Departure dramas


Canal trip

Willeymoor, Whitchurch








Giant's Causeway




Clonmacnoise Monastery

Lough Tay

Back to Dublin


Canal Boat Trip:-

We caught a train at midday from Newcastle to Wrenbury in Cheshire to start our canal boat trip. The trains were fairly high speed and if we hadn’t told the guard that we were getting off in Wrenbury, I'm told it wouldn’t have stopped. The final train leg from Crewe was in a one-carriage high-speed train.

It  was a long walk to the canal boats in Wrenbury from the train station, after a local who gave us directions failed to tell us we were in for a long walk. He said just turn right at the T junction and you’ll find the canal boats. We started to wonder if we had heard him properly, as it turned out to be a long way walking with the bags we had.

That same afternoon, we started our canal trip. Before we started out on it, a staff member from the canal hire group gave us a talk on how to operate the boat. He made it sound like you needed a PhD to operate it. As it turned out that, luckily, you didn’t actually need a PhD and there were enough of us on the boat to work out fairly quickly on how to operate it.

right:  a canal boat similar to our  eight-berth boat.

We went through three locks on Saturday arvo before we moored near a small English pub, the Willeymoor Lock Tavern (painting at left).

After doing thee locks, we were reasonably confident in handling the locks ahead of us.

That night, the woman behind the bar looked unfriendly, maybe she didn’t want a bar full of Australians (although well-behaved ones) as she recognised our Aussie accent very quickly like most other locals did as well.


Anyway, one in our group, Max, who is very funny (as in humorous), decided to work on getting her to relax and laugh. He was successful and she was sad to see us go in the end. I don’t think she’ll forget Max in a hurry..

Next morning we headed off fairly early knowing that there were (I think) nine locks ahead of us for the day.

After having done a series of them in one spot, we stopped for lunch at Whitchurch (right).

After picking up grocery supplies with a long walk into the town’s Tesco store, some of us took a taxi back to the boat and some, including me, walked back, but got lost for a while.

All was good and we then headed off again to find our way to the town of Ellesmere, coming across a couple of more locks on the way. As we canal’d the countryside, I saw so many sheep I was thinking maybe I was in NZ!

Although it was getting dark when we arrived, we set out to see the sights of Ellesmere before settling into a pub for tea. Some of us then headed back to the boat, while the rest kicked on until stumps.

Same plan the next morning:: Work out where to stop for lunch, this time being the Jack Mytton Inn (right). It was a fair distance for a morning’s travel and we arrived there just before noon opening time.

I was getting the feeling that no matter what I ordered, there would be the usual complimentary hot chips on the plate. (The classic example of this came later on in my travels when I ordered pasta. I didn't think hot chips would come with this, but they were consistent. The chips were sitting there on the plate right next to the pasta).

After lunch we made for Chirk. The town was a reasonable size, although we didn’t see too much of it this time as we arrived late in the day.

We went to the Bridge Inn for tea where they had trivial pursuit going on that night. The questions were in the entertainment category for young people in that part of the world. So we came second last. There were no sporting or history/ geography questions at all. (In another trivial pursuit completion later on in the trip, where there were sporting questions, we scored on just about every sporting question asked). Chirk incidentally, like much of the canal boat route, is on the English/Wales border, with Chirk being mainly on the Welsh side.

We were told by the locals that the canals are in most areas of England and Wales and are nearly all linked to each other

By this time, we discovered that boat and tunnel collisions were the norm as it is hard to change course significantly in a relatively short distance, making some of the collisions inevitable and there were a few big jolts. The boats are fairly solidly built and would’ve been built with this in mind. We were even bogged down a couple of times in the shallower parts of the canal.

We also discovered by then that you could at least walk just as fast as the boat was travelling , and there were normally suitable walking paths on both sides of the canal. With this in mind, and also to get some exercise, Jock (who after this, was going to walk with his wife Sue part of the St James walk in France and Spain  - the Camino de Santiago) thought that he should do some training, and most days walked the last five kilometres or so into town. On most occasions some of us, myself included, joined him, and we usually ended up in town at days end, ahead of the boat

Next: Some spectacular sights