Welcome to the latest edition where you’ll find a a roundup of the latest waterway news, coronavirus-related reminders, news of our winter stoppage consultation, an article on how to prevent the spread of non-native species, save water and, if you’ve got some spare time on your hands, why not test your canal knowledge and take a virtual cruise.
As you may notice, with this latest edition, we’ve returned to the pre-lockdown format and to a fortnightly frequency. Life on the cut is slowly starting to resemble what it used to be so we thought Boaters’ Update should do too.
While many things have started to return to normal we know there is considerable frustration for most leisure boaters at not yet being able to stay on your boat overnight and hence only able to enjoy very restricted use of the navigation.
We continue to press Government about this as it seems to us to present very low risk of virus transimission – especially when non-essential shops and major attractions like zoos are now able to open - but there continues to be no confirmation about the timing for the resumption of overnight stays on boats (other than if you’re living aboard as your main residence) in either England or Wales.
Previously the Government has said that, as part of the recovery strategy, and if all the ‘tests’ are being met, then in Phase 3, from 4 July, we could see camping resume in England - which would regard as also giving consent to staying overnight on a boat. We will of course keep you updated as soon as we receive any further information.
Below you’ll find a a roundup of the other latest waterway news, a summary of coronavirus-related reminders, news of our winter stoppage consultation, an article on how to prevent the spread of non-native species, save water and, if you’ve got some spare time on your hands, why not test your canal knowledge and take a virtual cruise.
In this edition:
Recently you may have seen that:
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 anything that’s happening that may affect you if you’re planning on a cruise this weekend:
When any 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 for a cruise. The tech savvy among you may already know that you can set up your smartphone to notify you if a notice is issued for a canal or river that you’re interested in. For those that didn’t know, check out this guide to setting it up.
If you have any questions about a specific closure then just get in touch.
As boaters start to return to the waterways now’s a good time to remind ourselves of what boaters can do to prevent the spread of non-native species.
Animals and plants from around the world have been introduced to Britain by people for hundreds of years. Many are harmless but 10-15% aren’t and become invasive – harming the environment and impacting the economy, while some can even pose a risk to our health and the way we live.
On our waterways Japanese knotweed and signal crayfish cause serious damage to structures, floating pennywort blocks navigation, and giant hogweed can cause harm to people.
Invasive non-native species (INNS) come with a considerable cost to control them. We have to control their growth and repair the damage they cause. Some, such as Japanese knotweed, can seriously increase the complexity and cost of a simple maintenance job. Sometimes we also have to put in place special measures or restrictions such as temporarily closing a navigation so we can clear away something that shouldn’t be there which, for you as a boater, can bring added frustrations.
As you may know the spread of many INNS is due to human activity. This can be as seeds, young animals or bits of plant on people’s clothes, equipment and boats; or through the dumping of plants in the wild. Often it’s done without even noticing.
Of course, it is difficult to clean a boat of INNS as it usually stays on the water. That said, there are some general rules you can follow while moving around and especially if you go on to other bodies of water. You can help stop the spread with the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ philosophy:
If you ever do take an INNS out of its habitat, under the law it is illegal to put it back. This applies even if that INNS is common in the area. An INNS taken out of its habitat must be placed in a location that prevents it getting back into that habitat or another e.g. floating pennywort will quickly dry out if left on dry land and Himalayan balsam will quickly die if pulled out and placed on a hard surface. With animals there is no requirement or expectation to dispatch them, just to stop them spreading or returning to the water.
Following the sunniest Spring on record for the UK and driest May on record in England we need your help to protect water levels around the network.
Most boaters already help by taking a few simple steps:
Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at the Canal & River Trust said: “Whilst water levels for most of the network currently look reasonably healthy, the exceptionally dry spring is a reminder of the important role boaters play in helping to make the water that’s available last. When you’re out cruising you can make the best use of the water available by sharing locks where possible and ensuring paddles are fully closed once you’ve passed through – with a few exceptions that are signposted locally. Please make sure gates are fully open as pushing them open with your boat can damage the gate lining and increase leakage.”
In the North West, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal depends on a regular supply of rainfall throughout the year to replenish its resources and the last three exceptionally dry months have depleted water levels. The Leeds & Liverpool, and Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals, have also been affected by maintenance and repair works at key reservoirs and, despite upgrades over the winter and arrangements with the Environment Agency, all three canals are delaying their post-lockdown reopening until Monday 6 July to preserve water.
Jon continues: “Our operational and water management teams are working hard to conserve enough water now to ensure the boats can move during the peak holiday months of July and August. On 6 July, the Leeds & Liverpool, Peak Forest, and Macclesfield canals will be fully open to navigation but with defined opening times, which can be found in our stoppage notices. I’d like to thank boaters and hire boat operators in the area for their understanding and all boat owners for their ongoing help to look after our water resources.”
For more information on the restrictions visit the stoppages section of our website.
We are pleased to announce that we are opening the lift on Monday 6 July. Online booking (only) will be available from next Friday, 26 June. We would like to take this opportunity to thank boaters for their patience during this time.
Our work behind the scenes continues and we can’t wait to welcome our local community, boaters, day visitors and volunteers back as soon as possible.
Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering (when coronavirus permits), donating, or just picking up the odd piece of discarded litter. In whatever form your volunteering takes place we’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you. Your support helps make life better by water.
As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, and life better by water, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:
We are building a vast library of canal-related films, images, interactive content and stories for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own sofa.
Of course, while some might opt for the palliative effects of a virtual cruise on the Grand Union, others might want a bit more of a challenge – perhaps along the lines of this canal-related crossword. Either way, there’s likely to be something to pique your interest!
Last date edited: 19 June 2020
Think of this blog as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers, as well as important safety announcements and upcoming events.See more blogs from this author