Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 5. Blake Mere - Queen's Head

I could wake up on a narrow boat moored next to Blakesmere every day for the rest of my life and we a very happy boy indeed, but I guess it's only fair to move on and give someone else a chance to enjoy the best spot on the canal for a while. The morning's travel was in stark contrast to yesterday, and we seemed to manage to collide with nearly every obstacle that we came into contact with in the first part of the day, but thankfully we'd more or less got that out of out system by the time we made it back to the thriving waterside metropolis that is Ellesmere and needed to really be on our toes in order to navigate the busy canal.

Today was the only day during the trip in which we had to keep to any kind of schedule, as we'd booked ahead to arrange our place at the Frankston Locks on the entrance to the Montgomery branch, as the locks are limited to twelve boats a day in a bid to keep canal traffic from degrading the banks of this section of the route, only recently (work started in the '80s, recent in the scale of the life of the canal, anyways) being reclaimed for narrowboat usage after having become a sanctuary for many aquatic plants since it was decommissioned in 1936. As usual with anything on the canal, we underestimated the time that it would take to get there, but (even despite some difficulties with the water point in Ellesmere slowing to a trickle) we comfortably managed our 12-2pm slot and began the fun of descending through the five locks into the quiet stillness that is the Montgomery.

Having negotiated the difficulties of the locks, I managed to sprain my ankle somewhat dramatically on returning to the boat after the last one, leaving me feeling sorry for myself for the rest of the day, but extremely thankful that it was a relatively minor injury, especially considering the difficulty of attempting to somehow return to medical services if they'd been required. I put myself to bed and missed most of the rest of the days travel once I'd got my foot out of the waterbath, which was a pity, as the placid Montgomery is a very different place to the main canal and I was sad to miss it. Thankfully we'll be returning along the same route tomorrow, so I'll get another chance to take a look around then.

My father-in-law successfully managed to turn the boat at Queen's Head (again overshooting, but getting away with it), so in celebration we adjourned to the eponymous pub for an early pizza dinner before making a little progress back down the canal again to a suitable mooring point away from the road, with just us, the cows, some empty chairs in the back of someone's yard and another litre or so of freshly picked blackberries to spend the night in. I honestly think that we could have got away with not mooring overnight at all, as the canal was still as glass and there was no other traffic at all. Life of a narrowboat is a very different beast out here; for a day or two I imagine it would be a nice change, but I think I'd miss the people if I were to spend any extended period of time out in lesser-travelled waters.

Safe voyages. (Watch your footing!)

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