This latest edition of Boaters' Update gives you the answer to 'What shall I do over the late May Bank Holiday?', contains news of how you can help us keep our maps up to date and lots more besides.
Well, it appears that the weather is starting to resemble something other than winter. Good news if you’re out on the cut – as Trustee John Dodwell was last weekend – let’s hope it holds for another three and a bit weeks as that’s when the country’s biggest inland waterway festival, Crick Boat Show, gets underway.
If you’re undecided about going, take a look at this edition’s first article – there’s such a huge amount happening at the show that I’m sure you’ll find something for you.
Before you dive in to that, or the other, articles you might want to set an alarm for 7.55pm tonight as the third episode of Barging Round Britain is on ITV at 8pm. Tonight, John Sergeant is on the Lancaster Canal.
Elsewhere in this edition you’ll find:
- Last week, this week - what’s happening on or by the cut?
- Top 10 things to do at Crick Boat Show
- Flood repairs boosted by appeal
- London Mooring Strategy to be developed
- Maintenance, repair or restoration work affecting cruising this weekend
- Mapping facilities and winding holes
- Bits and bobs
If there’s something you’d like to share with the boating community via this update then please drop me a line.
Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:
- 22 Apr – We teamed up with Girlguiding Birmingham to create a new Canal Challenge Badge aimed at teaching youngsters about the nation's waterways.
- 29 Apr – We issued our thanks to members of the public after our appeal to support flood-hit communities raised more than £140,000. More on this below.
- 29 Apr – Super Slow Way, an Arts Council England funded partnership established to get more people from canal-side communities creating and enjoying art in Pennine Lancashire announced its ambitious programme for 2016.
- 29 Apr – We set out our plans to develop a London Mooring Strategy to address the unique challenges and opportunities of boating in the capital. More on this below.
Before the next edition is published you might like to know that:
- 7 & 8 May – Fancy a bit of time-travelling? Look no further than a fantastic weekend by the Staniforth & Keadby Canal to commemorate the forties! Starting with a parade at the Punch Bowl Inn, there will activities and entertainment to keep you busy!
- 7 May – Have you ever been through Britain’s longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel? Well, why not take a guided trip and learn all about this amazing engineering feat as you go?
- 8 May – Out west you can join the crowds and cheer on your favourite in Gloucester Docks at the Dragon Boat Regatta.
- 13 May – We’ve teamed up with Birmingham City University to offer a two-day course packed full of learning about historic waterways.
- 13 to 15 May – If you do sign up for the course above then you can always use your lunchbreak to do a spot of shopping at the Fazeley Floating Market!
Of course, there are plenty of other activities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.
Finding something to do on Bank Holiday weekends can end up as a battle of wills as each family member tries to convince the others that their choice is best. But at this year’s Crick Boat Show, 28-30 May at Crick Marina near Daventry, there’s a host of activities to suit the whole family:
- Enjoy a free boat trip along the Grand Union Canal aboard trip boats provided by Union Canal Carriers, run by volunteers from the London Narrowboat Project.
- Meet an 18th century canal engineer (ok an actor!) as part of the Show’s celebration of 300 years since the birth of James Brindley, one of history’s great canal engineers.
- Have a go at Roses & Castles painting in our marquee – our boating team will be asking Crick visitors to help decorate a boat cabin recently constructed by young apprentices at our Stanley Ferry Workshop.
- Soak up some live music with live bands performing throughout the Show in the Wheatsheaf Bar Marquee.
- Listen to Waterway Writers reading extracts from their books and signing copies. On Saturday, Christine Richardson, author of James Brindley, Canal Pioneer will be speaking, on Sunday you can meet Helen Babbs, author of Adrift: A Secret Life of London’s Waterways, and on Monday, Berlie Doherty will be signing copies of Snowy, winner of the Children’s Book Award for the best picture book of the year.
- Design your dream boat by picking out the fixtures, fittings and even the boat you want from over 250 exhibitors.
- Graze on gourmet food in the show’s Food & Craft Marquee which will be home to a wide selection of gourmet food specialists, offering tasty samples and live demonstrations of culinary delights.
- Take a ride on the funfair - children aged 16 and under can visit the show for free where they will find a variety of hands-on, exciting children’s activities, including a funfair with dodgems and carousel. Although many of the children’s activities will be free, there will be a charge for funfair rides.
- Find out about living afloat via the show’s seminar programme with topics for both novice and seasoned boaters, including advice about living on a boat from the Residential Boat Owners Association.
- If you’re a novice boater you can learn how to steer a boat by booking a one-hour Boat Handling Taster Course, led by The Narrowboat Skills Centre, Willow Wren Training and Watercraft. The boat trainers will talk you through the basics of casting off, mooring up, boat etiquette, rope handling and lock navigation. Places cost £12 each and can booked in advance.
Crick Boat Show will be open from 10am till 6pm every day except Monday 30 May, when it closes at 5pm. Evening entertainment runs from 7.30pm to 11.30pm.
We'd like to say thank you to everyone who donated to our appeal - over £140,000 was raised - which continues to support flood-hit communities. The appeal was launched to help communities along Calderdale’s flood-damaged waterways get back on their feet.
The money has bolstered the clean-up efforts and helped to repair almost all sections of towpath that were damaged and, in some places, washed away. As a result important links between communities have been reinstated and local residents can once again enjoy getting away from it all on their nearest towpath.
Many of the towpath works have been carried out by dedicated volunteers who have given over 3,500 hours to clear dumped silt, fill in holes, and resurface washed out sections of path. Volunteers from 8 to 80 have pitched in with people from the boating community, local businesses, community groups, canal societies and even a team of junior soldiers all getting involved.
