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Boaters’ Update 23 February 2024

Welcome to Boaters’ Update. It starts with a summary of the wide-ranging damage caused by this winter’s storms.

After that, and of particular interest to those of you renewing your boat licence from 1 April, you’ll find details of a new process that applies to all boaters.

Following on from the last edition you can then ‘meet’ your third Council representative and, finally, there’s news of advance ticket sales (and discount) for this year’s biggest inland waterway event – Crick Boat Show.

As ever, you’ll also find the list of current stoppages.

Happy boating,


P.S. Wondering what you’ll do after a lovely Sunday roast on 3 March? Wonder no more! Tune in to BBC’s Countryfile for coverage of the draining of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (among other topics)!

In this edition:

  • The cost of winter storms
  • New process for renewing boat licences
  • Meet your Council representatives (part two)
  • Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend
  • Crick Boat Show tickets on sale
  • Bits & bobs
Woman walks dog along a towpath, passing a moored narrowboat.

The cost of winter storms

There have already been five times more storms in this ‘storm season’ than the previous one. And since storm naming began in 2015, to better raise awareness of potentially dangerous weather conditions, only one year has had more (and we still have six months left as the Met Office’s ‘storm season’ runs from September to August).

As you’ll know, we’re in the thick of our winter stoppage maintenance programme so, rather obviously, the run of storms has affected some of the projects such as at Dun Mill Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal:

While the amounts of rainfall were, overall, not far off the amount we usually get in an average January, the difference was that it came in deluges and was accompanied by storm force winds.

Some boats have been damaged, and our thoughts are with those dealing with that. Needless to say, at 250-years-old, the combination of wind and torrential rain has also had a lasting impact on waterways and was felt all around the network. Most significantly, the southern and eastern regions bore the brunt with the East Midlands especially battered.

It wasn’t just a case of some towpaths being submerged. There was a wide range of damage to the network which see waterways overtopping in many areas but also larger, and more damaging, effects such as embankment slips, and culvert collapses due to the sheer volume of water.

River water levels breach its banks, with buildings flooded and trees under water.

Let’s look at some specific examples from each of our regions:

East Midlands

The River Soar had unprecedented levels, resulting in extensive flooding across Leicestershire in Leicester, Cossington, Sileby, Barrow upon Soar, Quorn, Loughborough and Zouch, with a number of boats damaged and over 300 properties flooded.

It breached again below Blue Bank lock (previously damaged during Storm Babet) and continued to erode the towpath and push the pilings over. We are aiming to complete the remedial works in March.

In Leicester, the pressure of the flood water in the pound through the city subsided, near Abbey Park, which caused pressure from another downstream source (Willow Brook) to push open the lock gates at Lime Kiln Lock. This caused the pound and Memory Lane moorings to drain. We had reports of fish in distress, but the team were on the scene and able to refill the pound and no fish came to harm. The cost to repair storm damage on the River Soar will be around £500,000, with another £75,000 needed to repair remote monitoring equipment and a bank slip on the Grand Union Canal.

London & South East

Perhaps the least affected region of all, London & South East ‘escaped’ with just widespread damage to towpaths, particularly on the southern end of the Oxford Canal. But, demonstrating what this ‘lucky’ region was contending with, Brent Reservoir (temporarily drained for repairs) rose over 1.6 metres in one night which resulted in sluice gates being manned overnight to manage the massive influx. The cost of storm repairs in the region is expected to be around £20,000, whilst weather delays at Brent Reservoir have another ‘cost’ as it is hampering statutory maintenance work and requiring additional environmental mitigations to be put in place ahead of the breeding season at this SSSI.

Storm flood water overflows a lock and submerges the surrounding towpath where the bank is barely visible beneath water.

North West

In addition to flooding, the main problem in the exposed parts of the North West were many fallen trees. That said, all the swing bridges on the River Weaver had to be temporarily closed due to flooding, with Town Bridge and Hayhurst Bridge pontoons being submerged. This meant we were unable to swing these bridges until the water had been removed and their tanks checked. Sutton Bridge had water in the main pontoon which also needed removing before being able to swing. In total, the storm repairs will cost around £14,000.

