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Llangollen canal - Easter 2023


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Anyone any experience of how busy the Llangollen canal is over Easter? I'm expecting it to be busier than now (currently at Ellesmere) but wondering if it will be bedlam or not?

 

Reason for asking is we have a couple of friends coming for a weeks cruise and just trying to sort out where ...

 

TIA

Paul.

 

ETA for some odd reason I put the wrong year - sorry! now corrected

Edited by PCSB
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Which part?

 

In any case, I'd say it won't be "bedlam", neither would it be busy enough to detract from an enjoyable trip. I know you mention a week's cruise, the Llangollen can be done in about 4 days end-end, but its obviously more enjoyable if you stop and aren't just cruising all day every day. If you are starting from one of the hire firms near the Hurleston Jn end, ie Cheshire Cat Narrowboats or Anglo Welsh (Bunbury) then its easy. If its a little further eg Chas Hardern or Andersen boats, then you have a bit more to do but its still easily possible.

 

There's a number actually on the Llangollen itself but to "do" the entire length, you'd need to go to one end, turn, then go to the other end (or beyond), turn etc. I prefer the approach of starting at Hurleston and it building up to the obvious navigational structure as a kind of climax, instead of eg hiring from Trevor and doing it within the first 7 minutes. Or hiring at one of the marinas above Grindley Brook then only doing 2 locks before the aqueduct.

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  • PCSB changed the title to Llangollen canal - Easter 2023
19 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

Are they time travellers? 2019.

oops - full of man flu' ... now corrected

20 minutes ago, Stilllearning said:

2019?

look I was only 4 years out ... sorry, man flu' meant this year

8 minutes ago, Paul C said:

Which part?

 

In any case, I'd say it won't be "bedlam", neither would it be busy enough to detract from an enjoyable trip. I know you mention a week's cruise, the Llangollen can be done in about 4 days end-end, but its obviously more enjoyable if you stop and aren't just cruising all day every day. If you are starting from one of the hire firms near the Hurleston Jn end, ie Cheshire Cat Narrowboats or Anglo Welsh (Bunbury) then its easy. If its a little further eg Chas Hardern or Andersen boats, then you have a bit more to do but its still easily possible.

 

There's a number actually on the Llangollen itself but to "do" the entire length, you'd need to go to one end, turn, then go to the other end (or beyond), turn etc. I prefer the approach of starting at Hurleston and it building up to the obvious navigational structure as a kind of climax, instead of eg hiring from Trevor and doing it within the first 7 minutes. Or hiring at one of the marinas above Grindley Brook then only doing 2 locks before the aqueduct.

Thanks for your reply, we are on our own boat and friends will be joining us so we can start from anywhere. I was thinking Ellesmere to Llangollen section ...

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Which days you're at Llangollen probably matters more than the date. A lot of week hire boats are there midweek, so it's quieter at the weekend.

 

A walk up to the Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte is highly recommended. Best pub for food and drink (but not cheap) in Llangollen is probably the Corn Mill, but booking is advisable.

 

If timing works, the Willeymoor Lock Tavern is a good overnight stop, very friendly and decent pub grub and beer.

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5 minutes ago, IanD said:

Which days you're at Llangollen probably matters more than the date. A lot of week hire boats are there midweek, so it's quieter at the weekend.

 

A walk up to the Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte is highly recommended. Best pub for food and drink (but not cheap) in Llangollen is probably the Corn Mill, but booking is advisable.

 

If timing works, the Willeymoor Lock Tavern is a good overnight stop, very friendly and decent pub grub and beer.

An obvious rule of thumb on any popular canal  is to try to avoid school holidays, and especially the Llangollen because it is one of the most popular. We have cruised it a number of times over the years and using this principle we have never found overcrowding to be too much of a problem. We also tried to be at Llangollen at weekends as mentioned by IanD.

 

Howard

 

 

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I think its quite hard to accurately predict how busy a place will be- on one hand, the locks are re-opening at Hurleston and Grindley Brook in Feb, so there may be a good few owner-boaters who will have been waiting for that to get onto the canal

And I always imagine the Easter hols are going to be a busy time in most places, both for hire boats and private boats.

On the other hand, inflation and fuel prices will have squeezed many people's budgets this winter, so maybe fewer people will be willing to pay for a week on a boat. And some might feel that a forrin holiday or break is just better value than a boat. 