Since the devastation of the Boxing Day floods over 10km of damaged towpath have been restored and sections of canal from Hebden Bridge to Salterhebble and Brighouse to Wakefield and beyond reopened to boats, with more due to follow in the coming months.
The appeal has had wide support including a special £25,000 award from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Government has also provided match funding to support the efforts.
David Baldacchino, waterway manager, said: “We’re so grateful to everybody that has helped to get sections of canal and towpath reopened whether that be through donating to our fundraising appeal or pitching in with the clean-up and repair efforts.
“The area’s waterways and towpaths are incredibly important for local people, providing a traffic-free means of getting around as well as an attractive place to escape the stresses of daily life.
“Reopening them is an important step in helping to get Calderdale back on track and the tremendous generosity that we’ve seen from members of the public, the local community and players of People’s Postcode Lottery has been invaluable.”
Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “The devastation of the Boxing Day floods on Calderdale’s waterways was shocking and has had a real impact on local communities. We’re delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery have helped to get these important community spaces reopened so that they can once more be enjoyed by local people."
If you cruised around London 10 years ago and have recently been back you’ll have noticed the increase in boats. This has led to pressure on moorings, facilities and infrastructure. It can be hard to find space at towpath moorings in the most popular areas while the supply of long-term moorings isn’t enough to meet demand.
With all of this in mind, we're setting out plans to develop a London Mooring Strategy (LMS) to address the unique challenges and opportunities of boating in the capital.
Over the past few years we have been working with boaters and other stakeholders to try improve the boating experience in London. Although a number of trials have been carried out and there have been some positive changes, for example the creation of new long-term moorings and bookable moorings, it is clear that a more formal plan of action, developed with all waterway users, is needed.
The LMS will allow us to take a look at how to manage these issues, as well as make the most of opportunities that will help us maintain the waterways for the benefit of boaters and other users. In broad terms, the aims are:
- Better provision and management of a range of facilities and mooring types in London
- To manage the high number of boats in London and to mitigate the environmental impacts on the waterways and neighbours
- To help ensure fair sharing of water space
- To enable a wider range of boaters to visit and navigate in London
- To protect existing, and generate additional, income to maintain the waterways in London
- To support a London waterway destination and tourism strategy
- To ensure the mooring strategy contributes to the Trust’s aim that London’s waterways help to transform neighbourhoods and enrich people’s lives
Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager, said: “London’s waterways are some of the busiest in the country and we need to manage the finite space effectively. We need to face the challenges head on, as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to develop a really world-class waterspace that people will be able to visit and enjoy.
"We’ll be working closely with those who use the capital’s canals and rivers to make sure we hear everyone’s views and make well-informed decisions.”
We have already started to gather information from various groups, including our Navigation Advisory Group, the London Waterway Partnership, national boating organisations and other key stakeholders. Over the coming months there will be a programme of workshops for interested parties and it’s hoped that the LMS will be completed in 2017.
Thanks for your feedback on this relatively new section of Boaters’ Update – some of you have been in touch to say it’s useful. 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.
- Lancaster Canal – Stainton Aqueduct.
- Rochdale Canal – Lock 36 to lock 45, Sowerby Bridge to Summit.
- Calder & Hebble Navigation – Crowther Bridge to Salterhebble Guillotine gate.
- Shropshire Union Canal – Lower Basin Washwall to Wide Lock Approach, Ellesmere Port.
- Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal - Junction with the River Irwell and Middlewood Deep Lock.
- Engine Arm Canal (Smethwick) – Engine Arm Aqueduct.
- London Docklands - West India Dock Entrance.
- Sheffield & Tinsley Canal - Tinsley Flight Gate 2.
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.
While the section above talks of navigation closures, you’ll know that there’s more to planning a cruise than just knowing whether your route is open. Almost as important is knowing where you can pump out or top up your water tanks.
We do have these facilities displayed on our map but we want to make sure that the information is kept right up to date. So, who better to help us do this than those that are out there, day in, day out, using those very same facilities? You’ve guessed it, boaters!
We’ve developed a simple form that boaters can use to submit reports on a range of facilities that they think we need to update on our map. We’ve also developed a supporting process that will then update the maps with any corrections once a month. We would really appreciate it if, when you come across something that’s not quite right on our map, you could fill in the form and send it in. Of course, there are lots of facilities out there that are owned and operated by Third Parties, we’ve compiled a list of those we know about and will soon provide a form for you to tell us about any not on the list.
As part of this we’re also reviewing all of the information we hold on winding holes. The information gathering bit will take place over the summer, where we will update all the info we have. Then, over winter, we’ll use the newly gathered, and accurate, information to update the online map.
This process will also inform discussions around which winding holes we should be prioritising for dredging investment as well as looking at everything from its location to current usage (including those identified as an informal winding hole but is well used) to potential alternatives for those not used that often.
Again, there’s one obvious community out there which can help us make sure we have the best possible data set… We would really appreciate your help if, next time you’re on a cruise, you could spare a little time to tell us about any winding holes you’ve used. Please note that some have already been surveyed so it’d be great if you could check this list (a survey date indicates it’s been done), which will be updated regularly, and give us information on those not yet done by filling out this form.
If you’d like any more information on any of the above please just drop Debbie Lumb, who’s running the project, a line.
- A week or so ago I was having a good discussion on the Facebook Boating page about lock safety. One of the contributors suggested that all novice hire boaters should be accompanied for the first part of their trip by an experienced helmsperson. Well, a quick exchange of emails later and I’d come across Midland Marine who offer this very service. So, if you’re contemplating boating but are nervous about the practicalities of navigating, and so on, worry no more!
Last date edited: 6 May 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