‘We’re still open’ – that’s the message from businesses in Maesbury in Shropshire alongside a section of the Montgomery Canal that has been temporarily cut off whilst emergency repairs are carried out to the canal at Aston Locks near Queen’s Head.
One of the companies, a horse drawn trip boat based at Maesbury, has stepped up its operations to offer even more cruises to enable people to continue to enjoy a boat trip on this particularly idyllic section for the duration that it is cut off from the rest of the canal network.
The canal is over 200 years old and the leak in the canal wall at Aston Locks highlights the challenge we face in looking after the waterway. The repair work is in the middle of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has to be carefully planned to minimise the impact on the environment and animal life.
Now visitors to the area and boaters arriving at Queen’s Head can walk along the towpath, past the closed Aston Locks, to enjoy a trip to Maesbury on the canal boat ‘Countess’ pulled by Cracker the horse.
Tim Barker of Bywater Cruises said: “We are delighted to be able to extend our service while this essential repair is being carried out so that people do not miss out on this very beautiful section of canal that is currently cut off.
“In this day of fast cars and computers, we are proud to keep our feet firmly in the horse age. There is no better way to relax and unwind from the stress of modern living than to sit comfortably aboard our special horse drawn narrow boat and enjoy a memorable journey as you cruise through unspoilt Shropshire countryside on the quiet waters of the Montgomery canal.
“We’ve had a word with Cracker and he’s more than happy to oblige with the extra trips!”
Waterways manager Wendy Capelle said: “This is a great opportunity for people to see the rest of the canal while this emergency work is carried out. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the work, but this is a 200 year old canal and repair work needs to be carried out. It is made more difficult in this location because of the SSSI and we have to balance the work being carried out against the disturbance to the conservation area.”
The new service is operating Friday – Sunday with trips at 12noon, 2.00pm and 3.30pm although additional trips and varied timings and durations can be accommodated. Subject to demand the service could also operate on Wednesday and Thursdays. Booking is essential and further information can be found on the website: www.bywatercruises.com/news.
Until the repairs to Aston Locks are completed, more orthodox transport has also been laid on by the Navigation Inn, Maesbury, which is offering a taxi service for boaters arriving at the current temporary end of navigation at Queen’s Head.
Transport will leave Queen’s Head at 5.45pm, returning from the Navigation Inn at 9.00pm. The cost is £2.50 per person for the return seven mile trip and you will get your first drink for free (pint, 125ml glass of wine or soft drink) when enjoying a meal.
This service can only run if it has been pre booked - bookings must be made on 01691 672958 by no later than 4pm, and the service will only run with a minimum of four people. This facility will run from Tuesday - Thursday.