Water is a precious commodity on a canal boat. You are given strict instructions to refill every day. So it’s easy to understand why Trevor decided not to have a shower first thing this morning (unlike the rest of us). He was doing his bit for conservation, and besides he’d planned to have a wash later on before we ate out (which was to be our reward for a hard day’s boating).
Unfortunately it was a swelteringly hot day day, and so some of the crew thought Trevor’s idea, whilst admirable, was perhaps not very sensible. And even a little stinky.
Either way, Trevor’s lack of showering didn’t impact his driving skills, he successfully navigated through some tight spots as we headed backward down the canal, towards today’s destination. He even got a high five from one enthusiastic narrow boater after a particularly tricky manoeuvre.
Our journey today took us on to a different canal. Goodbye Llangollen, hello Montgomery.
The Monty (as the locals call it) was abandoned long ago, and is still in the process of being restored. Access is restricted to 12 boats a day, you can only enter or leave between the hours of 12-2PM, and you have to pre-book your place.
We arrived promptly, moored up, and went for a walk along the canal. By this time, the heat from the sun was intense. It was hard to believe we were in England, or that just a couple of days ago when picked up the boat, the weather had been cold and wet.
The walk in the sunshine took us all the way past the first set of locks (which were padlocked shut, to stop anyone getting in or out), and down to a picnic area, where we disposed of our rubbish (there are bins at strategic points along the canal) and used the facilities before walking back up to the boat again.
By the time we got back to the boat the lock keeper had arrived and it was time for us to start making way.
Elaine and I handled the locks whilst Trevor and the Captain drove the boat.
At the first lock I spotted a small hole in the floor by the lock gate, but thought nothing of it. Then, as the water rushed out of the lock to lower the boat, a short, sharp blast of dirty canal water came rushing up through that hole and squirted me right in the face! If it had been a cold day, it might not have been funny, but as it was so hot it wasn’t too bad. Elaine found it hilarious, as did the old lock keeper.
We moored up for lunch (nachos and salad, and a few picky bits) back at the place with the bins.
There was very little air movement, and by now the sun was raging. In fact it was so hot that some of our cheese started to melt!
After lunch we carried on pootling along, this canal is very wild and natural, with a completely different feel to the Llangollen. Peaceful. And quiet.
So peaceful in fact that Trevor and I both needed a little power nap. Just a few minutes to recharge our batteries. Although when questioned, we both denied that we’d been asleep, until confronted with hard evidence (Elaine took photos of us both).
By way of handling this mutiny, we pulled up at the first if two pubs along the canal; for some r&r. My punishment was to find a postbox and deliver a thick wedge of cards.
This could’ve been a long and difficult challenge as we were in quite a remote place, but after some searching I found a little red postbox and pushed all of the cards inside.
One of the best things about this pub stop, at the Queen’s Head, was the free wifi. Having struggled for decent signal for so long it was great to get back online. If nothing else, it gave me the chance to upload today’s blog photos.
After one drink we moved on. There was still plenty of water between us and our final stop of the day, the Navigation Inn.
Another boat had moored up beside us whilst we were in the pub. Manned by a retired husband and wife. In the few moments we had to chat, I asked them about the Navigation Inn. The husband looked me up and down, in my short shorts, sweaty t-shirt, blue shoes and Harry Potter socks and simply said “It’s quite a posh place”.
There were plenty of locks on our journey down the full length of the Monty, and one very stiff lift bridge. We negotiated them all easily (although I wouldn’t say winding the lift bridge was easy), we’re definitely getting into the swing of this now, and it didn’t take long to get to our final mooring spot.
Our only obstacle was a friendly fisherman who looked just like a Gerry Anderson puppet (think Parker from Thunderbirds, but with a stuck on beard). He was down to his last piece of bait (a worm), and he’d only caught two fish all afternoon. He was happy though. You meet all sorts of characters on the canal.
Before mooring up for the night we found a free shower block, and finally Trevor had his chance to freshen up. The rest of us had shower number two for the day.
We threw our glad rags on and headed to the Navigation Inn.
Now, with a name like Navigation Inn, and the confirmation that it was quite a posh establishment, what would you expect the decor of this pub to be like? All ships bells, charts, and pictures of knots, right?
Wrong. It was full of watches, horse brasses, and old canal plaques. Quite an odd choice really. And not posh at all. It was a little disappointing, in a way.
What wasn’t disappointing though was the food. It was delicious, though I think it helped that we were all hungry.
We rounded out the day with a trip to a local farm shop (which was actually a shed with a fridge in it and an honesty box). We bought some milk.
There was just enough time for a quick game of UNO and then it was lights out. Another successful, and very enjoyable day.