Saturday, 25 September 2010

September Cruise - Day 9

There was absolutely no need for us to make an early start today.  Even so, we set off at 8.30, on a fantastically sunny morning.  We were soon approaching the two New Marton locks; the first was in our favour, and a boat was just coming up the second.

Shortly after 10am, we were moored on the lock waiting area at Frankton.  I chatted to the relief lock keeper, David, who's been doing the job only since April.  He's worked for BW for years at the Ponty aqueduct, but until he was asked to cover for the full-time lockie at Frankton, had never ever seen a lock!

Three boats were due to go down onto the Montgomery Canal, but the other two hadn't arrived by the time we set off.  Four boats were coming up, and they were all waiting.  The lock opening hours are 12 noon to 2pm, but we got underway at 11.30, and were at the bottom of the four locks (two are a staircase) by midday.  We made a brief stop to dump the rubbish at the service point at the Weston branch, then continued down the shallow Graham Palmer Lock, before making a lunch stop at the Perry Aqueduct.

The Monty is beautiful, particularly on a lovely sunny day.  There are speed limits of 3mph above Aston Locks and 2mph below them.  We saw loads of butterflies and dragon flies, thousands of water boatmen, and big fish jumping out the water.  The water is shallow, and at times the channel is narrow; at one point, a winding hole looked like a much better prospect than the channel itself.  I was glad I had a map, so I knew I had to go under the bridge.

At the Aston Locks, the towpath was busy with people and families walking and cycling.  Two boys out with their grandmother helped at the top lock, and two girls with their father and grandfather assisted at the second.  Three of the four of them said they'd never before seen a lock being used.  There aren't many boats on this canal.  There are boats on permanent moorings at the bottom end of the canal, but we've seen very few visitors; in fact, assuming the two other expected boats followed us down Frankton Locks, we've calculated that there can be only nine visiting boats here tonight.  It's a complete contrast to the Llangollen, where there are boats everywhere (and, I suspect, has the highest proportion of hire boats anywhere on the system).

We continued to the end of the current navigation, winded, and returned to the service point at Maesbury Marsh to fill up with water.  There's good pressure at the tap, so it didn't take long.  Then, at about 4.30, we went through Bridge 79 and moored for the night. We went for a walk round the village and visited the Canal Central shop and cafe.  We plan to eat tonight at The Navigation Inn, beside Bridge 79.  The former canal company building, Sycamore House, is just beyond.  It's been a fantastic day's boating.

11 miles, 10 locks.  (93 miles, 58 locks)

1 comment:

Alf said...

I hope the "Navy" was ok, we often go there by car since finding it on the boat, allways good !