This morning started out with a 3 mile hike through the Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve. This was originally where people from the area cut peat moss by hand for fuel for their homes. They rented acre size ‘turf banks’ for their own use. Other areas were used by commercial firms. Generally to be sold to local nurseries. This practice of cutting raised bogs for peat is no longer sustainable because of the rarity of raised bogs and their wildlife. The cutting has stopped and the bogs are being restored.
It was a very pretty area with heather flowers all over. The ground was very spongy to walk on. And it was really cool to see where the sphagnum moss comes from. I buy it from Michael’s or Hobby Lobby to put in my houseplants. I wonder where theirs comes from? 🤔
Today was my turn to drive for awhile. There is most definitely a learning curve. But, once you get the hang of it, you get to enjoy the challenge. However, if you take your eye off the ball for one second, it’s crazy how quickly things go south. Generally, it’s an overcorrection in the wrong direction that fouls things up. And you find yourself talking out loud. “What the heck?” “Why are we going that way?” “Oh, crap! REVERSE! REVERSE! REVERSE!” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I think I only tried to knock Lesley, Rhonda, and Aimee off the boat a couple of times by running the front of the boat into the blackberry bushes.
We encountered our first swing bridge today. But just like the locks, these were easy to figure out. The modus operandi was to have someone hop off the boat about 100 meters before the bridge, run up, cross the bridge and get the bridge up and out of the way before the boat arrived. Then lower the bridge, run back across the bride, and hop on the boat as were were waiting on the side. We perfected this during the course of the day because we ran into several bridges. At one point, we were the first ones thru the bridge but there was a boat behind us. Debbie opened the bridge for us, and waited while the boat behind us went thru then she closed the bridge behind them. Then she jumped on their boat and when they passed us, she transferred to ours without the other boat slowing down. She’s not just a pretty face. Multi-talented, that one.
We arrived into Whitchurch, and I handed it off to Aimee since she had the experience dealing with tight quarters and parking. We pulled into Whitchurch and almost screwed up by heading down the path that was a dead end. The canal used to be much longer and ended in the middle of Whitchurch. But, it had been filled it in when the canal was no longer being used to move goods after 1939, although not officially until 1944. Not sure when they filled in the canal and the old terminus, but there are now houses build atop the old canal. I spent a lot of time on this site tracing the route of the old path because there is an old map on one side of the screen with the current google maps on the other. Pretty fascinating.
We turned the boat around in a winding hole use the same method we did in Ellesmere using a rope to help guide. Parked along the path. Thankfully we were there earlier in the day and there was plenty of parking. We went in search of a pub for food and a grocery store for dinner. It was a much longer hike than expected. But, very pretty thru the woods and along the old canal route into town.
Now, we retrace our route back to our starting point and beyond.
If the video above isn’t working, click HERE.