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It’s half-term holiday week here in Wales, when all the schools are closed; for some reason this morning I recalled another half-term holiday a number of years ago and realised it was actually twenty years since friends and myself went on our first canal holiday together. It was to be a life-changing experience for two of them as canals were to become part of their life.

Link to this photograph on my flickr siteOur first holiday commenced at a base on the Llangollen Canal on a boat named Gotrik, but rather than travel west to Llangollen we went east and out onto the Shropshire Union Canal, a good decision as the majority of hire boats out that weekend were going in the opposite direction. As part of the Canal Experience we decided we’d write a diary, or Skipper’s Log as we called it and I have used this as a basis for this tale, which will probably be brought to you in a few episodes over the coming week. The first photograph shown here is of my friends, Jon, Lynne and young Richard just before we received our brief instructions on how to operate the boat, Jon had grown up with boats so was familiar with how things worked anyway.

Link to this photograph on my flickr siteBy the time we’d set off we only had about two hours of daylight left so proceeded as quickly as possible to find a decent mooring for the night. Very soon we encountered the experience of our first locks, and a staircase pair at that. I was obviously not very observant as I hadn’t realised the young lad in the boat in front of us hadn’t lowered his gate paddle fully and consequently the lock leaked water resulting in the boat bottoming in the lock, Oh dear, not a good start – and the offending lad had had the cheek to inform Richard he didn’t have the correct rhythm for winding paddles! This photograph is at Grindley Brook locks, but as I was so busy when we were descending I didn’t take any photos, this one was taken on our return.

Link to this photograph on my flickr site.We moored at Povey’s Lock for the night and when we woke the following morning it was to a frosty scene with a glorious sunrise. After doing all the necessary engine and fluid level checks it was time for a coffee and a quick feed of the ducks whilst I took a few atmospheric photographs of the tranquil scene. The sun wasn’t to last though and an hour or so later had given way to a misty gloom which persisted throughout the rest of our holiday. We weren’t bothered, at least it became very mild again and we were having fun!

Link to this photograph on my flickr siteLater that day we descended the four locks at Hurleston Junction where the Llangollen Canal meets the Shropshire Union Canal. There were a number of boats ascending the locks so progress was a little slow. Here we are descending Hurleston locks which are at the junction of the Llangollen Canal with the Shropshire Union. We were waiting for a boat to ascend which was rather slow as all the young kids on board wanted to help with the lock gates. We stopped for lunch at Nantwich and four hours later moored up for the night at the third lock on the Audlem flight; it was an early night for us all, we were shattered and Richard begged to go to bed – at 6.30!

~ to be continued ~