Today we left Ellesmere in bright sunshine and it stayed bright all day. Unfortunately it was even more windy than yesterday which made it feel even colder. The wind also caused handling problems for boats throughout the day.

To start the day Blue Pearl and Albert winded at the end of the Ellesmere Arm. We then made our way to Frankton Junction where Montgomery Canal leaves the main canal and continued our route towards Llangollen. It is at Frankton that the bridge numbering changes. Bridges are numbered 1W, 2W etc. as you progress towards Llangollen.

Bridge 1W on the Llangollen Canal, Frankton Junction
Throughout the morning groups of hire boats were making their way in the other direction. At one of the bridges near Tetchill there was some minor congestion when a boat ran aground leaving a bridge hole causing two boats travelling in the same direction to stop before the bridge. With both Blue Pearl and Albert going in the other direction this meant five boats meeting at one bridge.

The wind was blowing particularly strongly, and right across the canal, at New Marton Locks. Several boats found conditions very difficult indeed and ended up on the offside and aground. Luckily both our boats made it through the locks without any incident.
We moored up for lunch at St Martin's Moor on the towpath side, which was upwind. Getting lines ashore and making the boats fast required some rapid manoeuvres.
Moored at St Martin's Moor, note the snow on the hills
After we had moored fast we noticed that a heron was sheltering in the ditch just behind the towpath. It stayed there all the time we were moored up - over an hour. By the way, we know it was a real bird and not one of the often seen plastic versions!
Sheltering Heron
The strong wind continued well into the afternoon and we saw at least two more boats get stuck on the offside because of the wind. After Rhoswiel progress was slow because of Albert's deep draught but we managed not to go aground. The scenery also became increasingly wintery with not only snow on the hills but also snow on the towpath. At Chirk Bank some small boys threw snowballs at Albert. One was carry an Easter egg!
Icy Towpath, Chirk Bank
Throughout the section from Rhosweil to Chirk there was lots of evidence of recently fallen trees. The remains of a particularly large tree had just been cleared from the tight corner just before the Chirk Aqueduct. It had obviously closed the navigation.

Debris from fallen tree, Chirk Bank
The crossing of the aqueduct was exhilarating. The views along the Ceriog valley are wonderful and the close proximity of the railway viaduct adds to the scene. However, the whole experience can't be compared to crossing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which comes tomorrow.  The snowy hills also added a lot to the experience. 
Blue Pearl crossing Chirk Aqueduct

Albert crossing Chirk Aqueduct with the Railway Viaduct to the left

Snowy hills viewed through Chirk Railway Viaduct

The border

Steve steering across Chirk Aqueduct
Because of Albert's deep draught and the narrow section of the channel, progress across the aqueduct was slow. Progress through Chirk tunnel was painfully slow. At one spot it was difficult realise that we were moving. However, we made it through without any mishaps. Emerging from the tunnel we were greeted with the smell of chocolate from the nearby processing factory. We remembered  the same delicious aroma from our trip through here in 1999.

Cutting at Chirk
The passage through Whitehouses Tunnel was also slow but coming after the longer Chirk Tunnel we anticipated the difficulties. We moored up for the night just after the tunnel. Although both a railway and a road are close by they appear to carry little evening traffic so it is quiet.