Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day Five 7/1710, boat pick up day.

We, once again, woke up early.
Such is life with a three year old.
We let daughter have a morning at the playground at the hotel,
while Barbara and I walked to Chirk Castle.

We did not go in, but it was impressive from the outside and a nice morning walk.
We were to pick up our boat around 2:30, so after our walk we all had time to go shopping for food for our first couple of days.
By we I mean the three women went shopping for food stuff while I visited the local church.

After our shopping, we called our favorite cabbie and had him run us to the Chirk Marina where we would pick up our boat.

Several rows of rental canal boats, and even more privately owned boats,
ranging in size from about 30ft to 66ft were lined up in neat rows.
Which one would be ours?

We had a little while to wait for our boat once we arrived,
but were soon introduced to "Abbie". .
She, (isn't that what we are suppose to call boats), She? She was 66ft long,
one of the longest boats allowed on the canals (what were we thinking!) since the locks are only 70ft long.
She is just under 7ft wide because the narrowest locks are only 7ft wide.
She could sleep eight, had a shower and two heads and a nice galley (kitchen).

It took us a couple of hours to tour the boat and learn how to treat her right.
Then after a few hundred yards of on the water training we were left to fend for ourselves.
Luckily they don't go very fast, for we only had a mile or so to go before we came to our first tunnel, the Whitehouse tunnel.

Only a couple hundred yards long, but very narrow. "Don't forget to turn on your light!"

And not to far after that we go over the Chirk Aqueduct . . . .

70 feet above the valley floor, with a walk-way on one side and a big drop on the other, it seemed we
were boating in a rather large gutter.
You can see the train bridge just to the right in the photo.
As soon as you leave the Chirk aqueduct you make a left turn into the second tunnel,
which is almost 470 meters long.
The Canals were built starting in the mid 18th century and were at their peak during the industrial revolution of the 19th century. They connect England and Wales and were the transportation super highways of their time. The canals run flat and where a change in elevation is required they use a lock system. Horses were the first engines, with tow paths still following the canals and going through tunnels and under bridges, which you will see in some of our pictures.
We did no locks on this first day of our canal trip, but we did, just before the The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the second aqueduct we did that day, have to go under our first of many lift bridges. . .

Through out the day we all took turns at the till. . . here's Barbara taking her turn.

Our destination for the evening was going to be the Welsh town of LLangollen. .
Although most of the canal is wide enough for two boats to pass, there is a section just before LLangollen that is only one boat wide and about 500 meters long. We needed someone to scout ahead before we entered this section so we or another boat would not have to back up.

A beautiful town set in hills, Llangollen.
The railroad station and trains in town were the inspiration for Thomas the tank engine.
A very active town with many shops and parks and a kayak shop
and a good section of whitewater under the town bridge.
We arrived fairly late and did not tour the town much that evening knowing we would have time in the morning and again near the end of our trip.
Dinner was in a local pub called Bridge End Hotel.
One of the more well 'used' pubs we would visit, but the food and beer were still pretty good.

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