Posts Tagged ‘barge’

Barging About: Llangollen Canal – Day 4

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Our final day started by re-crossing the aqueduct, we were now seasoned old hands. Only the day before the Olympic torch crossed it on a barge drawn by 3 men, how weird is that!?

We then boated uphill(!) all the way to Llangollen, and not only is that strange, but very hard work. The water tears down a narrow channel at only 1 mph less than we can move forward at. Still it was worth it.

We walked up the final stretch (motor barges not allowed) to the start of the canal where it springs from the river Dee at the Horseshoe falls. The canal was all very pretty but not a patch on the natural beauty of the river as it tumbled over the rocks.

Barging About: Lessons in Change

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Steering a barge ain’t easy! To start with you push the tiller (the steery thing) left to go right and vice versa. Then weighing about 20 tons and proceeding at a stately 3mph it takes an age to respond to any directions. The rudder (the bit in the water) is also relatively small and makes that tougher still.

Assuming you are on a straight bit, you don’t just hold the tiller still, you are constantly moving it just to try to keep the boat going straight and sometimes (quite often in fact) you move it and nothing responds.

All of these things can happen in a change project. You give instructions and nothing happens; you try again, harder this time and they do too much! You are constantly having to correct course just to get to where you thought you were headed.

From the outside it may look effortless but you are working all the time to achieve even simple progress.

Barging About: Llangollen Canal – Day 3

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

It is amazing how quickly unfamiliar becomes familiar. Four people squeezed into a confined space, in a strange environment and you soon find yourself adopting roles and ‘owning territory’.

Yesterday I was handed the tiller as the barge needed to navigate a series of bends and bridges, it was the equivalent of giving a learner driver their first drive on the M25!

It is also amazing how the scenery changes so much from one stretch to the next, especially when you consider we didn’t travel 10 miles. One minute woodland, the next, beautiful hills.

Today, by pure chance I got to ‘drive’ the same stretch, including some very tricky bridges and passing manoeuvres. It is fascinating to watch ‘learning by doing’ in action and just how effective it is.

Barging About: Llangollen Canal – Day 2

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Slept peacefully and woke to a field covered in mist and the sun striking the flowering hawthorn. Performed a version of the vertical limbo in the shower and then first duty (after tea-making) nipple greasing, 3 full turns to keep the engine happy!

Fill up the forward water tank (for ballast) and then through our very first lock. A brilliant piece of engineering and ingenuity. Scary how many ways you can c@ck it up!

We reached Ellesmere in baking hot weather, and after a wander round the town wondered why we’d left the peace and beauty of the water!

Barging About: Llangollen Canal – Day 1

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

We set out at 7am, only to discover the M25 was already fouled up, but soon enough we were speeding on our way, enjoying the sunshine. We stopped off at Shrewsbury for lunch and what a fabulous surprise that was, full of beautiful Tudor buildings and all manner of narrow alleyways.

We picked up our home for the next 5 days which was a 50′ steel barge about 7′ wide, weighing approx 20 tons. The boat man spent 30 min telling us how to drive the thing. I can repeat it verbatim “Blahdee bladee bla..“. I hadn’t quite realised my total inability to take on board complex information auditorily. How often in life do we give instructions without finding out whether the other person can understand and retain the information?

Within 5 min of setting off we were crossing Thomas Telford’s famous aqueduct 120′ in the air above the river Dee and the most amazing scenery. Stunning views and an incredible, visionary solution for moving steel and coal out of Wales. We’d never fund it these days.

About half an hour on and we’ve left all the other boats and are pottling along under a green canopy.

Two tunnels later, one 500 yds. long, an amazing achievement before heavy machinery and a huge investment, we moored for the night in splendid isolation (till some numpty decided to join us!). A beautiful curry later and an early night.. Zzzzz