Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,697

    Default UK Trip report.(s) 2016

    We didn't get to visit the US in 2016 but that didn't stop us hitting the road (and water) here in the UK. So I thought I would share a little of what we got up to to keep ourselves amused this side of the pond. The first Roadtrip report is actually more a Boat trip report, but it was a lot of fun.

    Trip one was a journey to Wales where we would navigate the 'Mon and Brec' canal through the Brecon Beacons NP on a Narrow boat.
    The trip idea was actually 'born' about 10 months earlier when we visited Stratford upon Avon,( home of renowned poet William Shakespeare) and admired the boats upon the Avon canal. There were 6 of us and we decided there and then it would be fun to give it a go some day. From that point on we had a couple of discussions and the planning was left to 'Yours truly', as I usually organise trips for us and enjoy doing it. I decided on the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal as it is described as one of the prettiest of the UK's waterways and I liked the fact it was a closed waterway, which meant that it was fairly quiet and you didn't have a sudden surge of boats entering from another waterway. Another plus was that it had everything a canal has to offer, Locks, lift bridges, an Aqueduct and a tunnel, but not too many. (Wanna relax !) Some stretches of canal in the UK have 20 plus locks to negotiate one after the other which sounds more like work. So I got us a reasonable deal on a 52ft Narrow boat for a week and then all that was left to do was to study the canal and nearby villages [Pubs !)and wait for the date to come around and depart.

    It was 7am when we hit the road, 6 of us and all our luggage fitted easily into our Nissan Elgrand and by mid morning we were entering Wales via the Severn crossing.



    As we could not collect the boat until 2pm I had chosen a scenic route through the welsh countryside alongside the River Wye where we stopped at Tintern Abbey for brunch and to stretch the legs.



    Having full stomachs we walked by the river and admired the Abbey before heading to the Market town of Abergavenny where we picked up some supplies for the boat. We then made our way to the boat yard in the small town of Gilwern where we were introduced to our home for the next week and given a tour and shown how to operate it.

    The Kidwelly Castle.


    I had planned to get to a certain spot for the night that would set us up for the goal of travelling the canal from end to end in the week we had, this was about 70 miles in distance. Not much you might think, but at 2.5mph and obstacles along the way, it was a challenge that not many took on. On the water we chugged along this very narrow canal with it's tight turns and narrow bridges to navigate and slowly, after a few scrapes and bumps got to grips with it. [Well some of us] We moored up for the night on a quiet bank and after a long day we were happy to sit down to an evening meal and a bottle (or two) of wine.

    [IMG]DSCF4060 by David Gomm, on Flickr[/IMG]

    I was up quite early so I got ready and went for a little walk along the canal bank, it was so peaceful and the only sound to be heard came from the wildlife. Once everyone had got ready it was anchors away and we were off. Being more familiar with the boat and how it handled it was a lot more relaxing and when you nailed a turn or a bridge, it was very rewarding. At times you only had inches to spare either side and steering from the rear with a pivot point 26ft ahead of you [half way up the boat] it was a neat challenge, it's like trying to turn in a narrow passage with a very long piece of wood on your shoulder. The boat would not always steer as you thought it would either, for example when you are approaching a sharp bend from a sheltered spot in the valley to open land where the wind is blowing through. The wind would catch the front of the boat before you knew it was there and try to push it in the opposite direction. It was soon apparent that if you suddenly saw ripples on the water ahead you had to steer earlier and harder, great fun !







