Trails and Tribulations is the name of my favourite album at the moment.  The title sums up well the last couple of weeks as we have been paddling the canals of North Shropshire and into Wales.  The trails we have travelled along have been a winter wonderland of peaceful waters, countryside views and a gentle tranquillity. What about the Tribulations? Well paddling in winter leads to cold and wet hands and cold but dry feet.  My feet this afternoon lost all feeling. It has been worth it.

This stretch of the Montgomery canal is often overgrown – it is ‘landlocked’ and not accessible by boat from the UK main system so there is little traffic to keep down the weeds. The water is crystal clear.

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It is a nuisance to have to lift out the kayak around the locks so I tried to get down an overflow channel.

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Definitely the narrowest canal I have paddled!

The end part of the Llangollen canal has no locks.  Hurrah.  It does have a long tunnel at Chirk. A 420m tunnel feels quite long when you get to the middle.  This tunnel has a towpath all the way through it.

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and of course this canal had that famous aqueduct with a long drop over the edge.

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On a weekday in winter there are hardly any canal boats on this stretch.  In mid-summer it is mayhem.  The absence of other boats mean calm and still water – there were some wonderful reflections.

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Parts of this canal are so narrow that  there is only room for one canal boat so there is a sort of one way system.  A notice advises you sent someone to walk ahead and warn any oncoming boats. You can imagine what this is like when the canal is filled with hire boats and helmspersons who have only had a couple of days experience. Best to keep out of their way.  There was no problem today.

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We lunched in Llangollen and fed a friendly duck

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I was struck by the reflections in the water of the canal boats on the other bank.  I have turned this photo upside down just to give the reflections more prominence.

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Then we paddle back to our starting point through the winter trees and more reflections.

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Perfect days.

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