Monday, October 2, 2017

Up, Up and Across

Let's do it on foot first
Probably the high point of this narrowboat trip was the passage over the two big aqueducts on the Llangollen Canal. An aqueduct is simply a bridge to carry the canal over a road, river or in the case an entire river valley. The first is the Chirk Aqueduct, which carried an Iron trough upon 10 masonry arches 70 feet high and 710 feet long. It is over 200 years old, opened in 1801. There is now a railway viaduct running beside it. At the north end of the
Crossing the Chirk
aqueduct is a tunnel which runs for 421 meters, so depending on which direction you are coming, you navigate your boat 70 feet above a river valley and then enter a tunnel under a hill. One of our crew was both slightly claustrophobic and not fond of heights, so although I drove over and under the first time, I handed the tiller to him on the way back, thinking if he was concentrating on driving the boat he might not be so concerned.

That is a long way down
Although shorter at only 307 meters, the Pontcysyllte aqueduct is much higher at 127 feet, and much more dramatic because it is simply a metal trough sitting on 18 stone piers, so when you drive across you have to actually lean over the side of the boat to see the edge. It appears there is nothing holding the boat up.

This really is a dramatic experience driving a 70 foot long vessel across a bridge high above a river valley. You have to have confidence that the builder,
Across the Pontiunpronouncable

Thomas Telford built this structure to last over 200 years ago. Fortunately, the trough is barely wider than the boat, so you hardly have to steer, the trough guiding you across, and although it is difficult to cross without slight bounces against the sides, the trough has survived for 200 years and is still holding boats over 100 feet in the air.
I'm not scared . . .

Certainly an experience we will remember for many years to come.

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