Across the Stream in the Sky

Until the Captain had decided for us, we’d originally planned to overnight in Froncysyllte (or Fron as it is popularly known). Having failed to do that, we’d toyed with the idea of walking down and visiting the well know Aqueduct Inn for some evening refreshment, but in the end decided not to. Shortly after setting off again on a gloomy Thursday morning, it was clear that the pub had been painted a particularly lurid yellow colour that would doubtless have hurt the eyes on a sunny evening!

FroncysyllteFroncysyllte

It was also clear that there was quite a queue to cross Pontcysyllte Aqueduct but we snuck on the end of a convoy without too much trouble. Apart from the name (a tautology,  as Pontcysyllte pretty much means Cysyllte Bridge), this amazing construction is rightly a world heritage site. We’ve crossed it numerous times over the years, and it’s always a thrill, whatever the weather, and no matter how busy. And if you want an interesting exercise, and have mastered the spelling of Pontcysyllte, try and find two people who agree on the pronunciation…

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Heading upstream against the flow is slow going, and there’s little to stop the driver, invariably on the left, from getting a nasty dose of vertigo: there’s no Elf ‘n Safety stuff at all. Also it’s a bit like steering through a narrow tunnel that’s lost its roof: just as difficult.

Pontcysyllte AqueductPontcysyllte Aqueduct

If you don’t suffer, it’s a good place to watch the local footy team, but the Chief Cook was steering and determined not to look down.

Pontcysyllte AqueductHead Gardner not looking down

Across the other side is Trevor Basin: always a busy nightmare as there’s a narrowboat and day-boat hire base, someone running horse drawn tourist cruises, the hire boaters not going on to Llangollen trying to turn round and go back again, loads of gongoozlers etc. etc. And a very tight turn under a narrow bridge onto the Llangollen arm that most hire boaters take several crashes to negotiate.

Originally just a water feeder, the navigable channel from Trevor to Llangollen is very narrow and shallow with a consequently strong flow, and contours along the side of the spectacular Dee Valley. There are several sections where only one boat can pass, and you can’t see the far end from the start, so the wise boater sends an advance party off on foot with some kind of mobile communication. The unwise can end up reversing a long way…

Llangollen BasinLlangollen Basin

Getting through the final narrow stretch high above the town, there’s a pleasant basin surrounded by the mountains to moor up in, completed with electrics, and tying up there gives quite a sense of achievement. It’s five minutes downhill to the town, and the basin overlooks the Eisteddfod festival site (that’s the permanent marquee in the first picture).

With Song & Dance put to bed, and wired up (good for the batteries), it was time for an afternoon snack…

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