Welcome to the latest edition where you'll find out how we've been getting out on the cut to find out what makes a great boating experience, an eco-mooring zone in London and where we've removed thousands of tonnes of silt... Enjoy!
After banging on about not enough rain for most of the summer I, along with a fair number of the Trust’s boating team, got our comeuppance earlier this week while cruising the Dudley No. 2 Canal.
We were out on the cut as part of our Boating Buddies initiative which helps us understand boaters’ perspectives and what we need to do to make each cruise as rewarding as possible. You can read more about this in the first article (along with reports from other buddy experiences around the country).
You’ll also be able to learn more about an eco-mooring scheme in London, dredging on the River Weaver, and the regular roundup of other boating news, stoppages and events. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition then please drop me a line.
In this edition:
Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
Below I’ve picked out some highlights to see and do over the next fortnight. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network: visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.
As mentioned in the intro, earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting up with the Coombeswood Canal Trust for a cruise on the Dudley No. 2 Canal.
We were made very welcome and by the end of the day we didn’t even notice the omnipresent rain. Of course, we weren’t there just for a jolly! It gave us a great opportunity to expand our ‘network knowledge’ and get a better grasp of the specific challenges of boating in the Black Country.
It’s not only the boating team who’ve been getting out with boaters. Colleagues from around the country have taken to the cut with a boating buddy to further their own boating knowledge so that they are better able to help create a great boating experience. Here are just a few examples of how this initiative is helping us improve our understanding of boaters’ needs:
Seán McGinley, Regional Director – Yorkshire & North East
“As part of getting to know the Yorkshire & North East waterways, I had the pleasure of spending the day onboard the Kennet as it cruised from Skipton to Greenberfield on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. In addition to seeing a beautiful part of the waterway, I had the opportunity to hear first-hand from those using it; to learn about its history and the challenges boaters face. Being given the opportunity to helm the (very) wide beam Kennet for a few miles was daunting but under expert supervision I, the Kennet, and the canal survived intact.
“Although I have worked on the waterways for 16 years, the Leeds & Liverpool was my first experience of seeing a large number of hire boats using a canal, and it was great to see so many people out and about enjoying the waterways, some of them for the first time. The variety of the canals around the country is a wonder and the slight differences mean you never stop learning; for example, the ‘up and over’ paddles were new to me and took a bit of getting used to. I also had the beauty of the countryside around me, travelling along the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, an amazing backdrop to the canal. Huge thanks to my hosts!”
Anthony Tudor, IT specialist
“Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to my boating buddies for being so welcoming, plus they were so kind as to offer us lunch when I forgot to pack mine…and make cake! They were great at sharing all the boating experiences they have had travelling across our network.
“I had a great time steering the narrowboat and especially operating the locks. There is so much I didn’t realise that you must know to get a narrowboat from A – B, it was a real eye-opening experience that I would though thoroughly recommend!”
Sylvia Edwards, Montgomery Canal Community Development Officer
“It was a real pleasure, with wonderful hospitality, to get out with my boating buddy. It was great to learn about their experiences and challenges as a boater – we were given lots of food for thought to take back to the office and colleagues.
“It was a most enjoyable experience and we learnt a lot, especially about operating locks! I will definitely recommend the ‘boating buddy’ day to colleagues because it gave me an excellent insight in to what makes for a great cruise on the canal.”
As you can read, the Boating Buddy scheme is helping us get first hand experience of what your life as a boater is like and what we need to do to make every cruise a great experience.
So, whether you’re a year round boater available to take Trust staff out over the winter months or would like to take part next spring you can sign up to be a ‘buddy’ by filling in this form. Thanks!
It’s been hard to miss media coverage about air quality – just a few days ago Bath proposed a £9 clean air charge for motor vehicles in its city centre. It’s not only local authorities setting about tackling air pollution. National government is also increasingly committed to measures to reduce air pollution in all cities.
While research shows that the impact of boat emissions is minimal in comparison to pollution from road traffic, efforts to reduce it can benefit those most at risk from engine fumes - boaters themselves. With this in mind, and in partnership with Islington Council, we are creating an ‘eco-mooring zone’ for visiting boats between York Way and Danbury Street on the Regent’s Canal.
