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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

This post is way overdue.

Last August, Karen, the kids, and I went to Great Britain. (Click here to read about our trip on the Regent’s Canal in London.) In Scotland we made sure to visit the Falkirk Wheel.

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falkirk wheel-1

This unusual device is essentially a canal lock. It’s used to move boats between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal. Boats enter at the top or bottom, and then the whole thing rotates 180 degrees.

Tour boats operate on the canals and give visitors the chance to experience the wheel firsthand, but unfortunately it took us longer to get out of Edinburgh than we expected, and we arrived too late to take a ride. We did get to see one of the boats come along the Forth and Clyde Canal

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and enter the lock that connects the canal with the basin at the bottom of the wheel:

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Construction on the Forth and Clyde Canal began in 1768. The canal was closed in 1963 and reopened in 2001. The Falkirk Wheel began operation in 2002 and replaced a series of eleven locks that used to connect the two canals.

Here’s a brief stop-motion video showing the wheel in motion:

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The Regent’s Canal in London provides a connection between the River Thames at Limehouse Basin and the Grand Union Canal.

We took a narrow-boat tour from Camden Town to Little Venice. This short portion of the canal passes through the London Zoo, Regent’s Park, and the 270-yard-long Maida Tunnel before arriving in Little Venice. A few companies offer tours on the Regent’s Canal, but we chose to go on the Jenny Wren so we could pass through a lock, lock number 1 at Hampstead Road:

The part of the canal we visited is the oldest, opened in 1816. To this day, locks on the canal are manually operated:

The narrow boats just fit:

Here’s the view from inside lock number 1, aboard the Jenny Wren:

The canal is home to many live-aboards, with their brightly colored and decorated boats:

Not necessarily the best scenery:

But it is waterfront property:

At Little Venice there was a waterborne market and a chance to buy ice cream from a canal boat:

It was the last day for the market, and the zebra-striped boat above was preparing to head home to Stratford-upon-Avon, a two-weeks’ voyage (if I remember correctly).

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Three years ago Karen and I headed north up the Hudson River to check out the ice. This winter has been so mild, I doubt there’s much ice to look at on the Hudson. So to find ice we had to go farther—to Québec City and the St. Lawrence River.

The evening we arrived we climbed up to the Plains of Abraham for a big-picture view of the river. I don’t think you can see how cold it was, but you can see the wind on the water:

The next day we decided to get a close-up view of the ice, and we took the ferry across to Lévis. You can see the ferry at the bottom of the picture above. The ice was pretty thick, and the ferry had to push through the floes.

Some of them were big enough that the boat would shudder as it crashed into them:

Approaching Lévis:

Looking back toward Québec:

Looking at this view, I pretended I was on the deck of an Arctic icebreaker:

Québec and the Château Frontenac:

Back on the Québec side, we looked across to Lévis. Here you can see both ferries cutting paths through the ice:

A few miles to the east the St. Lawrence splits around the Île d’Orléans. The shipping channel runs to the south of the island, and the north side is allowed to ice over completely:

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