to explore Chester.
We pootled along the wide canal, it felt like a river after being on the Llangollen for so long. Above Beeston Stone Lock we took advantage of the 48hr moorings and pulled in for the day, letting Tilly have the last hour of daylight to stare at the little twitches coming from the ivy clad hedge next to us and to practice her pouncing.
We’ve been this way twice before back in our share boat days, so somethings we’d forgotten about. The lovely little pepper pot buildings at the locks, the wideness of the cut, however we had remembered the total lack of phone, internet or TV signal by Stone Lock. Oh well that’s more we’ll have to catch up with on the internet, hope EE reset out allowance early again!
9 locks, 8 miles (rounded up), 1 left, 1 straight on, 1 tasty looking robin, 1 stunning sunrise, 10 minutes that’s all, 0 chilled medication, 1 big meanie Mick, 1 kingfisher, 5 moving boats so busy, 0 boats to shuffle with, 1 mooring close to road and rail, 0 signal of any sort! 0 map.