Saturday 12 April 2008

Bones, Maffi and Halfie

A few days ago Jan and I drove to Wales. On the way we met up with blogging boaters (or boating bloggers) Bones and Maffi. We didn't give them much notice that we were going to call in, but they didn't seem to mind. I'm glad Maffi told me that they'd moved from Thrupp to Wolvercote, though. Which was better for us, as it was less than a mile from our route via the A40. It was great to meet them. Having read their blogs it was like meeting old friends - I felt that I already knew them. Thanks for the lunch, Maffi.

NBs Bones and Milly M (and another, passing) at Wolvercote

Well, we had to continue our journey, so we tore ourselves away. Bones and Maffi waved us out of the pub car park and we got back on the A40. We used to take this route frequently when we lived in Milton Keynes a couple of decades ago. In those days, and with small children, we'd pull an old caravan to Wiseman's Bridge, near Saundersfoot, for wonderfully cheap seaside holidays.

a view from the cottage

We arrived at the cottage we were staying at, between Gilwern and Govilon, at about 1715, and made mugs of tea which we drank outside in the sun. Sue, the owner of the cottage, had left a welcome plate of Welsh cakes for us.

bridge 100, Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

bridge 101

new concrete channel meets old canal

Then we started walking along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, which was at the bottom of the drive. I pushed my bike, in case we walked too far to want to walk back (then I would have cycled back to get the car and picked Jan up). We turned north west along the canal towards Gilwern. The canal had been drained following a breach, and it was interesting to see how shallow it looked (see the first two bridge pictures).

new concrete lining makes the canal look full

new bridge by A465 dualling works

and from the other side

bridge 102

concrete block bank protection

At Castle Narrowboats their fleet was sitting on the bank. Just beyond bridge 104 the towpath was closed owing to the breach, so Jan started to walk back, while I cycled along the road to find where I could rejoin the towpath from the other side. I found the footpath to Llanelly Church which crossed the canal, so I pushed the bike up the hillside to the bridge (106). There was a sign across a gate which read “Towpath Closed” but I could join the towpath over a stile and avoid the closed gate. 100 yards back towards Gilwern was the breach. It looked spectacular: a huge scouring out of the towpath side bank. Excavators had dug away more of the bank - I suppose to cut back to stable material - ready for the repair. From the road I saw how the breach had swept away the garden of a house. There was orange plastic netting scattered down the hillside. A woman we spoke to a couple of days later told us that a child in the house had said, "Mummy, why is there chocolate coming in the house?"

Gilwern Bridge 103

Church Road Wharf, Govilon, home of Castle Narrowboats

aqueduct at Church Road Wharf

the breach at Gilwern, east of Ffynnon-Eirin Bridge 106

where the canal flowed down the hillside

Ffynnon-Eirin Bridge 106 looking away from the breach site

stop planks at Bridge 106

After taking a few pictures of the breach I cycled back up the road to bridge 104 and back along the towpath. Jan was waiting for me where we had started our walk. Up the drive to the cottage, and sandwiches for tea … and bed.

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