Before heading off into the traditional mayhem of a British Bank Holiday weekend, put your feet up and have a read about our winter stoppage plans, how we can help you if you're having difficulties and head of boating, Mike Grimes's take on a busy summer.
Welcome to the last edition of this year’s summer. Meteorologically speaking, next Thursday sees the start of autumn and, going on the anecdotal feedback I’ve had from boaters, it’s been, by and large, a good summer for boating.
The weather hasn’t always been kind (and for some of us it isn’t set to be this coming Bank Holiday weekend). In his monthly column below, Mike Grimes, head of boating, reflects on some of the more noteworthy news of the summer. As always though, I’m interested in how it’s been for you so please do drop me a line to let me know whether your summer has been sublimely soothing or stubbornly stressful.
If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition, or a regular feature you think will be useful, then please get in touch. In the meantime, click on the links below to jump to the article of your choice:
- News round-up and the fortnight ahead
- Winter stoppage plans published
- Head of boating Mike Grimes’s monthly column
- How we can help you
- Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend
- Bits and bobs
Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:
- 11 Aug – Volunteers working to restore lost sections of the Swansea Canal have enlisted an unusual ally – the engineer tasked with filling in the canal back in the 1970s.
- 16 Aug – Trust staff worked through the night to carry out emergency repairs to Adderley Lock No 3 on the Shropshire Union Canal near Market Drayton.
- 18 Aug – If you’re cruising around North Wales, Cheshire or Shropshire then get your camera ready for the new photographic competition we’ve launched.
- 22 Aug – Continuing with the Welsh theme a driver ended up on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal after taking a wrong turn onto the towpath.
And if you’re wondering what you can enjoy on or by a canal this this Bank Holiday weekend then you might be interested in:
- 26 to 29 Aug – You could go along to the Albert Dock for Liverpool's newest festival - Folk Festival on the Dock - showcasing the very best in folk, acoustic and roots music.
- 27 to 29 Aug – Up to 200 boats, including leisure, trade, heritage and working narrowboats, are expected at the IWA Festival of Water at Pelsall. There’ll also be opportunities for visitors to get afloat on board trip boats and as well as a range land-based craft stalls.
- 27 & 28 Aug – At the Burnley Canal Festival there’s a huge range of activities – canoe and angling taster sessions, boat trips, live music, raft races – for the whole family.
- 28 & 29 Aug – Celebrate the bicentenary of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal with two days of festivities and entertainment (for all ages) on land and on the water at Canal Fest in Chorley.
- 3 Sep – As a boater you may have used thousands of lock gates but perhaps you’ve wondered how these mammoth structures are made? If so, head along to our Stanley Ferry workshop where we’re demonstrating how we're keeping a centuries-old tradition alive.
- 3 & 4 Sep – Want to be part of something that, as far as we know, no human has ever done before? Ever been to a silent disco? I think you may have answered ‘yes’ and then ‘no’. Well, here’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn that into a double ’yes’. The Saturday evening silent disco, where you’ll get to choose which music you listen to, is part of Camden Locks open weekend – the culmination of 3 years-worth of restoration, repair and replacement work to all eight sets of lock gates which are part of the famous and iconic Camden Locks, on the Regent’s Canal.
- 4 Sep – You can make a weekend of it if you go along to Camden Locks as, on the Sunday, you can go along to the Angel Canal Festival for a wide mix of live music, arts & crafts and a children’s fun fair, among others.
Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.
As mentioned in the intro, we’re less than a week away from autumn so what better way to look forward to Christmas (can you believe Selfridges is already selling Christmas decorations?!?) than to start your planning for winter cruising.
As regular boaters will know we work year-round to keep the waterways open for navigation. That said, we do try to concentrate most of the bigger jobs into the winter period when they are likely to affect fewer boaters – some winter boats in marinas, some continuous cruisers take up winter moorings and so on.
The hardier among you generally only stop cruising when the ice gets too thick (and don’t have an ice-breaking bow!). So, when putting together our plans for the ‘big jobs’ we try to take into account as much of your preferences, opinion and knowledge as we can.
I won’t intricately detail each minor step but, in general terms, we’ve gone through a lengthy consultation process:
- 29 April – First version of plan published
- 29 April to 17 June – You gave us your views
- 17 June to 11 July – Project team review feedback
- 11 July – Second version of plan published
- 11 July to 5 August – You gave your views on second version of plan
- 5 August to 26 August – Project team reviews further feedback
- 26 August – Final plan published! Hooray!
As the last point in the list states, we’ve now got the final plan up on the website. So if you’re planning on some cold-weather cruising, check out the plans to make sure you know what will be happening in your area.
As the summer holiday cruising season draws to a close, Mike Grimes reflects on a busy, but fulfilling, period for the Trust’s waterways.
