I’m back now from our week-long narrowboat trip from Middlewich in Cheshire to Llangollen in Wales and back again. I had a fantastic time and was really happy to get away from it all; pity it’s back to work on Monday.
I think everyone else had a good time too. Despite a couple of rainy days I think we were fairly lucky with the weather on the whole and we enjoyed a nice and sunny first trip over the aqueduct.
The boat we hired, Poplar, was designed for a maximum of 12 people but that would be with all 8 bunks in use and the two dining tables converted into double beds. As it was with only 5 of us lads on board the boat felt quite cramped. We needed to use some of the bunks for extra storage space as well. I think the boat could have accommodated one more person (a total of 6) with relative comfort, or a total of 8 people if they were willing to be rather cramped. I just can’t imagine it with 12 people, even if some of them were children!
At 70ft in length I was a bit nervous about driving it, as it’s quite hard to even see as far as the front end of it! I didn’t really have any need to be concerned though; it wasn’t really any more difficult than any of the other boats we have hired. They’re pretty indestructible things anyway and your biggest concern is slamming into someone else’s boat and scraping their paintwork.
I was probably in greatest fear for my life while standing on top of the boat while going over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. I had to sit down in the middle as the wind was blowing a gale to the point where it was actually dangerous. Next scariest thing was when Tim decided to stop the boat by just looping the middle rope over a mooring post while it was still going at a fair speed. It tightened up and dragged the boat over at an alarming angle so it felt like the whole thing was going to tip over and capsize. Popey fell over and so did a lot of the contents of the boat!
The wiki page covers the plan in excruciating detail, though we didn’t stick to our suggested stopping points very well since we thought it best to push on further some days and take it easy at other times.