Thursday, 30 June 2011

Parking for a pie

I'm a sucker for a pork pie. Michael Pearson's entertaining guide to the Welsh Waterways speaks highly of Vermuelen's pork pies baked fresh each day at their Ellesmere premises so the lunch menu was taken care of!
The Ellesmere Arm, unlike that in unfortunate Whitchuch, runs right to the heart of the town. And there's a new Tesco in the canal basin, facing the evocative but sadly decayed Shropshire Canal Company warehouse and a preserved loading crane . So naturally it was choked with boats but there's always room for a little'un like Star and we crept all the way to the end where there was indeed just enough room to moor.
A five minute walk took me to the pie shop and lunch was a substantial pie (they sell them by weight incidentally) with superb crusty pastry, rich with meat and tasty jelly. The jam doughnuts I bought for 'afters' were, I have to admit not in the same league sadly.
Ellesmere is a charming, slightly sleepy small town. It hasn't the same sizeable houses and large churches as can be found in Whitchurch and perhaps the small, manageable nature of its buildings is the reason why they are better preserved than the other's.
It does't take long to wander round the amiable streets but when you venture a little further and discover the Mere a whole new side of the place is revealed. This huge lake, surrounded by trees and beautifully kept gardens and lawns has the feel of a genteel Thames-side park with its steam day launch, tea room and small visitor centre. It was alive with visitors - no wonder the town has so many restaurants, tea rooms and, of course, such a superb pie shop.
At five p.m., just as the increasing numbers of hire boaters were arriving to tie up for a night at one of the local pubs or restaurants we fired up and headed off for another late evening session. On a sunny evening, it's quite the best time to be afloat; you can have the canal almost to yourself. Tonight we're tied up somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a mile or two after the junction with the Montgomery Canal. And just 14 miles from Llangollen.

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