Firstly, and I’d like to be very clear about this… neither the mayhem nor the Trevor in the title relate to our Trevor. You know.
In fact the Trevor in question is a tiny basin at the end of the Pontcysyllte aqueduct – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The day began, as all of them seem to at the moment, with an early start. Not by Trevor this time (and in this case I mean our Trevor, just to be clear). No, the Captain and I (now promoted to “ship’s boy”) woke early for no good reason – I’m putting it down to excitement.
Breakfast arrived in the form of a delicious fry up. Just right for starting the day. Sausages, bacon, black pudding, beans, toast, and scrambled eggs were all served up and duly eaten.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a traditional cooked breakfast if the smoke alarm didn’t go off. And so it did.
Then we were off and running, trying to get a head start on all of the other boaters in the area.
Today was always going to be an exciting one, as the plan involved going through tunnels and over aqueducts and trying to negotiate some very narrow spaces.
The first big adventure was Chirk Tunnel, at almost 500 metres in length its quite an experience. Especially when someone pips the (very) loud horn right by your head! Or when someone else creeps up behind you in the dark and breaths on your neck (Trevor! Our Trevor that is, not the place… we haven’t got to that bit yet). I jumped right out of my skin twice on that tunnel journey.
After that came a hot and hilly hike. That’s right, we actually got off the boat! Not only that, but we walked the best part of 6 miles in the process (over 16,000 steps!). It was such a shock to the system that at least one of us came down with a mild case of motion sickness when on dry land.
Our destination was Chirk Castle, an almost 700 year old National Trust property. The trek up to it felt like a very long way (it also had a Famous Five vibe, with backpacks and walking boots, and a couple of mysteries to solve, such as “what was that smell…?”).
We made it, and in good time too. And we all felt jolly spiffing upon arrival. Ok, not spiffing, or even that jolly – it was more like exhaustion, that’s what we all felt.
With just enough time to regain our puff we were ready for our tour of the building. We were taken around by a very knowledgeable woman, who made it interesting for everyone there.
Meanwhile outside, a very elderly man in a flat cap and wax jacket was marching around, talking loudly, and acting for all the world like Basil Fawlty. Only I don’t think he was joking. He was the “outside only” tour guide, as he put it.
We spent lunch at the castle, then wandered around a bit more (including exploring the gardens, which seemed to go on forever). Then it was time to head back to the boat. None of us really wanted to walk the nearly 2 mile trip back and so when we spotted a helpful man in a National Trust minibus we managed to get a lift back almost half way. The remaining walk didn’t seem so bad after that.
Back on the boat and underway (after some well earned scones), we pootled along quite well, apart from getting stuck behind a rather old man and his wife – I managed to negotiate safe passage past them, by which I mean I stood at the bow of our boat as we approached their stern and very politely asked them to move out of the way, you’re slowing us down. Of course these canal boats are quite noisy so naturally I had to shout loudly to be heard. To make sure I didn’t completely offend them, I smiled a lot and tried to look innocent. It seemed to do the trick and we were soon on our way leaving them in our wake.
Somehow we all managed to get caught out by the arrival of the enormous Pontcysyllte aqueduct – even though it’s the main reason for our trip up here, and we’d just negotiated our way carefully around a long string of chugging narrowboats.
The aqueduct is an amazing feat of Thomas Telford engineering, and the views are spectacular (we were very high up) but in all honesty I think it’s best viewed from off the boat.
And so, at last we come to the main theme of this entry: the mayhem of Trevor.
Now, stick with me for a minute as the word Trevor is going to come up a lot, and deciding which Trevor I mean may not be easy, but everything will make sense in the end.
Trevor is tiny, with a sharp bend in the middle, and no room to manoeuvre. It’s also incredibly busy as everyone converges here off the back of the aqueduct.
At Trevor, our Trevor found himself at the end of a rope pulling in the nose of the narrowboat with all his strength, whilst also chatting to the Three Stooges of Trevor who sit on the wall watching all the Trevor visitors as they struggle to get around. Some of those visitors are also called Trevor (I heard at least 2 get mentioned when we were there).
We had decided (before really appreciating what Trevor was like) that Trevor was going to be our watering stop straight after the aqueduct. This was a grand idea apart from 2 small flaws. Firstly, as previously mentioned, Trevor is ridiculously small and busy, and secondly it hasn’t been a free watering hole for almost 20 years, despite what our map says!
This is where Elaine switched on the charm and sweet talked a guy at the local boat hire company, getting us free access to a usually paid for water supply, as long as we were quick about it.
Getting our boat into Trevor’s boat hire company marina was no mean feat. It took the whole team (and the barge pole) to do it.
And so Trevor (that’s our Trevor now) was pulling the bow rope and chatting to his new friends, Elaine was dashing about with a hose that was only just long enough to reach the boat, the Captain was keeping the boat in check, and I had the other two ropes. It was a delicate operation but as a crew we pulled together and got the job done.
You can see that Trevor (both the place and person) was busy. Add in a few impatient and inexperienced boat handlers to the mix, and Trevor soon became a bumping ground, full of mayhem (I mean, someone actually tried to put a barge pole through our window… it was just that kind of crazy).
And throughout the whole thing we were watched and encouraged by Trevor’s new friends, these three funny old men who like to hang around this place and enjoy the chaos.
With that, we were done with Trevor, and it was time to move on.
We navigated our way through some of the narrowest sections of the canal, which was no mean feat, especially the parts that said “one way only”.
In the end we moored up in a reasonably quiet spot, ate home made steak and ale pie and trifle (the cream for the trifle was whisked up by hand by Trevor and me, using nothing but a fork… something that impressed the Captain, I can tell you).
And now, the day is done.