Do you know what this is?
It’s part of a IWA Waterways Map, with parts of the canals we’ve cruised so far. Cruised canals are in red.
Do you notice that small red dot, just under the name Trevor? No, that is not me, accidentally touching that spot with a red pencil. We cruised it. Today. It’s the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the Llangollen Canal (see the webpage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct).
The aqueduct is 307 m (336 yd) long, 3.7 m (4 yd) wide and 1.60 m (5.25 ft ) deep. It consists of a cast iron trough supported 38 m (126 ft) above the river on iron arched ribs carried on eighteen hollow masonry piers (pillars). Each of the 18 spans is 16 m (53 ft) wide. There is a small railing to the right of the towpath. On the other side? Just the abyss.
Build with blood in the mortar it was opened in 1805, and is considered to be one of the highlights of the English Canals.
Now have a look at the Waterways Map again. The aqueduct is on the Llangollen Canal. But the rest of the Llangollen Canal on the map is still blue, ie not been cruised by us.
And the roof of the narrowboat on the picture above doesn’t look like WRT either.
OK, I will explain. The narrowboat we’re on is named Betty Baker, and belongs to friends Pat and Stephen (see Crème Brûlée au Fleur de Lys). They will spend Christmas in Llangollen, and, this weekend, are moored just before the aqueduct.
By boat, this is 122 miles, with 38 locks. With us, cruising about 4 hours maximum per day, that would take fourteen days. By car? Just 61.5 miles, no locks. About 1.5 hours. So that’s what we do. Drive to Trevor Basin, park the car, and walk over the aqueduct to the boat. This way we can go with them on the boat to get back to the car, tomorrow. That’s the aqueduct done twice.
We actually do it four time, because the pub at Froncysyllte, at the southside of the aqueduct, doesn’t do meals, so we have to go over the aqueduct to Trevor to get something to eat. And back over the aqueduct of course to the boat.
What I think of the aqueduct? Well, it reminds me a bit of the first time I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco: Is this it?
Walking over the aqueduct three times probably takes away the wow-factor, and having done already the longest aqueduct in England (Edstone Aqueduct, see Birmingham and beyond) probably doesn’t help either.
But we’ll see. Next year we’ll be on the aqueduct on WRT, no doubt with me on the tiller (and a force 12 wind from the right). That might just be completely different…
I won’t add the 15 minutes and the distance onto the total hours and miles. But, although we didn’t actually drive the boat ourselves, and it also wasn’t our boat, I still think it counts towards our cruising experience. Because otherwise we have to take off the time Mick was on the tiller on the Mon&Brec as well.