Trails and Tribulations

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.


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


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.


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.


We lunched in Llangollen and fed a friendly duck


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.


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


Perfect days.


Nov 19

It seems a long time since I had a ‘proper’ walk in the hills. That is probably because it has been a long time! November isn’t the warmest month for this sort of thing.

I went for a walk round the Howgills which is the range of hills to the east of the M6 near Kendal. They are quiet, empty hills and I hardly saw a soul.

I was wrapped up warm with lots of layers, gloves, warm hat, two pairs of trousers. Of course who should appear along the path but a fell runner in shorts! He must have been freezing.

These hills are definitely rounded

I was aiming for the distant one on the skyline. Gosh it looks a long way away.

The paths around here are only faint. It’s just like the old days when I first started exploring the hills. None of those engineered paths around here.

The sun even warmed me for a short while.

If you look carefully you can see the motorway down in the valley

Goodness my legs are tired tonight after 4,500 feet of ascent. I definitely don’t get out enough. Sitting watching films for the last three days at the Kendal Mountain Festival hasn’t helped at all!

It was worth it to be back home in the mountains.