    Our first stop of the day for lunch was at Goytre Wharf, a 200 year old Industrial Heritage site. It has a boat yard and café as well as the canal trust visitor centre with lots of info on this historic canal and there are the old Limekilns remaining from days gone by with statues of those that used to work here. The canal was originally built as a corridor for the transport of coal and iron over 200 years ago and is steeped in history with old iron works, limekilns and tram roads to be found along it's length. Long after it had 'passed it's sell by date' the canal was reopened to tourism and continues to be worked on to this day. A new section of canal was opened up by the canal trust and they are encouraging users of the canal to use it to help keep it open so we thought we would do our bit. We entered this section of canal and soon learnt how few bothered, it only had a narrow channel with both sides being overrun with plant life and the boat was bottoming out on numerous occasions as the silt had settled underneath. It took quite a bit of 'poling' to free ourselves at time and were frequently stopping to clear the prop from reeds and a couple of locals even assisted by grabbing ropes and giving us a pull. They said it was unusual to see such a large boat this far down the canal, but hey ho, we had done our bit ! We were within a mile of this end of the canal, but it was getting late and we had a mooring by a canal side pub with our name on it and the canal was putting up an even bigger fight, so we did the sensible thing and turned around while we could and grabbed a pint and settled down for the night.



    The following morning we started to head north back up the canal. This section doesn't have any of the challenges that lay ahead [Locks, Tunnels etc] so we made steady progress and continued to improve with the handling characteristics of the boat. We stopped in a small village for a pub lunch and had a lovely walk into the surrounding hills for a couple of hours before continuing to our overnight stop.





    Will have to conclude this another time, gotta run.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,697

    Default

    The next 2 days saw us meander our way back up the canal and past our start point towards the Welsh town of Brecon where the canal ended. We had enjoyed the views and walks in the surrounding hills of the Brecon Beacons and stopped at villages and spoke with many friendly locals along the towpath and in the towns and villages. At anytime we felt like a stretch of the legs through the day while navigating the boat, we could simply hop off and walk along the canal and hop back on when we liked as long as two people were on board at anyone time.

    I thought I might find a week long trip get a bit tedious but it was the opposite, I wanted more. The views never looked the same when back tracking and there was a variety of things to keep you occupied, including navigating the bridges and locks. It was very relaxing and although a slow pace of life, the day's shot by.









    This bunch jumped ship but soon realised how good they had it !



    So we soon set them back to work raising bridges, operating the locks and making tea. ;-)



    To get to Brecon we had navigated 5 locks, an Aqueduct, a tunnel, 4 or 5 lift bridges, approximately 120 narrow bridges to pass under, a thousand and one bends and at least a dozen pubs !! So it was only right that we walk into Brecon and have a pub lunch before turning around and doing it again ! (Well only half the bends, narrow bridges and pubs returning, but all the rest is this side of the boat yard.)

    On this rather tight fitting electric bridge we had to shut the gates to stop traffic before continuing through. I thought I would miss my map reading following a canal but as it turned out it was good to keep track of your position so that you could send crew members ashore before reaching the bridges and locks and prepare them in advance which was better and quicker than having to moor up on the canal side.



    You really can't find peace and quiet like this in the UK as you slowly go through farmland and valleys that are not easily accessible even for the locals. The wildlife is wonderful as you have Herons flying up the canal ahead of you, ducks feeding from your hands and Moorhens swimming around while cattle and sheep look on from the bankside. It really was a wake up call when we finally handed the boat back and got back up to speed with the 'real world' having spent the last 2 weeks at 2-3mph ! Hope to be doing another one in the near future.

    Dave.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,697

    Default Short videos.

    Just thought I would post up some footage from the boat for anyone who maybe interested.

    A manually operated and an electric bridge. (Not a lot of room to spare !)



    Dave.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,697

    Default The Ashford tunnel and Aqueduct.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,697

    Default Operating the locks.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,509

    Default

    So cool, thanks for the report! I had just finished reading a series of historical fiction books about the Lehigh Canal, in eastern PA (around Easton), so this was very timely, especially the videos.



    Donna

Similar Threads

  1. My spring trip (report)
    By dinesh75 in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 06-23-2009, 03:27 PM
  2. Colorado trip report
    By Dee August in forum RoadTrip Field Reports
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 09-22-2005, 04:05 AM
  3. PA trip report!
    By Mass Tim in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 04-23-2005, 03:48 PM
  4. Kentucky Trip Report
    By in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-14-2004, 09:49 PM
  5. Road trip report
    By Quebec Gen in forum RoadTrip Field Reports
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 06-30-2004, 09:22 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES