Go to Allan's Page Part 2: To the North-West then the East Canals Home Page Part 3: To Northampton for a Festival Go to Deb's Page
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An Award-winning tour in 2015

Part 1: Gloucester and Llangollen

 

sunset

Soon after we set off, a glorious sunset promised us good weather

 

This year's travels got off to a very difficult start with multiple breakdowns (one every 3 days on average), a collision which destroyed our starboard bow, and the death of our dog Telford. Instead of writing an account of our whole voyage with all its problems, which would read like a gloomy travelogue, for this first part I am simply going to introduce some photos of places that we visited.

One of our first destinations was Gloucester, the city where Debbie was born. We love Gloucester and try to return there at least once every year; and this year once again we had a very enjoyable time. We spent a couple of days strolling around the city itself, we had a wonderful meal at the Tall Ship pub, and we pottered along to Sharpness to spend a most enjoyable evening in the Dockers Club .

 

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The architecture of Gloucester cathedral is absolutely spectacular, and  the impressive tower looks down on the city's buildings as if it is standing guard over them
When the top fell off this spire, it was deemed unsafe to replace it, so it was re-erected on the ground where it fell
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We followed the "Elgar" trip boat along the canal. It needs this massive bridge to be swung
This is the modern way to work on a tall mast!
We watched an impressively quick toy boat in the docks
The docks are beautiful by day ...
... and also by night

The stretch of river known as 'The Partings'  which is just below Gloucester Lock is not normally tidal, but at spring tides the incoming waters often over-top the weir to cause a tidal flow. When this happens it is unsafe for a boat to navigate the Partings, not only because of the dangerous currents but also because of the quantity of debris which gets washed back upstream from the weir. Sitting on the river bank I watched enthralled as the water level below the lock rose by about 5 feet in half an hour and filled up with floating tree-trunks and assorted domestic rubbish including a washing machine and two refrigerators!

 

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The signs warn you that these are unusual waters
The river here is normally non-tidal and looks like this ...
... but half an hour later the tide has risen dramatically and also filled the river with debris

The next day we moored at the isolated Yew Tree Inn which is a few miles before Tewkesbury; where we were made most welcome as usual. It was fascinating to be tied up on their floating pontoon mooring when the Spring Tide reached us and lifted us suddenly by 3 feet. We spent a few days at Worcester.

 

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A misty morning at Worcester
This family had an unusual way of taking their dog for a walk
An impressive hawk at Worcester Cathedral ...
... and some impressive old bells

Travelling Northwards up the Shroppie we were extremely pleased at the improved standard of vegetation management compared with last year; in fact this was a feature of many canals that we travelled this year, so well done to CRT on this!

 

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The cuttings on the Shroppie were much easier to navigate thanks to some good vegetation management by CRT
Raptors circled gracefully overhead as we headed up the canal

Rather than travelling the busy Llangollen Canal over the Bank Holiday we decided first to divert along the Middlewich Branch and visit our favourite Indian Restaurant for a wonderful meal, before heading up to Llangollen the following week.

 

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The Middlewich Branch has wonderful views across the River Weaver and its Flashes
These old boat-horse stables near Middlewich have been tastefully converted into a modern house
By contrast this house nearby has kept its quirky original styling
You always know where you are in Ellesmere
The scenery approaching Llangollen is so spectacular

At Llangollen we stayed, as usual, in the Marina for a couple of days. This gave us the opportunity to visit Plas Newydd house which is just outside the town. The two "Ladies of Llangollen" who owned the house from 1780-1829 transformed it from a humble farmhouse to the magnificent Gothic fantasy which still stands today, and were steadily visited by the cream of Regency society. Their love of woodcarving shows in the way that absolutely every piece of woodwork, both inside and out, is ornately and beautifully carved. The grounds too are absolutely beautiful, with the floor of the little valley carpeted in bluebells and wild garlic, and in all it was an absolutely excellent way to spend the afternoon. Unfortunately you aren't allowed to take photographs inside the house so you will have to visit it yourselves to see how beautiful it is!

 

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Approaching Plas Newydd
The impressive front view of the house
The grounds are peaceful and beautiful; a pretty little river runs through a shady valley full of wild garlic and ancient trees with gnarled old roots

We returned to Stourport for a week of repairs at a specialist boatyard Sirius Marine. Sadly it was during that week that our beloved little dog Telford had the last of a short series of strokes. The next morning as we turned to leave Stourport a beautiful rainbow suddenly appeared over the main River bridge; we took this as a sign that he had reached his destination, the Rainbow Bridge, where he had been re-united with his guide and mentor Molly who had died in 2014.  I would have liked to capture the moment on camera, but I must confess that instead my eyes filled with tears and it was all I could do to steer the boat instead.

While we were at Stourport I was able to spend several hours watching one of my favourite birds, a kingfisher, who was fishing from the branch of a tree on the far side of the river. It was far enough away that my little camera really struggled take any good photos of this beautiful bird, but at least it made a good attempt!

 

kingfisher

 

And so we eventually left Stourport and headed Northwards ...

 

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Go to Allan's Page Part 2: To the North-West then the East Canals Home Page Part 3: To Northampton for a Festival Go to Deb's Page

 

All pictures on this site are Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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