Wales & South West

Huge swathes of the Kennet & Avon Canal saw water levels inundate towpaths and overtop lock gates. With flooding extending into Newbury, we opened the lock paddles to help water escape the area.. The damage wasn’t contained just to the towpaths though. Widmead Lock wall needs repairing, widespread damage to banks in the Newbury and Burghfield area require remedial work and, with such huge flows, new, and extensive, silt deposits need removing from the eastern end of the canal. In total, an estimated £280,000 will need to be diverted to make good all of the repairs.

Storm flood water submerges a lock and surrounding fences.

West Midlands

While on a meteorological level the East Midlands suffered the worst, the West Midlands had the most substantive damage. This includes an embankment slip at the northern portal of Dunhampstead Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

Another occurred at Easenhall cutting, Brinklow, on the Oxford Canal just last week. It is a significant landslip on an 18m high cutting which has completely blocked the canal and towpath with large mature trees, soil and other debris. We're already working with our contractors to develop a plan to start to clear the large trees and debris but, as with many parts on the network, these works are in a hard to reach location making things even more complicated to resolve. Other locations have seen bywashes collapse and culverts blocked as deluge after deluge heaped more pressure on the 250-year-old network. An eyewatering £1,550,000 will need to be reallocated to repair all of the storm damage.

Yorkshire & North East

Such was the volume of rain that, even though flood gates across the region were shut, water actually overtopped some of these. Extreme weather, especially in the form of torrential rain, brings about unexpected consequences. In one case, in South Yorkshire, water from the River Don, near Doncaster, found its way into the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation. This doesn’t normally happen so we’re investigating to determine the route the water took as it may be related to a now-abandoned draw off sluice.

Once all the repairs have been made, including replacing a boom at the Tees Barrage, dredging at Beal Lock on the River Aire and multiple other instances of debris clearance, the estimated price tag is around £240,000.

A fallen tree and lumps of land in a canal.

The bottom line

When it was built, 250 or so years ago, the great canal engineers couldn’t have predicted the impact of climate change, designing a canal network to withstand the passage of time and such a prolonged onslaught of extreme weather. As climate change increasingly influences our weather patterns it is inevitable that additional vital funds will have to be raised to repair storm damage. So far this year we are estimating that the storm damage will cost around £3,250,000.

New process for renewing boat licences

A couple of months ago we announced changes to boat licence fees that will come in to effect on 1 April. This includes that boats without a home mooring will pay a surcharge on top of the standard licence price. To facilitate these changes there are, in certain circumstances, some new considerations you’ll need to take in to account when renewing your licence if you are changing your mooring status.

It may be that you have been a continuous cruiser but now have a home mooring, or you are changing from one mooring site to another. It also applies to new boaters who will have a home mooring. If any of the examples above apply when you come to renew, please update your mooring status and provide supporting evidence that can be verified before so we can renew your licence. We strongly advise you to do this at least 28 days ahead of your licence renewal date.

Narrowboat moves along the canal in dappled sunlight.

What does this mean for different boaters?

New or existing continuous cruiser

  • No confirmation is required.

New customer with a home mooring

  • You will need to provide the details of your mooring contract, which must cover the period of your licence.
  • If your boat does not have a Trust index number, you will need to register prior to being able to purchase a licence. There is a charge of £20 which will be refunded if you licence within 28 days of us accepting the evidence you have provided for your mooring.

Existing customer remaining on the same home mooring

  • You do not need to provide the details of your mooring contract when you licence, however, we may ask you for details during your licence period.

Existing customer moving to a new home mooring

  • You will need to provide the details of your mooring contract

Changing from continuous cruiser to home mooring

  • You will need to provide the details of your mooring contract, which must be for six months or more. If you pay for a monthly mooring, you can retrospectively claim a refund on the continuous cruiser surcharge if you can show six consecutive monthly mooring agreements/payments. In this case your status will remain as ‘continuous cruiser’ and you will receive a pro rata refund of paid surcharge from the date you notify the Trust of the change providing you have provided the necessary evidence.

