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Shropshire canal stretch remains open for boat rides thanks to Cracker the horse

Oswestry | News | Published:

A stretch of canal that has been cut off because of a leak further down is still open for boat rides, thanks to Cracker the horse.

Horse-drawn boat rides have been running at Maesbury, near Oswestry, for the past year, but the service has been increased throughout the summer after a section of the waterway was closed because of a leak.

Repairs are to be carried out to the canal at Aston Locks near Queen's Head, and are scheduled to start on July 20. They are expected to take six weeks.

But visitors to the area and boaters arriving at Queen's Head can walk along the towpath, past the closed locks, to enjoy a trip to Maesbury on the canal boat Countess pulled by Cracker the horse.

Tim Barker of Bywater Cruises, who runs the boat, 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 than to sit comfortably aboard our special horse-drawn narrowboat 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."

The new service is operating Friday to Sunday with trips at noon, 2pm and 3.30pm, although additional trips and different times and durations can be accommodated. Subject to demand the service can also operate on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Mr Barker: "We're just coming up to 12 months of weekend and Friday trips and we're very very pleased in the upsurge in customers.

"We were lucky to operate where we are. It's a hidden gem in Shropshire. The bookings are coming in thick and fast. Cracker is loving it. Most people fall in love with him as soon as they see him. He's great. We had his birthday in April and made him a great big carrot cake. He's a key part of the team."

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