I spent April to October 2021 on the Llangollen, and my impression was that as the summer progressed, it seemed to get busier and busier as you got closer to Llangollen.

Around Whitchurch it was busy, but mainly 'passing' traffic, so to speak, and usually enough moorings.

By the time I got to Ellesmere it was noticeably busier, and from Chirk onwards it was very busy.  

If you're the type that can turn a blind eye to a bit of queueing and congestion at the pinch points, then go for it. 

Personally, I really don't like hanging around waiting to get onto the facilities point (as I had to do at Ellesmere), or queueing for an hour at the locks (as I had to do at New Marton -and I was near the front of the queue). So I tended to do those pretty early in the morning (although not 6am as Arthur does). 

The plus side is that all the hire boaters are in a good mood, so it all ends up good fun anyway and you meet plenty of people waiting at the locks, 

If your friends like peace and quiet, Whitchurch to Ellesmere and St Martins or Chirk is a nice run.

If they like it more lively and dont mind a little bit of congestion, head for Chirk and Llangollen. 

In fairness, I'm a single hander so I view things differently to a fully crewed boat- e.g. the narrow sections into Llangollen are a pain in the arse, because I cant send anyone ahead, so my strategy is to follow another boat that has a crew. 

 

 

Edited by Tony1
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5 hours ago, rusty69 said:

Are they time travellers? 2019.

If they are, then they should stay in 2019. Only two prime ministers to keep track of that year. They may hear something in the final month at the end of a news broadcast about a mysterious virus outbreak centred on a market in Wuhan in China. This is nothing to be concerned about.

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16 hours ago, Tony1 said:

or queueing for an hour at the locks (as I had to do at New Marton -and I was near the front of the queue).

Think our worst ever delay was coming down New Marton, took over three hours :( 

Combination of people waiting above the bridge not moving up, people lunching on the waterpoint, and something stuck under the towpath side bottom gate making it hard or impossible to shut by one person with lots just stood looking instead of mucking in.

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12 minutes ago, Hudds Lad said:

Think our worst ever delay was coming down New Marton, took over three hours :( 

Combination of people waiting above the bridge not moving up, people lunching on the waterpoint, and something stuck under the towpath side bottom gate making it hard or impossible to shut by one person with lots just stood looking instead of mucking in.

 

When I went down through there the second time it was late July, so pretty much peak season, but I was lazy and didn't get started till 9.30am.  

By the time I'd filled up with water it was getting on for 10.30am, and there were already a few boats waiting to go down, and a few coming up. 

It probably took almost an hour to get into the first lock, which at first was annoying.

As we all know, you can mostly avoid queues by arriving close by the locks the afternoon before, and setting off at 7am or earlier, as you see some of them doing- or going through later in the evening. 

But in truth, if I'd slipped through there in the earlier morning, I'd have missed out on some fun and interesting chats to hire boating families- whom I mostly found to be great folks. 

Same thing happened at Grindley Brook in early November. 

I thought I'd get a respectable start and set off at 9.30am, but it was a Sunday, so within 5 minutes there were 3 boats close behind me on the approach and another two coming down, with another boat hurriedly setting off in front of me as they saw me approaching.  

My first reaction was to curse at being caught in an 'instant' queue, but within a few minutes I got chatting to a few of the crew from the shareboat behind me. They were helping other boats in order to speed things up a bit, so I got help at most of the locks, and I had a good laugh with them all the way up. 

That said, in the summer hols I will always try to start before 8am if approaching any infamous choke points- but to be fair, I am overly paranoid about having to wait in queues.

 

 

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Its kind of a unique spot coming down. The towpath changes sides through the bridge which also obscures the view of what’s going on with the lock landing where only two or three can wait. Its the first locks for any hire boats out of Chirk marina, and combined with the water point and boats waiting to move up to the lock landing at peak times it gets very confusing to green boaters. Almost a perfect storm to create delays.

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3 hours ago, Hudds Lad said:

Think our worst ever delay was coming down New Marton, took over three hours :( 

Combination of people waiting above the bridge not moving up, people lunching on the waterpoint, and something stuck under the towpath side bottom gate making it hard or impossible to shut by one person with lots just stood looking instead of mucking in.

