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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Making way to Maesbury.

There is a road that runs parallel to the canal and for some reason vehicles seemed to use it right through the night. We are so used to really quiet moorings that I woke up a fair bit through the night.

We were soon away on another very fine morning with hardly a cloud in the shy, again! very quickly we were at the three Aston Locks that drop the canal down a little over 18'.

Running along on the off side of the Aston Locks is a new nature reserve that has been 'built' by C&RT with a £2.4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is to take run off from the locks to create a 2 acre pond to encourage the very special plant life along with the damsel and dragon flies and hopefully water voles and otters along with birds. It also looks like part is a fishing lake too. I think that as the canal, before restoration, was a Site of Special Scientific  Importance so part of the price to open the canal was have a 'stand by' environment. The whole scheme is costing £4 million as it included opening of 1.5 miles of canal near Welshpool.

We were soon down the three locks and hardly anybody passing at all. there are certainly plenty of damsel and dragon flies at the moment and it is great to watch them. I wish they would sit a bit longer so I could identify them.

This is the 'fishing lake' with the run off link to the canal.

As we passed down the canal there were three helicopters in the air doing circuits in loose formation. It seems that the main helicopter initial training base is at RAF Shawbury not far away. In April this year they had just won a £1.1 Billion award for training helicopter pilots until 2030. RAF Shawbury opened in 1917 but after WWI finished it returned to agriculture in 1920. The threat of war in 1938 meant it reopened as a basic training school. It then became an advanced training base, a school for navigation, a school for Air Traffic Controllers in 1950 and finally helicopters in 1976.

On the outskirts of Maesbury Marsh is this little old factory that started life in the early 1800's as a smelting works using locally sourced lead and coal. It became a bone and artificial fertilizer factory in 1860's. A good supply of cow and horse hooves were boiled up. The geletine going to make glue and the rest been ground up to make fertilizer. There was an even bigger chimney that was demolished in 1892. Maybe it is then that this factory closed and the business moved up the canal to Rednal Basin which we passed yesterday.

A little further down the cut is Maesbury Marsh Navigation Inn. It certainly looks like it may well have been a warehouse at one time but in 1896 it had ten rooms and seven stables for boat horses. Just the other side of the bridge, where the modern services house is now, was the warehouse that had a crane. Maesbury was a busy little port with the bone factory, warehouse, grain store and flour mill.

There is no winding hole at Maesbury so you have to proceed  a little further and beyond the lift bridge. The winding hole is far enough away that you aren't really comfortable in leaving the bridge up waiting for the boat to turn. It was a bit stiff too.

The actual winding hole is at Gronwen Wharf which was actually the terminus of a plateway that brought coal from a mine at Morda and Coed y Go. Some of the rails have been found as well as some wheels. There are several boats moored in the winding hole but there is plenty of room to turn.

We returned to Maesbury, under the bridge once again and had lunch.

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