Grindley Brook to Stonely Green Bridge 10
The water gauge was showing half a tank this morning so just in case we ended up sitting around a while longer waiting for the bridge ahead to open we decided to visit ABC boat hire at Wrenbury Mill to top up. The forecast was for rain this morning, but it would stop between 11 and 12 midday, so when the rain had stopped for a while we pushed off and headed to the lift bridge. As I turned the key of power in the panel it started to drizzle, then rain, then drizzle, good job we’d put on our waterproofs. Four cars and a dog walker held up, Mick swung Oleanna into the gap between boats moored up at the Mill.
The hire base was busy, a delivery of new mattresses was being moved on board the boats. For the use of their tap we’d been quoted £3 but when it came to ringing it into the till it said £2, £2 well spent for peace of mind.
We reversed out managing not to leave any marks on the newly blacked hire boat we’d breasted up to, then we turned towards the last lift bridge of the Llangollen Canal. Once through we waved goodbye to Wrenbury. Our aim for today was a 48hr mooring just before the closed bridge, from here we’d hopefully be first through once it opened.
In places the water table was higher in the fields alongside the canal than it was in it. Plenty of rain had fallen overnight, today in parts you would need water wings to walk the towpath!
All three locks lay empty before us, but all the paddles are easy on this canal, so it didn’t take much effort to fill them for us to go down. As we waited for the final one to fill I could see a gang of high vis heading in our direction. Nine or ten chaps were walking the towpath heading towards the closed bridge. Could it be that they had had a lunch break and were heading back to carry on with repairs? If so then they certainly were throwing men at the job. Or could it be that this was the clear up team? The works were complete and they were here, mob handed to remove the pumps and damns. We pootled along behind them and pulled in to tie up.
It looked like the navigation was open, certainly no dam across the bridge hole. Just as we’d stopped Oleanna, and Mick had stepped off to tie up we were give a wave on by one of the chaps. It took a bit of effort to get Oleanna away from the side as the wind was pushing her in. We thanked the chaps as we passed, one saying that we were the first boat through. Another fella stood tapping something into his tablet as we passed, wonder if that was the Notice Update saying that the canal was now open, it popped into our inbox three minutes after we’d gone under the bridge.
The scaffolding supports of a dam sat on the extremely muddy towpath, the tarpaulin sat on the back deck of a work boat. A huge yellow pump and giant pipes filled another boat. As the Llangollen Canal feeds a reservoir that serves Crewe and Nantwich the flow cannot be turned off on the canal, it is really a bit of a river. So when a damn blocks the navigation the constant flowing water has to be taken around it. Quite glad we didn’t have a couple of days moored near the big pump going 24 hours a day.
Once through the bridge Oleanna proceeded to go aground, right next to the workboats! A good blast of reverse and one chap pulling on our centre line got us free and we slowly inched our way past them. As soon as we had cleared them boats were moved, blocking the bridge again so that they could get all the pipework back on board. We’d timed our arrival perfectly, even though we expected to have a two day wait.
Pushing on a short distance further, we pulled in just before Stoneley Locks and retired inside for a very late lunch. There is a ten hour cruise ahead of us to reach Chester, so we should be able to meet up with our friend Sue and have a drink with Bridget and Storm too. Perfect. Thank you C&RT.
3 locks, 3.73 miles, 2 lift bridges, 4 held up, £2 water charge, 1 quagmire, 10 yellow and orange clad chaps, 0 damn, 4 work boats, +15 lengths of giant pipe, 3 minutes before it opened, 2 days ahead, 4 seriously muddy paws, 1 chimney sweep tail.