2016 Adventure

We enjoyed the narrow boat adventure so much last year that we resolved to do it again the next year.

We made reservations with the Cambrian Cruisers on the Mon & Brec canal in Wales for two reasons.
1.There are only 6 locks on the canal, and
2. their boats have a living area with comfortable leather chairs. Last year the boat just had a dinette for evening relaxation.


Of course, the months from November to July went smoothly, but two weeks before our departure, the hangar was struck by lightning. No fires or major problems...just several inconveniences that causes lots of frustration.

Finally August 4 arrived and we had 'all our ducks in a row' and flew a United Dreamliner to London Heathrow.

This was the first time we had flown on the Dreamliner and found it to be the most comfortable airliner we have been on. A few interesting things about the Dreamliner....

In flight, the wings flex 10 feet....and they look very skinny....I suppose this is the first engineering step to mimicing birds flapping their wings.

Also, the windows are large and have electronic shades, so the pilot or system can darken them all to provide a cabin for sleeping. The only problem is that hi-tech stuff DOES fail, and the flight attendant told us that they have rubber mats to cover the windows when the electronics fail.

The last interesting tidbit we discovered is that the plane has a window-less upper deck that the crew uses for sleeping quarters on overnight flights.

Friday August 5.

We checked into the Crowne Plaza Heathrow where we had stayed last year and were pleased to find that five of the staff with whom we had become acquainted last year were still on the staff. We discovered a long time ago that getting acquainted with the staff can provide added benefits.

August 9

We got our Avis car yesterday and today we head to Cardiff. Unfortunately, 10 minutes out, our GPS died and we discovered that all three power outlets in the car are not functional, so back to Avis for a Lexus SUV with built-in GPS. Of course, trying to use the dang unit, the language switched to Russian, and, of course, the 115 page user's manual has no mention of selecting languages....AND...no way to turn it off to reset. I went online to the Lexus forum and found a way to reset the unit....pull the fuses!

Fortunately we had made acquaintance with one of hotel desk clerks, who knew Russian and he reset the GPS to English. In conversation we discovered that several years ago he lived just north of Houston and was a ReMax agent....AND KNEW FRANK DECICO, our neighbor at Covey Trails, who had the forsight to buy the Texas franchise for ReMax when it first started.

Jess, our waitress last night, also lived in Houston with her mother for a short while a couple years ago.



This is the setting for the first night on the canal. The mountain range is called the Brecon Beacons.

This was our hotel for the next 2 weeks....6.5' wide and 45' long. We are moored at the Brecon Basin which is at the top of the canal. It is just two blocks from the center of town, which is understandable because it was built to haul cargo from Newport .
It just so happens that there was a music festival in town and we could enjoy it just sitting on the bow of the boat sipping wine.

.....Just a bit about the canal...

Having been built before the railroads, the barges were towed by horses, so there is a path along one side. The section of the canal we traversed had 68 bridges like this one...

...so going back and forth, we negotiated 136 of them...

What FUN!

Twice we had dinner at the Royal Oak. It is a 400 year old pub/inn along the canal.

This is an electric lift bridge which carries vehicle traffic...and how it works..

1. Tie the boat to the bollards on the bank.
2. Run across the bridge and close the gates to stop traffic.
3. Run to the control box and raise the bridge.
4. Run back to the boat and motor to the other side.
5.Jump off the boat and tie it to the bollards on the other side.
6. Run back to the control box and lower the bridge.
7. Run across the bridge and open the gates for the cars that have piled up.
8. Saunter back to the boat...untie and go back to cruising up the canal.

NOW!...Isn't that a FUN way to spend a vacation?!?!?!

Barry, the lock keeper, worked all five locks for us.

This is the church of St. Catwg in the village of Llangattock. It was founded in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 12th.
Fascinating to see a congregaton that has survived for such a length of time.

This was the town of CrickHowell...a mile from the canal. Took a taxi in to get some food and have dinner at the pub, The Bear.

We wondered who watered all those flowers?!?!?!?

We were moored along the canal in front of a Chinese couple's home. She had a very expansive vegetable and herb garden. Before we left, she gave us a mess of vegetables and herbs.

The town was very busy because there was a 'folk festival ' along the canal with 30,000 people in tents and RVs.

This canal is known to be one of the hardest because it is narrow, has encroaching vegetation on both sides and is shallow. More than once I had to use the poles because we were stuck in sediment 3' from the bank. Since it is so shallow, the boats churn up the mud and it is muddy all the way. It was also difficult because there were an uncountable number of sharp blind turns.

During the two weeks we had 3 days of drizzle, so we did not cruise. Even though the canal is only 33 miles long we only got down to Govilon...about half way.


This beautiful redwood was along the canal. I never knew that there were redwoods outside of California. It is about 130' high. To put it is perspective, here is a pic of it I found on the internet.

More than once we encountered kids in canoes and kayaks.

Part of the canal was cut onto the side of a mountain with 45 degree slopes on each side. It is a real marvel that engineers were able to build this canal with the rudimentary engineering skills that they had in 1792.

This is one of the limestone kilns that were along the canal.

Apparently there had been iron mines up on the mountain and the limestone was used for some foundry process. There is an iron museum in the village and the hardware store is called the 'IronMonger'.

This is a small village along the canal. Legend has it that Shakespeare lived here when he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream.

All day Saturday there were 30 second downpours every five minutes. The patches of blue sky seemed to indicate clearing, but we decided to just relax for the day.

The one tunnel on the canal is the Ashford. It is very narrow and low as is indicated by the red and white warning sign at each end. I had to crouch down to navigate the 1000' tunnel.

This is a rendering of the Pencelli castle. The peaked building next to the tower was the chapel and still stands and is now the residence of the owner of the castle. We spoke with him and he gave us a short history lesson. He took this picture of us in front of one of the Giant Rhubarb plants in the garden. The leaves are about 7' across.

This section of the canal is part of the castle moat. It was just kinda fun knowing that we were traveling through a real moat and imagining invaders wading across 900 years ago.

During our two week cruise Wales had a heat wave blow in from the Saraha.

We saw cows drinking in the canal...

...sheep lounging by the farmer's lift gate....

...even a heron catching a fish....


After we turned in the boat, we drove to Bristol, England and checked into the Double Tree Hotel.

Much to our delight, in the next block was St. Mary's Redcliffe.

This beautiful church was built during the 13th and 14th centuries.

So what's on top of the steeple above the weather vane?

A Cross?...no...

The irony/fascination of this church is a 'small world epispode'.

I grew up in the village of Penns Park, PA....named after William Penn.
William Penn's Father was Sir William Penn, a British Admiral. He is buried in this church and his armor is mounted on the wall in the church with flags of two Dutch ships he conquered in battle.

Finally, we returned to the Crowne Plaza at Heathrow for the last two nights to spend the last day turning in the car and repacking our luggage.
Attila, the host in the Club Lounge ( we had met last year in the Club Lounge) gave Gail an arm full of amarylis.




Thanks for wading through our adventure.

We hope you found it interesting.

We certainly enjoyed living it!

Bob and Gail