The original idea for coming over to Europe started about 8 months ago when my sister suggested that we rent a Canal Boat in the U.K. for my Dad. It is a trip that he had mentioned quite a few times and something that we figured he would really like. And so, for his 70th birthday Sarah, Mom and I gave him a bunch of brochures and told him to pick a route. For the last few months since we did this Dad has been excited for our trip to Wales along the Llangollen Canal.
Yesterday the family spent the day exploring more around in the Forest of Dean. My aunt does like to get out and hike around the area a lot and so her and Jane know quite a lot of the good trails to go on in the forest. After a wonder in another one of the sections near an arboretum we headed for drinks at the Speech House. The Speech house was originally created in the 1600’s as the location for the original Verderers Courts. The courts were for anyone who was caught abusing the Royal Forest (poaching or cutting wood they shouldn’t or anything deemed a hazard to the forest). It is also supposed to have been used as a Royal Hunting Lodge. Today it is a hotel/B&B/Restaurant although the Verderers Courts still do happen here and if necessary they can displace the restaurant operations if necessary.
Afterwards we headed off to another part of the forest. It seems that the area really does have a hold on my family as when he was young, Dad came down to the area to do quite a lot of caveing. An area that he spent a lot of time with friends, he wanted us to see it but unfortunately it has been made into a bit of a tourist trap. It was sad to see as it was nothing like what he remembered.
So finally to today. We have driven up to Trevor in Wales and picked up our boat for the week. It is a 65 foot narrow boat with 3 berths, 2 bathrooms and galley. It is very well laid out and we are a little surprised at its length. It takes some getting used to while piloting it as it is single engined and tiller operated. You have to turn earlier than you might think and stop turning much earlier then you feel you need to in order to keep it going moderately straight. The canal we are going on at the moment is quite busy (There is only one pick up and drop off day a week) and very narrow. There are many areas that are only as wide as one boat so you have to hope that no one is coming the other way when you make your move to go through. There are also a few tunnels and aqueducts which are also only as wide as the boat and all of this afternoon we have been adding to the scratches on the side of this thing trying to ensure that it goes generally in the direction we want it to.
The amazing thing is, you are allowed to dock just about any place along the canal. There are a few places that are labeled private but in general any place that doesn’t look too grown over is fair game. For this evening we have stopped just outside of the town of Chirk which is a nice little place on the border of England and Wales. Tomorrow we keep heading East and will see how far we get.