Wednesday 4 April 2007

One Way to Llangollen - Egg Bridge to Wrenbury

4th April 2007
Egg Bridge to Wrenbury
Shropshire Union Canal (Chester Canal) and Llangollen Canal (Welsh Canal)

14 Miles
15 Locks
8 Hours

Another fine and sunny day as we passed through the flat and rather featureless area south of Egg Bridge. As you approach Hargrave you pass long lines of moored, mostly older and shorter than those found in the south. The whole stretch down to Chester has an "out of the way" feel to it and attracts a different kind of boater, ones more interested in tinkering with humble craft than owning an expensive recreation of a traditional working boat. In truth I have more interest in this eclectic huddle of craft that the formulaic 55ft trads which are the staples of most marinas.

We made steady progress till we reached the Bunbury staircase where a collection of workboats blocked all the conventional lock mooring bays. After some confusion about who was mooring and who was waiting, three boats approached the bottom staircase with the initial plan that a plastic craft would ascend with a steel narrowboat. It then turned out that they were afraid to share a lock which such a heavy craft so they started up alone. Next we entered the bottom chamber with the other narrowboat whose skipper freaked when he saw a boat entering the recently vacated top lock. I assured him that it would all work out via the infamous Bunbury shuffle but even as we exited he still seemed bemused that we had managed passed another boat in the flight! It's the four boat shuffle that can get really interesting.

From Bunbury its a short trip to Barbridge Junction and the entrance to Middlewich Branch, quickly followed by Hurleston Junction and the initial 4 lock flight onto the Llangollen Canal. I like Hurleston, it is spacious but remote and it heralds the prospect of a trip up this lovely waterway, a destination never fails to excite me. I think I have travelled this route at least six times but still I look forward to our return.
With evening upon us we pressed on through the Swanley and Baddiley Locks arriving at Wrenbury in the last glimmer of twilight. We passed under the electrically operated lift bridge and the ABC hire base, mooring up on the left and setting a good fire in the grate as we pad a visit to the Dusty Miller and enjoyed an excellent evening meal.

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