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Great narrowboat cruising on the Llangollen Canal from Venetian Marina

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Fri Apr 15, 2016 at 11:35am

Venetian Marina Nantwich to Llangollen

The Llangollen Canal is known as one of the most beautiful and picturesque canals on the network and it's only a 30 minute cruise from Venetian Marina to the Hurleston Junction and the start of the Llangollen Canal. This canal boasts superb views of the countryside as well as the world famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which carries the canal over the River Dee. Standing over 125 feet high the World Heritage site draws crowds from all over the world.

From Hurleston Junction and it's staircase locks it's about 45miles to Llangollen. This canal can take a 72ft in length narrowboat with a max beam of 6'10''. It's also worth noting that Hurleston Lock flight can be tight, so it's always worth making sure all of your fenders are up before hand. Water is fed to the Llangollen Canal by the River Dee at Llantysilio, so there is a noticeable flow of water from west to east. The flow can sometimes be particulary strong and may at times slow your journey.

Let's start our journey:

After climbing the four narrow and sometimes busy stair case locks at Hurleston junction, you've left the Shropshire Union Canal behind and are now at the start of the Llangollen branch. The canal winds through pretty farmland and into the remote countryside.

Your first stop is Wrelynbury Village where there is a local well stocked post office/shop only a 5min walk from the canal moorings. The first push button operated swing bridge gets busy, especially as it's located on a bend and next to a busy hire boat yard and two popular canal side pubs. On my approach I had to pass moored boats on either side before I could find a safe place to off load my crew so they could operate the locks. (To operate this lock you'll need a BW key.) The boat yard has several hire boats moored and on busy days like a Saturday you may have to hang back if they are coming out of the wharf. Timing is everything at this swing bridge as it also offers a passage for motorists, so if you don't get your timing quite right you can leave motorists waiting while you pass.

Once through the bridge there are several canal moorings available. This is where we stopped while we ventured to the very popular and beautifully restored warehouse pub, Dusty Miller. The pub boasts a superb beer garden which over looks the swing bridge and is very popular in the summer months. Across the road is our second most popular pub, Cotton Arms. Both pubs allow you in with dogs which is great for boaters.

Leaving Wenbury and carrying on into the countryside you'll have four more locks all staggered before you reach Grindley Brook. A very popular stopping point for boaters as there are plenty of moorings on offer, water points, canal side Cafe/shop and BW toilet/shower block. You will find moorings before and after the 6 locks, but keep in mind that the water points are at the top, so if you're low keep going until you're through. These locks normally have a lock keeper as the flight gets very busy in peak periods and are on a very sharp bend making vision very difficult. It's always good practice to hold back and send a member of your crew ahead before you commit to the bend and start the climb. Once at the top we stopped for water and then moved forward onto the moorings, if you're unsure which are which just read the signs around you. Note you'll need a BW key to operate the toilets and shower block. The local pub here is not as obvious to find, walk back down to the 1st/2nd locks and take the gulley way to the garage forecourt, cross the main road to the Horse & Jockey pub. Again dogs are welcome and you'll find great food and local ales on tap. If you're a dog fan keep your eyes peeled for Blaze, a beautiful large chocolate lab who is always found strolling around the pub and loves a good fuss.

The canal approaches Whitchurch as you leave Grindley Brook behind, a lift bridge marks the entrance to the Whitchucrh Arm. You can moor here and take the approximate 1/2 a mile walk to visit the town centre. After passing your second swing bridge the canal once again enters quiet and pretty countryside. Soon the open countryside gives way to hilly wooded landscape that lies to the east of Ellesmere and contains several beautiful meres. The canal then enters a 87 yard tunnel before it emerges into open parkland and a short cruise onwards to the Ellesmere Arm. This again can be a very popular and busy stopping point as there is a very large new Tesco right next to the arm and this is your last chance to stock up on essentials before you reach Llangollen itself. With a bit of planning and good timing we were able to moor right on the arm and only a 2 minute walk into the town. The moorings are only available on one side of the arm as it's very narrow. If you struggle to moor in the arm don't panic there is a turning point at the top so just take your time. Note the fine old warehouse and the small canal side crane at the top of the arm which marks the canal side trading. .

After Ellesmere, the canal continues once again through gentle countryside with lots of open fields with cows and sheep. We continued cruising and arrived at Welsh Frankton Junction where the canal meet the junction for the Montgomery Canal which once upon a time went all the way to Welshpool and Newton. You can only navigate a short way on the canal now, here you arrive at a series of locks which start the decent. Now returning to the Llangollen Canal, we pass through two locks at New Marton, these are the last locks before reaching Llangollen. We can now see the beautifull Welsh hills approaching and getting larger. As we cruise along we pass by the Wat's Dyke and Henlle Park.

Continuing with our journey we now see the little town of Chirk in the distance and the faint sounds of traffic on the nearby A5 fill our ears. The quaint town of Chrik is at the edge of the mountains and the canal cut into the side of the hill called Chirk Bank. We soon arrive at Chirk Aquaduct which is a very impressive structure made of brick and stone pillars. This structure has been here carrying the canal water since 1801, the railway viaduct runs along side which is the main line to Holly Head.

Crossing the aqueduct we arrive in Wales and we soon enter the Chirk Tunnel which is very narrow and I suspect can create a bottleneck in the summer. No sooner have we exited the tunnel we are soon entering another at Whitehouse. Just a few hundred meters on we start to approach what is perhaps the greatest feat of engineering on the entire canal network, it is of course the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Wow what a fantastic structure designed by Thomas Telford.  This takes us over the River Dee which is 120 feet below. It was not an anti-climax upon leaving this magnificent structure behind us as we travel past Ruabon and Trevor up towards the town of Llangollen. The canal starts to become narrow and care needs to be taken on the short distance into the town.

We can vouch for the fact that all your efforts will be worthwhile, and you will enjoy your journey on the Llangollen Canal. It could possibly be the best cruise you will ever undertake!!

Note. Photographs credits are:

Eirin Evans/Akke/Grahamec

show with kind courtesy.

For further information see: Creative Commons

 

 

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2 Comments

Lynda McKenzie | Wed Jun 21, 2017 at 11:39pm
We are doing this trip for 11 days from Middlewich in July. I'm so happy to have found your blog. It answered a lot of my queries and allayed my fears that dogs wouldn't be allowed in the pubs!Great advice which we will follow, about scouting ahead, where to get supplies etc.Can't wait to go and feel more confident about my planning now, thanks to you!
Venetian Marina | Thu Jun 22, 2017 at 9:30am
Dear Lynda.Great to hear you enjoyed reading our BLOG, have a great time.

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