 

My worst delay was 5 hours at Grindley Brook. There was no lock keeper on duty and the boats just kept coming down the staircase rather than turning the staircase around and letting some boats up.

 

Since then I always overnight at the top or bottom (depending on direction of travel) and go through the staircase first thing in the morning before any queues have built up.

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1 minute ago, cuthound said:

 

My worst delay was 5 hours at Grindley Brook. There was no lock keeper on duty and the boats just kept coming down the staircase rather than turning the staircase around and letting some boats up.

 

Since then I always overnight at the top or bottom (depending on direction of travel) and go through the staircase first thing in the morning before any queues have built up.

 

There should be lockies there at Easter, when we went through last summer they seemed to know what they were doing and controlling the flow of boats properly. A couple of boaters got narked at having to wait instead of just piling in, but that's their problem -- IIRC they were doing five up/five down (or maybe three, or four...) and going up we were unlucky to arrive just after the last boat in the string, but we just accepted it and had a beer while we waited for an hour or so.

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21 hours ago, Hudds Lad said:

Think our worst ever delay was coming down New Marton, took over three hours :( 

Combination of people waiting above the bridge not moving up, people lunching on the waterpoint, and something stuck under the towpath side bottom gate making it hard or impossible to shut by one person with lots just stood looking instead of mucking in.

We had a bit of fun there a few days ago with debris clagging up the top gate. Took half an hour to clear before we could fully open the gates. Each time I removed a load of rubbish more would come down - the joys of the flow I guess :) I also had to remove a log that was jammed in the bridge by the water point, quite a raft of twigs and leaves were built up, that took another 15 minutes. All in all good fun though and kept me warm on a cold day.

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I've done the Llan in the middle of the school summer holidays.  There are a few pinch points:

 

1.  Grindley Brook.

2.  New Marton Locks.

3.  The little basin between Chirk Aqueduct and the tunnel.

4. Either side of the Pontycylkljktrrnjlllthtcylltee Aqueduct.

 

There are two approaches to each of these pinch points: 

 

1.  Turn up in the middle of the day and embrace the chaos.  It's fun!

2. Go through either very early or very late.  Generally the hour around dusk is quietest but you may then find fewer places to moor.

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5 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Generally the hour around dusk is quietest but you may then find fewer places to moor.

Nothing worse than trying to find a mooring in the dark on a popular canal.

 

One trip in baking sunshine we arrived at the Jack Mytton (days when it was still open obvs) in the afternoon and got a prime spot on the pub moorings. Had just got sat in the beer garden with a lovely cold pint when some of the crew suggested pushing on to the Poachers, i was against it but was overruled. Needless to say we ended up arriving there in the dark, moored on a sloping bank as it was all that was available, got into the pub just in time to be told the kitchen was shut :( 

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37 minutes ago, Hudds Lad said:

Nothing worse than trying to find a mooring in the dark on a popular canal.

 

One trip in baking sunshine we arrived at the Jack Mytton (days when it was still open obvs) in the afternoon and got a prime spot on the pub moorings. Had just got sat in the beer garden with a lovely cold pint when some of the crew suggested pushing on to the Poachers, i was against it but was overruled. Needless to say we ended up arriving there in the dark, moored on a sloping bank as it was all that was available, got into the pub just in time to be told the kitchen was shut :( 

Crikey, you've had a trouble free life then.

 

I can think of a few worse things.

 

On the Llangollen the worst you'll get is having a 5 minute walk to the pub.

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7 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Crikey, you've had a trouble free life then.

Obviously there are worse things, but we don’t come here to read things and make each other depressed do we?

I have the politics section blocked so can’t comment on that :D 

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On 23/01/2023 at 03:58, Hudds Lad said:

Nothing worse than trying to find a mooring in the dark on a popular canal.

 

One trip in baking sunshine we arrived at the Jack Mytton (days when it was still open obvs) in the afternoon and got a prime spot on the pub moorings. Had just got sat in the beer garden with a lovely cold pint when some of the crew suggested pushing on to the Poachers, i was against it but was overruled. Needless to say we ended up arriving there in the dark, moored on a sloping bank as it was all that was available, got into the pub just in time to be told the kitchen was shut :( 

Should have stayed at the Jack Mytton, excellent beer and food when we were there... 😉

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