Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ellesmere to Whixhall Moss Junction

Both of us were happy to be on the move again, even if It looked as If It would rain.  Fortunately the rain held off until we moored up.  The same boats we noticed on the way up to Llangollen more than a month ago were moored on the downstream side of Blackwater Meadow Marina.  None are showing winter mooring permits but it's not as if they are are taking up all the "good" moorings close to the canal and town facilities.  We did wonder how much longer one of them would remain afloat.

One boat followed us out of Ellesmere, but only as far as the meres.  We carried on, passing only one other boat near Bettisfield and we eventually moored just short of Whixhall Moss Junction.  Jan was happy as the TV reception has gone from 20 to 200 channels.

I went for a local walk.  Initially it was around Whixhall Moss   This is the largest of the four local peat bogs.  I walked out into the middle and took a 360° photo using the panoramic feature on Jan's camera.

 You might notice two things in the above photo.  First it looks flat and featureless, you might also notice the same tree is at the far left and right.
On entering the moss the first thing I was reminded of were the principles of camouflage, shape, shine, spacing, silhouette, colour.  If you look in the next photo you may see what I mean.

 Notice the bracken is in straight rows!  The entire surface of the moss has been altered by humans.  The word moss is the local term for a peat bog.  These were formed when ancient shallow meres filled with sphagnum moss.  The moss can hold up to 26 times its own volume in water which is why it's a bog.  I knew peat was cut and dried for solid fuel.  What I hadn't realised was it also has acidic properties and has been used for centuries to assist in the healing of wounds.  In the UK peat cutting was a protected employment during the last two world wars.

 The former Cambrian Railway cuts through the western side of Whixhall Moss.  The raised alignment can still be seen.

The remains of a former peak processing plant is also in this area.  Some of the cladding on the building is colour bonded steel which suggests the plant was still working until more recent times.

I followed one of the drainage ditches west going back towards the canal.  As you would expect the water had a waxy red look about it.  I've seen similar water in NZ peat bogs.
I wanted to see if the water discharged into the canal.  I suspected it didn't as it would reduce the water quality.  When I reached the canal I could see the water went under the canal through a culvert.

You may have noticed the canal is higher than the peak bog.  Actually the canal also crosses the moss.  It must have been an interesting engineering problem designing a water tight trough across a bog.  today the sides of the canal are lined with heavy sheet piling and I suspect behind the piling and on the base of the canal is puddling clay.

Somewhere along the way we cruised out of England (Ellesmere) and into Wales.  We then passed back into England crossing the Moss.

With time on my hands I then walked down the Press Branch and took a few photos of  Whixhall Marina.

We've now spent four years on the cut and some of the boats in the marina look familiar!


DougF said...

I thought I would have a peek at your post and found you are not quite at the pinnacle of your form in your battle with the automatic correction function.

Tom and Jan said...

Yes Doug. I'm currently having to write it directly into the blog as Live Writer isn't working. But it was also proof read by the boss. 😉

nb Chuffed said...

You can always type the text in Word (or other wordprocessor) then copy and paste into blogger. I did that the last time Livewriter stopped working. Doesn't necessarily help with spelling though ....
Best wishes

Tom and Jan said...

Oh dear.... another of my excuses shot to hell! :-)