Two Walks on the Wild Side

Published: Wednesday, 02 August 2017

I STARTED from Llangollen where the horse drawn trip boats were plying up and down to the horseshoe falls leaving plenty of manure on the tow path for the rose gardeners, writes Alan Tilbury.

Alan TrevorThe last time I was there by boat there was just a winding hole, now there is a marina!

Converted to a café

I continued to Trevor, although having been there by boat in the past I had never had a good look round. Being Saturday, Anglo Welsh were busy with change overs on their hire boats, now all painted green, though they were orange in my hiring days. There is a little boat converted to a café next to the dry dock just off the main line,

Alan canoeists AqueductA look at the aqueduct was a must although I have boated over it three times in the past. This time there were a group of canoeists coming across towards the basin, all very friendly greeting passers by, at least they were visible out in the open!

I walked to the end of the basin where I believe the canal used to continue to other places but now blocked off under a bridge, this seemed to be an ideal mooring for overnight visitors plus there is a boatyard that operates boat trips across the aqueduct.

Alan Chesterfield lockChesterfield Canal

Now into England heading to Staveley in Derbyshire where I was keen to see how the Chesterfield Canal restoration was progressing.

I came across the new town basin more by luck than judgement, situated in the middle of derelict land that once must have heaved with industry. Beyond the large basin is the new lock, dropping the canal down to a building site where a man operating a digger was busy applying puddle clay to the side of the new channel. Picture below.

I then went to Tapton Lock with it’s visitor centre, not my first time there but it wasn’t open on the previous visit. I had a hot drink whilst chatting to the two ladies working, who told me a six hour round boat trip was cancelled as there were no bookings, if only I could have got there earlier in the day!

Alan DiggerHollingwood Lock

They told me boat trips were running from Hollingwood Lock so I made a swift departure from Tapton as it was getting late into the afternoon and parked up at the Hollingwood Hub and rushed to the lock where the last trip of the day was ready to depart. They held the boat for me and two other visitors and we joined the two people already on board.

We then set off for the 45 minutes round trip that was to take us beyond the next lock, Dixon’s Lock, with the skipper chatting to us on the way leaving his assistant to steer the boat. Two of the passengers had never been on a canal before and were very interested in the workings of being afloat and negotiating locks. The other two were old hands at boating having hired previously as I had in the past.

Alan Dixons LockTwo ladies that had set the lock for us returned on the boat having chained and padlocked the gates. There was a group of young lads fishing by the lock, as often happens with children they were asking if they could come on the boat, but otherwise didn’t appear to be up to any mischief.

Wide cruising channel

There were a couple of fleeting glimpses of a kingfisher but flying far too fast to see in detail. The skipper, sorry but hopeless with names, told us that a weed cutting machine had recently been at work in the section of canal owned by Derbyshire County Council leaving a wide cruising channel.

Alan boat peopleHigh praise for the home made sausage rolls at Nona’s cafê made us peckish but alas the cafê was closed on our return.

I was greeted by Rod Auton of the Chesterfield Canal Trust on my return having been tipped off by Tom that I would be hoping to join one of the trip boats.

I gathered the crew together with the other visitors for a photo shoot and thanked them for the interesting cruise.