The Montgomery Canal

11th October 2014 (a little delayed post due to O2’s 3G dead zone)

As I write this we have been out from Overwater for just over a week and so far, for once, we have stuck to the schedule.  Sunday to Nantwich, Monday to Wrenbury, Tuesday to Whitchurch, Wednesday to Ellesmere, Thursday to Maesbury Marsh (on the Montgomery Canal), Friday stayed put and walked the un-navigable section to Pant on the Welsh border and Saturday (today) we turned Oakmere around 250 yards beyond Crofts Mill Lift Bridge – you can go no further.  Tonight we are moored on the Weston Branch, in pole position for ascending the Frankton staircase which is manned and only open between 12:00 and 14:00.

I am sure some would complete this round trip within a week but where is the fun in rushing.

Much work remains to join up the entire Montgomery Canal (35 miles from Frankton to Newtown) but I am just grateful and amazed to cruise those first seven miles to Maesbury Marsh; when I first passed the entrance to the canal at Frankton in 1977, there was little trace of the canal which had closed in 1944, harder still to imagine it would ever re-open.

Oakmere remains an absolute joy.  She is a heavy boat with a larger draught than normal which means she handles beautifully, sitting rock steady in the water – the only downside being she takes some extra muscle to bow haul and she will find shallow water quicker than most (exactly like Florence).  Not only is the engine a joy to behold, the 3 cylinder Beta Marine sounds wonderful and generates masses of heat which permeates the entire boat – the true heart of the machine.

The weather has been mixed throughout, hardly a day without a monsoon shower. Equally there have been glorious periods of bright light, particularly in the morning and early evening when the low sun floodlights a sparkling wet world.  It has been a memorable trip and we are only just over half way … much effort remains for the hard-pressed crew 😉

A selection of images from the trip – not all in chronological order and not all on the Montgomery:

Narrowboat Oakmere in the evening light ... Narrowboat Oakmere Llangollen Canal Artwork at Ellesmere Junction ... Maesbury Marsh African Queen Oakmere in the evening light Morning mist ... All that remains ... Water under troubled bridge Narrowboat Oakmere
Narrowboat Oakmere
Evening light
Evening light
Slow down, you move too fast



  1. greenmackenzie · October 15, 2014

    Wow, looks wonderful….what a peaceful way to travel. The second and third from last shots are really breathtaking, such beautiful mysterious light.

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      Many thanks Seonaid – if you want to slow right down and find a hidden world, there is no better way to travel.

  2. restlessjo · October 15, 2014

    So jealous! What a beautiful boat, Robin 🙂
    I did my bit for canals with a Waterside walk in Leeds this week. Hurry? Absolutely not!

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      She is lovely Jo, looks wonderful and sounds even better. I will catch up with your posts when we get home. All the best, Robin

  3. Cate Franklyn · October 16, 2014

    Loving this post! One question. Where do you steer from? The boat is all enclosed!

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      Many thanks Cate – the tillerman stands on the narrow open deck at the back. The design is based on traditional working narrowboats from the 19th century (although Oakmere is modelled on a tug) – the great advantage is that whilst your top half is exposed to the elements, the bottom half stays dry and warm with the heat rising from the engine room.

  4. Graham Stephen · October 16, 2014

    some nice atmospheric shots there!

  5. Malin H · October 16, 2014

    Agreed with Graham!

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      Many thanks Malin – I have been disconnected from the Internet for much of the last two weeks but I will catch up with your posts when we get home.
      All the best, Robin

  6. socialbridge · October 16, 2014

    Oh, such heaven. Thanks for the update and stunning photos. Safe travels and no rushing whatever!

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      Many thanks, it has been a very enjoyable trip – I will miss it ….. until the next time 🙂

  7. Tish Farrell · October 16, 2014

    Only been narrow boating once – on the Cheshire Ring – but have not forgotten the sense of stepping off the humdrum world into another place. Your lovely photos have reminded me. Happy voyaging. You are almost in my territory. Have a chum who used to have an old house beside the canal at Welsh Frankton.

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      That’s quite a challenging introduction (especially through Manchester), did you do the entire ring? The canals certainly take you into some hidden places – we particularly enjoyed that lonely spot near Hordley (the last three photos). Also our first trip into Whitchurch – very impressed by the Italian Restaurant, Etzio – thoroughly recommend if you ever pass that way.

      • Tish Farrell · October 17, 2014

        Yes, we did the whole Ring, and yes the stretch through Manchester was rather hair-raising – gangs of kids swarmed all over the boat, and were diving into lock basin in front of us. But we could well see how us cruising through a community suffering obvious hardship caused resentment; we wouldn’t have chosen to do that if we had realised.The rest of the trip was lovely though. Thanks for the Whitchurch Italian tip.

      • northumbrianlight · October 17, 2014

        The dreaded Ashton Canal – in the late 70s and early 80s we suffered the kids as well and half submerged stolen cars. In 2008 it was much improved but not without incident. There is now a Marina at the bottom of the flight which sounds like progress except there are now stories of boaters being robbed at gunpoint!

      • Tish Farrell · October 17, 2014

        Heavens! You are a bit of sitting duck in a slow narrow boat.

  8. easyweimaraner · October 16, 2014

    I totally love your Oakmere and I wish I could spend a holiday on such a boat :o) (we better don’t rent a boat, I know my family and their tendency to mischief)

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2014

      I thoroughly recommend Easy – the perfect holiday for dogs with lots of opportunities to make new friends 🙂

  9. Pit · October 18, 2014

    You’re so right: there’s absolutely no use in rushing on a narrowboat tour. We we did it [] I called it “the discovery of slowliness” and both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed that relaxing way of travelling.
    Have a great trip,

    • northumbrianlight · October 18, 2014

      Many thanks Pit – now home, it was a great trip which I thoroughly recommend. If you have not done it, the journey through to Llangollen is one of the best on the system although it is best to avoid high season, it can get very busy/ultra-slow through the locks.

      • Pit · October 18, 2014

        You’re welcome.
        I really would like to explore more of the English canals. My way, though, would be a round trip and not an out-and-back one. I don’t know why I am that way. There’s no real \reason with it. It’s the same with me on a bicycle tour, btw. Anyway: there are plenty tours that I could do. We’ll see. Now that I am retired I can easily avoind the holidays, as I already did on the tour in 2011.
        Btw, some time ago there was some talk on a blog I follow, to get some of my blogging friends together on a narrowboat. That idea might well be worth persuing.

  10. LaVagabonde · October 24, 2014

    Oh my. What a vehicle. What a float. I’ve been away from the virtual world, too. Nice to take a break sometimes.

    • northumbrianlight · October 24, 2014

      Many thanks Julie – yes, it is definitely good to escape and slow down, no easier way than on hidden canals. Hope you enjoyed your break.

  11. dunelight · October 25, 2014

    I have always wanted to do this. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s