To prepare for the additional charge for boats without a home mooring, we are in the process of updating our systems to allow customers to submit evidence of their home mooring where required.
You will be able to upload your proof of mooring status when you receive your renewal document. Further information on this process will be provided with your renewal notice. Changes made to your mooring status at the time of your licence renewal will not incur any administration charge, but changes made part way through the licence period will incur an administration charge of £30.

If the change in your mooring status has not been verified before you buy/renew your licence, there may be a delay or you may only be able to licence your boat as a continuous cruiser (once the mooring has been verified, this can be changed to home mooring and any additional charge refunded).

Line of moored boats on the towpath, surrounded by trees and greenery on a sunny day.


If you, or a boater you know, may be struggling to pay their licence fees, please get in touch. We may be able to offer you support, for example arranging flexible payment plans and signposting to relevant services such as the Waterway Chaplaincy, Local Authorities and Citizens Advice. For more information visit our vulnerable boaters page.

For more information on boat licencing please visit our dedicated webpages.

Meet your Council representatives (part two)

Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the first two, of four, Council representatives that you elected to represent licence holders? If not, please click here, and scroll down to do so! Following on from that, we now turn our attention to the third private boating representative, Scott Martin, before, Rosie Strickland, the final representative speaks to us in the next edition.

Headshot of Scott Martin

Scott Martin

How long have you been a boater?

My boating journey began 26 years ago with sailing. Over the following years I completed qualifications including an RYA Yacht Master Offshore, a number of ocean passages and a few years ago completed the Atlantic circuit, partially solo. In 2020 I fitted out my lined boat and have lived on the canals ever since.

What drew you to boating?

It was the allure of the UK's countryside, history, the freedom to move and seek adventure, coupled with the practical benefit of lowering my cost of living, that drew me to this lifestyle.

Favourite canal/river?

The Grand Union Canal captivates me for its historical significance, and the Kennet & Avon Canal for its remarkable beauty and character.

Best thing about boating?

Living in harmony with nature, right on the water, and the unique ability to move my home around are what I cherish most about boating.

Why did you apply to represent private boaters on the Trust’s Council?

My candidacy was driven by a commitment to ensure fair licensing, improved transparency, equitable mooring policies, and robust maintenance - key issues that resonate deeply with private boaters and are explained within my manifesto. Like everyone, I am frustrated when licence and mooring fees are significantly hiked (in real terms) and I don't see/feel increased value, I worry when pertinent questions remain unanswered, and I am concerned to hear so many accounts of hardships from fellow boaters. I think more could be done to better serve the licence paying community.

The sun is setting on the 15 year pre-agreed period of full Defra funding and more should have been done in preparation for future graduated reductions. Change is coming and in my view reformation of the Trust is inevitable. This is an important juncture and I want to ensure that the interests of private boaters are paramount during the transition to an increasingly self-sufficient Trust.

What do you hope to achieve over the next four years?

In the next four years, my goal is to see these commitments through, enhancing the boating experience through transparent, measurable practices and policies that reflect the needs and voices of private boaters.

What are your aspirations for the canal and river network?

My vision is a canal and river network that thrives sustainably, balancing the needs of different boaters, wildlife, and the environment, preserving our important national treasures for future generations.

And finally, what’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I share the boat with my fiancée, Izzy and a crazy 1yo Australian Shepherd named Hazy.

Maintenance, repair and restoration work this weekend

As someone who’s out on, or by, the water more often than most, you’ll know that there are times when we need to fix things that unexpectedly break. So, below, you’ll find a list of navigations that have ongoing restrictions that may affect you if you’re planning to get out on the water this weekend:

When restrictions to navigation happen, we get them up on to our website as soon as we can – always best to have a scan before you set off.