The new ‘eco-mooring zone’ will enable boaters to reduce their reliance on using their engines for energy and to embrace a greener way of life. With grant funding from Defra secured, alongside our own contributions and Islington Council’s, we will now work together to implement the scheme, including defining the area the eco-mooring zone will cover, with plans for the site to go live in October 2019. There will then be a transition period of a further two years, during which there will be no running of diesel engines or generators permitted on site, and a progressive encouragement for boaters mooring here to move from burning of solid fuels to electricity for their heating and cooking.
Embracing green initiatives
Ros Daniels, regional director for London and the South East, said: "Many boaters are keen to embrace green initiatives and often have already established a smaller environmental ‘footprint’ as they pursue a low impact way of life. However, some urban areas can present particular challenges.
"In Islington, the ‘funnel’ effect created by the canyon around the Islington Tunnel section of the Regent’s Canal means that noise and fumes can have a greater impact than in other areas. The new eco-mooring zone will significantly reduce these problems, as well as giving boaters the opportunity to increase their use of mains electricity as an energy source.
"While the impact of canal boats on air quality is minimal when compared to other sources of pollution, we appreciate that the local effects can be perceived as a problem and we are pleased to work with Islington Council and, with Defra’s support, to introduce this new facility over the next year."
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: "Islington is the most densely-populated borough in the country and the boating community are an important part of that vibrant mix. At the same time there are high levels of air pollution across Islington, making this a very serious issue for every one of us – it is literally a matter of life and death.
"The potential for bringing cleaner power to the canal is an exciting and ground-breaking development that will surely benefit boat owners and all those who use and enjoy the canal and towpaths, as well as neighbours in the immediate surroundings.
"While recognising the challenges for some boat owners in leaving diesel generators and solid fuel burners behind in favour of electricity, the benefits for all of using a cleaner, greener fuel are clear.”
Commitment to eco-mooring
During the transition period there will be ongoing work with the boating community to identify the support required to move fully to electrical power. Along with Islington Council we will act to support this, including offering training and technical advice.
Towards the end of the transition period, in 2021, there will be an evaluation of the progress made ahead of the implementation of the full restrictions planned for the eco-mooring zone. This will include looking at the wider availability of electric charging infrastructure across London’s waterways, the impact of tighter restrictions on boaters and the use of these moorings, on local air quality measures, and the wellbeing of local residents.
The commitment to an eco-mooring zone is part of our London Mooring Strategy, which was developed in consultation with boaters to address the unique challenges, and opportunities, of boating in the capital.
The River Weaver Navigation has had the equivalent weight of 20 million bricks removed (more than enough, if laid end to end, to go from Anderton to Ankara) thanks to our major dredging programme. The extensive, just-finished, five-month project was to deepen a two mile stretch of the river from Saltersford Locks, north of Weaverham to Anderton Boat Lift, near Northwich.
One of the beneficiaries of the deeper river is the newly restored Daniel Adamson ‘The Danny’ steam ship, the former flagship of the Manchester Ship Canal, which now offers passenger trips along the River Weaver. The enlarged channel will also give a major boost to a new boat and ship repair business, Northwich Drydock Company, which took over a former commercial boatyard at Hunts Lock in 2017.
The £850,000 project builds on previous dredging work at Dutton Locks, near Acton Bridge, to carve out a deeper channel from the Weaver’s confluence with the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey at Runcorn.
Spot dredging over the summer has resulted in the removal of around 30,000 cubic metres of silt and mud, weighing a jumbo-sized 40,000 tonnes. Next year we plan to continue the phased dredging programme by deepening the navigation at the confluence with the River Dane and down to Hunts Lock, south of Northwich.
Duncan Davenport, customer operations manager, said: "This is an incredibly important development in maintaining the River Weaver as a navigation. Like all rivers, it silts up over time, so the job of keeping the waterway open for boats of varying sizes is a constant challenge.
"We are particularly pleased to be working in partnership with the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society to link their Heritage Lottery Funded-ship with our HLF funded-Anderton Boat Lift.
"Widening and deepening the river channel will also enable larger coastal vessels to travel up the River Weaver to use the drydock, paint shed and boatyard services provided by the new entrepreneurial Northwich Drydock Company. It’s great to see the old boatyard being brought back into use and we are keen to support this dynamic, fledgling business as much as we can. We look forward to the fantastic sight of watching ‘The Danny’ and other vessels becoming regular visitors to this beautiful waterway."
Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:
As someone who’s out, 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 seriously 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. If you have any questions about a specific closure then you’ll find the email addresses for our regional offices on our contacts page.