Marking the end of the first year of this three-year project, this fun event had plenty to do for all the family. Visitors got involved in the creation of three willow sculptures, pond dipped to uncover the canal’s hidden wildlife and took part in a heritage trail. Undoubtedly the highlight for most was the chance to take to the water on a coracle, a small traditional boat.
A band of dense fog across the Vale of York wasn’t the most welcoming start to the day, but this thankfully cleared by mid-morning. The numbers of people keen to try the coracle sailing were rather scarce at first, with many people expressing the view that they’d have a go once they saw someone else on the water! Becca, our volunteer coordinator for the Canal & River Trust, was more than happy to test out these rather small circular crafts – and once she proved that 1. they were watertight and 2. they were much more stable than you might imagine we had a constant queue of people wanting to have go.
Mikey from the Kirklees Adventurous Team (who had actually built one of the coracles) made sure everyone was safely kitted up in a lifejacket and gave instructions on how to propel the boat forward by moving one oar in a figure of eight ahead of the front of the boat. For those feeling a little stuck on the water, Mikey could give a helpful tow using a much more manoeuvrable canoe, which allowed the little ones to take to the water as well.
Most people who came along offered a helping hand to Leilah from Dragon Willow to contribute to three wildlife themed community sculptures. Our lovely new hare, heron and dragonfly sculptures will go on permanent display at Canal Head.
Phil from Eco Sapien and our new Education Volunteers showed everyone the fun of pond dipping, with many families engrossed in the quest to find the coolest species in the water! One of the highlights was this formidable looking water scorpion.
Throughout the day, families took part in the Heritage Trail at their own pace, looking for clues dotted around Canal Head to answer questions about the canal’s history. We stuck to a numeric theme, which saw people discover that there are 3 Special Sites of Scientific Interest, 9 locks, 13 bridges remaining along the canal and that the recently excavated Denison’s Warehouse stood 3 storeys high.
All in all a fun day, and a great end to the first year of the project! After many hours of organising and helping with the post lunch pond dipping rush (!) I was very pleased to take to the water myself under the watchful eye of Fraser, loyal companion of Friend Recruiter Mark. With his bright blue bandana, Fraser also managed to wag himself as photo star in the following edition of the Yorkshire Post!
Pocklington Canal – a gem in the landscape has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be restoring Church Bridge and Swing Bridge No 7, restoring the special wildlife habitats along the canal and running a series of exciting community events and activities to showcase the rich heritage of this idyllic rural East Yorkshire canal.See more blogs from this author