“My job, along with many colleagues’, is focussed on one of the most calming and soothing activities known to man or woman. Ironically, we sometimes have to work fervently to keep it that way!
“I thought, as we move into a different season, you’d be interested in just a small section (you’d be nodding off if I listed everything) of the work we’ve been doing, or involved in, over the last three months – some more fervently than others…
“For me, the busy summer really got into full swing at Crick Boat Show. I got to speak with a good number of the record crowds that the show attracted. In the North West, early summer was spent dealing with the effects of a wild winter as engineers laid the foundations for a new Elland Bridge and subsequently reopened the canal after the Boxing Day floods.
“Meanwhile, down on the Staffs & Worcs, the £1million dredging project was making good progress as shown in this video. Early July, colleagues in the South East who’d been working with the Wendover Arm Trust, announced a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to further develop plans to continue restoration.
“A few days later, news of a £159,000 maintenance project on our most southerly canal, the Bridgwater & Taunton was released. This type of planned maintenance gives us the opportunity to pre-warn boaters of potential disruption and is typical of the work that we spent £128million (an 8% increase) on in 2015/16 as detailed in our Annual Report which was published in late July.
“Then, as we moved into the final month of summer, one of those ‘fervent’, and unexpected, tasks came up. In order to keep a vital lock, on a very popular part of the network linking the north and south, operational the local team carried out emergency repairs through the night and reopened the canal as the sun rose.
“Even though the projects and work mentioned above are diverse, they really do only scratch the surface of what’s been happening this summer. As we move into autumn the planning to do it all again, but better, begins. Happy boating.”
In another contribution from the boating team, welfare officer Sean Williams talks about the work he’s been doing to help boaters in difficulty.
“More and more people are choosing to make their homes on water according to our latest boaters’ survey, with 39% of respondents describing their boat as their primary or secondary home, up from just under a third in 2014.
“With that in mind we want to make sure that boaters who are in need of support are able to get the help they need to enable them stay on the water. This blog covers some of the help that we’re able to provide if you, or someone you know, is struggling.
“I started as the Trust’s first welfare officer in 2014 to help staff work with boaters in need of more support as well as linking with the organisations that can provide practical help: places like the Citizens Advice Bureau, mental health charities and the waterway chaplains.
“In the last 18 months I’ve supported over 189 cases of boaters in need of specialist help, and the team has made over 1,000 adjustments to help people who have run into short-term trouble. I’ve recently blogged about my role where, if you’re interested, you can read some anonymised case studies.
“It’s been very rewarding helping these boaters and we’ve had some great feedback.
“Ultimately, don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s what we are here for. If you are a boater and feel like you may need help, please get in touch with us – you can find your local contact’s details on this map. If you prefer, contact customer services on 0303 040 4040.
“We welcome any ideas about organisations we should be speaking to or suggestions on how we can work to support boaters. So, if you have an idea or suggestion please send them over to me.”
While we work hard to protect the 200+ year old network of canals and rivers – check out our plans for this winter - and keep them in tip-top condition, it’s not always possible. The list below is what we already know will affect cruising over the coming weekend. This list highlights those instances where, for one reason or another, cruising won’t be possible.
- Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal - Junction with the River Irwell and Middlewood Deep Lock.
- Rochdale Canal – Lock 15 to Lock 17.
- Lancaster Canal – Stainton Aqueduct.
- Leigh Branch (Leeds & Liverpool Canal) – Plank Lane Bridge.
- Chesterfield Canal – Near Drakeholes.
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.
- Regular readers will have seen that over the summer I’ve included an invitation in this section to anyone who wanted to help us keep our online maps up to date. This has included both waterside facilities and a survey of winding holes (which I blogged about). Thanks to those of you that have – 161 surveys have been done with 70 new, and previously unrecorded, winding holes logged! What we’re keen to do, while most boaters are still out cruising, is to survey the remaining 466 winding holes. Your help would be really appreciated – just have a read of the blog linked above and there’s a link to the sites that we’d like boaters to cast their eye over.
- Can you often be found on or by the Kennet & Avon (K&A)? Or do you have fond memories of cruising, cycling or walking it in bygone days? Perhaps even part of the mammoth restoration project of a few decades ago? If you answered yes to any of those of questions we have a tall order for you! We’d like you to describe the K&A in one word. Just one. To find out more and submit your word please visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/oneword.
- And finally, we’ve recently published the 2016/17 to 2018/19 three year plan and the interested among you might want a browse. The plan shows that the bulk of the charitable expenditure is on the day-to-day operations, maintenance and ‘asset management’ of the waterways - which includes the winter stoppage programme, vegetation, refuse and other operational contracts, and planned preventative maintenance activities. This expenditure increases, as our asset management plans shift the focus slightly from large major works projects to these day-to-day interventions, especially as third party-funded projects rises. The amount committed to dredging also rises over the plan.
Last date edited: 26 August 2016
About this blog
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