If you have any questions about a specific closure, or spot an error in our system, please get in touch.

Terence CanalArts at Crick Boat Show

Crick Boat Show tickets on sale

Advance tickets are now on sale for the 2024 Crick Boat Show. If you buy in advance you’ll save 10% on the entry price. The event, which takes place at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, will be held across the late May Bank Holiday Weekend 25-27 May, with an exclusive Trade & Preview Day on Friday 24 May, sponsored by Haven Knox-Johnston.

The Show remains Britain’s biggest inland waterways event and is organised by Waterways World in association with us and Crick Waterside and Marina, and is expected to attract over 26,000 visitors.

As well as being the canal world’s biggest marketplace, showcasing the inland waterways industry with over 200 exhibitors, Crick Boat Show offers a fantastic day out with more than 30 new boats to view. There are also used boats, free boat trips, free advice seminars on boat ownership, technical masterclasses, a live music festival sponsored by Aquavista, a beer festival sponsored by LeeSan, and a large variety of food and drink stalls.

Peter Johns, Publisher of Waterways World and show director, says: “We’re looking forward to welcoming people to our 2024 Crick Boat Show, to be held over the Whitsun May Bank Holiday weekend. Crick Boat Show is firmly established as the top destination for waterways enthusiasts looking to buy a new boat, upgrade or improve their existing boat, for newcomers wanting to get afloat for the first time and for those seeking a day out by the water.

“Now in its 25th year, the Show hosts the largest display of new inland boats, both narrowboats and wide beams, and for three days it becomes Britain’s largest chandlery when over 200 exhibitors bring together the complete range of equipment and materials for inland boating.

“Our ‘Trade & Preview Day’ is exclusively designed for those who want to speak with boating related exhibitors – from boat builders to equipment suppliers. Friday 24 May offers a maximum of 1,000 pre-booked visitors the opportunity to talk in-depth with these companies and to see the boats before everyone else.”

Matthew Symonds, national boating manager at the Trust, adds: “Every year Crick Boat Show, the UK’s biggest inland waterways festival, celebrates Britain’s fantastic network of canals and rivers.

“We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Crick for a fantastic day out by the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line in the Northamptonshire countryside. Visitors to the Canal & River Trust Marquee can discover more about the boating, leisure, health and wellbeing opportunities our waterways offer people today, and the work of the Trust to maintain the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in its care.”

The Show will open from 10am until 6pm on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May. And until 5pm on Monday 27 May. On Trade & Preview Day, Friday 25 May, the Show will be open from 12 noon until 6pm for Preview Day Visitor ticket holders, and from 10am to 6pm for pre-registered Trade visitors.

Evening entertainment will run from 7.30pm to 11.30pm on Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May. All advance tickets will be sent out in May and delivery is free of charge. Advance tickets can be ordered online or by phone until noon on Friday 17 May 2023.

For more information and to book tickets, camping pitches and moorings, visit or call 01283 742970, Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Crick Boat Show 2018

Bits & bobs

  • Are you a happy snapper? Super with a SLR? Or just a point and capture type of photographer? Whichever category you fall into you might like to enter River Canal Rescue’s calendar competition. Running until 31 May, 12 winners will be chosen and their photographs will be included in its 2025 calendar with the sales being in aid of Cancer Research. Send your marine, river and canal-based photographs, anything from boating and heritage through to landscape and wildlife – as long as it is water based and your own image. Portrait pictures are of course accepted, but there is a preference for landscape if possible. Images can be emailed to [email protected].
  • Although a few months away, we’d love to see you at our North West User forum on 7 May. We want to share with you highlights of the work we are doing across the region including what work we have been doing, what has gone well and the projects we have coming up this year. We will also be providing an update on our financial position and how it’s affecting the Trust. You’ll get the chance to pose questions during these sessions too. Additionally, designated tables will be set up for various topics, including boat licensing, volunteering opportunities and customer support. To book, please visit our Eventbrite page.

Happy boating,


Last Edited: 23 February 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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