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GC Mike

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  1. I'm aware somebody else has been seeking advice about the Four Counties Ring here - but wonder if I too can take advantage of the knowledge I'm sure is out there? Just after Easter next year I'm planning to do the Four Counties Ring in a week. Eight of us will be hiring a boat from Napton Narrowboats at Autherley Junction. As a group we've done a similar length trip in a week three times before, so I'm confident we can do the hours and cover the distance - but would really appreciate advice about two things. Firstly - which way round to do the ring? My instinct is to do the interesting bits early on, which might suggest going anti-clockwise, but I'm quite willing to be told the other way works better. Secondly - pubs and/or other interesting places to include or avoid. We won't have lots of time for sightseeing - but as we tend to start before breakfast we will have time to look at places of interest close by the canal. This year we cruised the Llangollen and part of the Shroppie - and I got some brilliant advice from this forum about which pubs to stop at and which ones to avoid. Any help on this greatly received.
  2. Lots of excellent comments have been made already, including those suggesting some sort of buy-in by interested people. The comparison with heritage railways is a good one. To answer your original question - which boats to keep and which not - is very difficult. I saw a couple of them on the Shroppie earlier this year, but both looked very run down. The website gives no help - it's looking old fashioned and there are no clear pictures to look at. And yet - having fallen in love with a Lister JP3 and trad controls during a training weekend on an old working boat last October, I'd be a regular customer of any company that could hire me a trad boat which gave the rest of my family the modern conveniencies they've got used to in the best quality hire boats. Why don't you start by thinking about what you want to end up with, and then keep the boats which can be made to fit the requirements. For me - I'd love the tug- style because it's different, so Larch needs to stay. I'm guessing your clientelle for these boats would be people who are already enthusiasts, so don't worry about keeping a short one for beginners - keep the boats that are large enough to offer top quality spacious accommodation. I'm sure you're more than capable of designing good quality interiors - but four things would be top of my list - a fixed double bed, a dining table you can walk past when it's in use, plenty of charging sockets for phones, cameras and ipods, and ... on a heritage boat - the trad controls are essential. Several people have already mentioned promoting your heritage boats, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd beat a path to your door for a smart well-maintained heritage boat. But I wonder how many people know about them? How about a Facebook page? Easy and free to set up, you could upload pictures of the refurbished boats and post up news about how work on other boats were going. Anybody who 'liked' the page would see on their wall whenever you posted something new - and you could promote the Facebook page on the website and in any adverts. Have a look at the Facebook page for the Talyllyn Railway if you want to see how it works - a brilliant AND FREE way to keep interested people up to date with what's going on.
  3. Interesting. I've also done a tailored plan using the same CanalPlanAC website. I presume you've realised we're not aiming to travel quite the full length of the Llangollen - only to Trevor to see the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct before winding and heading for Chester. I used the same terms as our trip last year - four hours the first afternoon (Saturday), then 6 full days (Sunday-Friday inclusive) and an hour on the last (Saturday) morning. The result I got was 7 hours 52 minutes per day. The total trip - 113.79 miles and 70 locks, I thought was somewhat less ambitious than the 115.55 miles with 121 locks we achieved last year doing the Warwick Ring via King's Norton Junction and with a trip up the Coventry Arm.
  4. I'm seeking advice about a week cruising on the Llangollen and Shropshire Union Canals starting on 7th April next year. A group of us have arranged to hire a 70' boat from Chirk Marina, and plan to do a brief visit to Trevor (to cross THE aqueduct) and then spend the rest of the week cruising to Chester and back. Last year the same group of us did the long version of the Warwick Ring, with a brief visit to Coventry, in a week. This year's trip is apparently much shorter and has many fewer locks - so in theory should be no problem. But there's a few things which are 'unknowns'. I've read about the 'flow' in the Llangollen which seems to have caused some problems of steering in tunnels and of by-wash below locks. I've also heard tales of queuing for locks - especially the Grindley Brook staircase. Do I need to worry about these? In addition, seeing as we hope to spend a little less time 'on the move' - suggestions about places to stop, and pubs in which to eat, along the way would be most welcome.
  5. WOW - what an amazing discussion. I'm not a hugely experienced skipper, but managed a week with a 70' boat last Easter without either hitting anything or being shouted at. We made good progress up the K&A and back, but did it by dint of efficient handling of locks and swing bridges rather than cruising speed. Not so difficult when your crew numbers 7 enthusiastic people and two bicycles. Much of the time we motored along at only a little over tickover (probably 3mph?) largely because I had some hope of keeping the boat going where I wanted at that speed. There was only one occasion when we were followed for any distance - the boat behind was clearly travelling quicker than us until he caught up, but then maintained our speed at a distance of 2-3 boat lengths behind. This is the problem that was outlined at the start of the thread, and I'm still not sure anyone's answered it. Did that boat want to overtake? It certainly crossed my mind he might want to, and I looked for some sort of indication from him - but he gave none that I could see. I sincerely hope that if any of you find yourselves behind me next Easter on the Warwickshire Ring (I shall once again be on a 70' hired boat with a big crew) you find a way of letting me know what you want before you decide to ram my stern or wave your anchor around my ears.
  6. Thanks to everybody for the advice - I've thoroughly enjoyed reading what everyone's got to say. The trip is starting to crystalise a little now. Looks like we shall be doing the trip in the school easter holidays next year - so mid-april, which is the same time of year we did the K&A. Another member of the party fancies the Warwickshire Ring - and some of you above have said it's got a bit of everything. I've seen Gas Street Basin in Birmingham - I was on a work-related training course for a week very close by a couple of years back and walked along the canal on several evenings. Also enjoyed a beer outside a pub down there but can't remember what it was called. Small and full of character I seem to remember. So the next question is - what advice for doing the Warwickshire Ring? Somewhere like Napton would be closest for us all to get to to hire the boat; and instinct tells me to try and get the hardest work out of the way earlier rather than leaving it until later in the cruise. So which way round would be better? Again - any advice gratefully received. Mike
  7. I've just found and joined this forum - and seen a suggestion that people start threads and ask for advice - so here goes! In April this year wife, daughter (13 yo) and I, along with two other couples hired a boat from Bradford on Avon and had a fantastic week on the K & A. Thoroughly enjoyed the Caen Flight on our second day, and found we enjoyed the actual mechanics of working the canal and the boat more than anything else. We negotiated an extra day of hire, and in our 8 days we cruised east to Hungerford, then back past the boatyard to Dundas before returning with big smiles all round. Now - as the summer is over we're beginning to plan our next trip - and that's where the advice is needed. We want to spend a week cruising through interesting and varied surroundings, with enough locks and swing bridges et al to stop us getting too bored, although we don't need them full-on everyday. I quite fancied a ring so we had new scenery every day - but I've seen people here saying it adds stress if you get behind with the schedule. In some ways the Four Counties appeals because I've got a son at Stafford Uni and a father near Stone, both of whom could be invited to join us all for a day. At the moment I feel overwhelmed with my lack of knowledge of the options, and am a long way way from the area to go and look at it! Any advice gratefully received. Mike
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