Saturday 7 March

Up early to guarantee we got our favourite Saturday newspaper from the small village shop in Wrenbury and to get through the lift bridge before the traffic increased.

The skies were grey with a strong breeze and as we motored on the wind got even stronger but the sun came out and the gorse looked lovely in the sunshine.

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Over the Summer the Llangollen Canal is very busy with boats but we only saw a couple of boats on the move and didn’t need to queue for locks.

Max has settled back into canal life after his two weeks at home. He sits on the roof and can recognise when we will be stopping for a lock and will leap from the roof onto the towpath, long before we pull into the side.   Sometimes we gasp at the distance he leaps. So far he’s been lucky and made it to dry land everytime. He doesn’t need telling to get back on the boat afterwards either, unless he can see another lock ahead when he knows there’s a good chance he’ll get a walk to the next one.

The locks were all set in our favour until we got to Grindley Brook Staircase of three locks, when all the locks were empty. When going up in a staircase, all but the bottom lock need to be full. Having filled the two top locks we began our ascent but as we rose in the middle lock there was insufficient water for us to pass into the top lock because the bottom gates were leaking so much that we had to let more water through.

We made it safely through and moored up at the water point. The wind by this time was so strong that it took both of us on one rope to keep the boat against the towpath before we could tie up.   There was a single boater ahead of us also struggling to hang on to his boat in the wind and we ran to assist him.

It took half an hour to fill with water, after which we moved off and motored on another mile before mooring near the Whitchurch Arm. After lunch we walked into town.

Our canal guide describes it as “A fine town with some beautiful old houses of all periods in the centre. The streets are narrow and there is much to discover”.

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We visited St Alkmund’s Church as we were drawn to it by its unusually large windows and walked around the town admiring the architecture.

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We discovered two vanilla slices in the bakery which we took home and enjoyed with a cup of tea.

Whitchurch is well worth a visit.

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