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Thursday, 22 October 2015

#175 Sun Inn, Llangollen, Denbighshire : 2007 to 2014

As previously mentioned, we don't get to Llangollen very often, so we do like to have a look around.
Our first visit was on the evening of Friday 31st August 2007 and we only popped in for a pint. As I recall it was a typical local boozer which are all too rare these days - then it was only a couple of months after the Smoking Ban had come in!

We were back in Llangollen on the evening of Saturday 19th April 2014 and we decided to retrace our steps along the A5 to see what pubs were still there.
We didn't go in this time because the music was a bit loud (and we're becoming old gits who don't like music that's too noisy!!) and they don't do food. I was, however, pleased to see that it had survived, almost completely unchanged in seven years.

It seems to be thriving as a music venue - here's a link for more information.

Monday, 5 October 2015

#174 Hatton Arms (aka The Waterman), Hatton, Warks : 1998 to 2014

As any regular narrowboater will know the lock flight at Hatton on the Grand Union Canal is a daunting, but magnificent challenge. At the top of the hill overlooking the flight sits the Hatton Arms (for many years called The Waterman) which is a welcome sight after several hours hard work coming up the locks or a last chance for refreshment before the arduous journey down the hill!
As far as I can determine this was my first ever visit to The Waterman although we'd passed through Hatton Locks several times in the previous 18 years of canal travelling. This was at lunchtime on Friday 26th June 1998. As usual I don't really recall the visit, but I do remember that it has always been a bit of a more upmarket pub that has always served food.

We paid another visit that year at lunchtime on Friday 11th September 1998, but I don't have a photo for that visit!

Our next visit was at lunchtime on Friday 31st May 2002. The only photo I have is a view from the canal looking up the hill to the pub which you will see below.

We were next at The Waterman at lunchtime on Saturday 16th August 2003.
You may have noted that, so far we'd always stopped here on a Friday. This is because the top of Hatton Locks is about half a day's boating away from our moorings at that time, in Lapworth, making The Waterman, potentially, our last stop on the way home and the first stop on the way out (if we started early enough!) On this occasion it was at the start of a journey that took us to Leicester.

Our next visit was on Friday 1st June 2007, again a lunchtime 'pit stop'!
The Waterman had undergone somewhat of a makeover since our last visit and was one of the first pubs I recall having the pastel exterior that is so common these days. Although the hanging sign still shows a kingfisher! (I also find the 'Canalside Pub' description somewhat amusing as you will see from the later pictures!)

Inside it had gone more upmarket, so much so that you couldn't buy a simple ham sandwich, even though they possessed all of the ingredients and you could order a ham ploughman's!

We were back again, twice, two years later.
This was at lunchtime on Saturday 23rd May 2009 at the start of a short trip around the Midlands. Not much had changed, but the kingfisher was no more!

We returned on the evening of Friday 11th September 2009 after an epic 6 hour afternoon journey from the Two Boats at Long Itchington. That's just the 33 locks, including the 21 at Hatton which we did in 1 hour 55 minutes. This must be a record for a 3-man crew! (I was steering, so I did all the difficult bits!!)

Our next visit marked the end of an era, it was on the evening of Friday 4th November 2011 at the start of what turned out to be our last journey on Emma Jane.
It was also the end of another era as this was our last visit before the name changed.

In the era after Emma Jane, we hired boats around the country which enabled us to visit parts of the canal system we'd never been able to visit previously. However, we were back again at lunchtime on Sunday 28th September 2014.
And what a transformation! Now called the Hatton Arms it had become the full gastropub and was largely unrecognisable compared to the days as The Waterman. However, despite my misgivings, it turned out to be much better than the previously average service offered by The Waterman in its later years!

Earlier, I promised you the view of this 'Canalside' pub, from the canal - here it is over the years.
May 2002

June 2007

May 2009

September 2014
It isn't a particularly long walk up the hill to the pub, but is it close enough to call it 'canalside' - I'm not so sure.