11th - 19th April 2021 (8 nights)
From: Stretford Marina Manchester (Bridgewater Canal)
To: Llangollen Basin (Llangollen Canal)
Via: Middlewich Branch &
Preston Brook Tunnel, Waters Meeting,
Anderton Boat lift,
Chirk: Tunnel, Aqueduct & Castle.
This trip forms the 2nd part of a requested cruise from Manchester to Llangollen. It's a trip of 94 miles and 30 locks (give or take). AS such, we're going to have some long cruising days – especially if we run into any hold ups on Grindley Brook Staircase and the like.
We're sure it'll be worth it AND at the end of it, NB Ellis will be positioned in a beautiful area we intend to explore for an extended period. Having fallen in love with the Llangollen, it's our intention to spend a summer season travelling along it – perhaps with the occasional trip back to Manchester or segway to Liverpool. The point is, the Llangollen (with it's World Heritage site of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct) is spectacular and whilst quite busy with hirers, is popular among canal enthusiasts around the world... hopefully, a trip on 'Ellis' is a less stressful way of experiencing it's beauty – FIRST HAND.
Anyway – our journey will commence from Stretford marina around 1.30 pm when our returning guest steps back on board . We'll head off along the Bridgewater canal and aim to spend our fist evening in Lymm.
Next morning, we'll aim for an early (ish) start and chug our way to Waters Meeting, through the Preston Brook Tunnel and on to Anderton – tying up for the night to facilitate a visit to the Stanley Arms and perhaps a nosey in the Anderton Boat Lift visitor centre before we depart the following morning.
Another reasonably long day follows onto Middlewich – where we'll turn right at Kings Lock and onto the Middlewich branch... perhaps stopping for the night at Church Minsal if we've made good enough progress.
The Llangollen canal will by now nearly be in reach and assuming no major hold ups present themselves, we'll turn left at Barbridge Junction on to the Shropshire Union mainline before joining the Llangollen branch at Hurleston Junction. Queues may have formed at the start of the canal so if that IS the case, we'll probably hunker down for the night not far after Hurleston Locks.
Now we're on the Llangollen itself, we'll feel the flow of water against us – 12 million Gallons each day make their way down from Horse-shoe falls to top up Hurleston reservoir. It can make for an interesting approach to locks as most of that water makes it's way down the by washes!
Once through Wrenbury, we continue our journey to Grindley Brook Staircase – queues often do form here so passage will depend on our arrival time. No matter, we can keep going after hire boaters stop if we have to as unlike hire boaters, IF we have to, we can travel in the dark.
With a bit of luck/good planning (expect both or neither ;-) ) we'll have time to stop a while and explore Whitchurch.
Ellesmere will be our next stopping point – mainly for provisions as there is a large supermarket RIGHT next to the canal at the end of the basin... chances are however, we'll have to moor on the mainline and walk up. Once we've topped up the store-cupboard, we'll continue on our journey, passing Frankton Junction (there isn't time on this journey to go down Montgomery branch) – it's a nice detour but has to be booked in advance.
Chirk will be our next port of call so to speak – it's well worth stopping to pay the Castle a visit (whilst the crew search out a local shop for supplies). After Chirk it's a relatively short journey on to Froncysyllte (no – we can't pronounce that either) where we can either tie up over night OR cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and hope for space in Trevor Basin...
Our final mornings chugging will take us up the last few miles of the Llangollen itself – now very narrow, quite often we'll have to send someone ahead with a walkie talkie to ensure no traffic is heading our way – it gets a bit congested but to be honest, it adds to the excitement/adventure and everyone tends to be good natured... even the skipper!
We'll take 'Ellis' into the basin to see if there is room to moor on the pontoons but if there isn't, we'll do a (very public) turn and then find a spot on the towpath under the trees instead. There should be time for our guest to explore the town before our final supper together and then depart after breakfast the following morning.