Boaters' Update 7 April 2017

Ahead of Easter (and this weekend's predicted warm spell) this edition of Boaters' Update gives you the low down on fishing, exciting news from the Cotswold Canals Trust and much more besides. So, put your feet up have a read and then make the most of your weekend(s) with a visit to your local canal and river.

Saul Junction Saul Junction

In the last edition I talked about planning for the main boating season ahead. Well, with Easter just next week (and a four-day weekend) now is very much the time to get afloat if you haven’t already. 

Of course, if  you’re not able to get onto the water this Easter, then maybe a spot of gongoozling is in order (perhaps at the 40th Easter Boat Gathering at National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port)? Or for the anglers amongst you, Canal & River Trust’s fisheries & angling manager, John Ellis, discusses angling etiquette.

Elsewhere in this edition you’ll find the usual mix of news and this weekend’s stoppages as well as an  exciting announcement about the Cotswold Canals. If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition, then do get in touch.

In this edition:

Happy boating,


News round-up and the fortnight ahead

Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:

And if you’re wondering what you can enjoy on or by a canal in the next couple of weeks then you might be interested in these events:

  • Until 25 May – Got a spare couple of hours on a Wednesday evening? Then why not try your hand at something creative with the Idle Women aboard floating arts centre Selina Cooper on the Aire & Calder Navigation Main Line?
  • Until 14 May – While I’m talking all things creative, why not go and enjoy the appropriately titled, canalside, outdoor art exhibition ‘Everything comes from the egg’ in Milton Keynes.
  • 8 & 9 Apr – Take the family down to see the Newfoundland Dog Water Display, listen to live music, and of course, the children will love the Easter Egg Hunt and fair ground rides – all of which can be found at Sawley Marina’s Spring Market!
  • 14 – 17 Apr – With four whole days to make the most of over the Easter Weekend, there’s plenty to see and do on and around the Trust’s 2,000-mile network of canals and rivers. From the 40th Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterway Museum, Ellesmere Port and the Easter Treasure Hunt at the Anderton Boat Lift through to perhaps the two most unique markets you’ll find in the entire country – a Floating Market at Bollington on the Macclesfield and at Linslade on the Grand Union.

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.


Gone fishing

Lots of you have been in touch over the last few months asking for an article on fishing and it’s no secret that many boaters are keen anglers too, so, in this article, fisheries & angling manager, John Ellis, looks at the history, and modern practicalities, of being a boaty angler.

Who was the first boater to fish the canals?

‘To the best of my knowledge, history does not record the name of the first person to actually fish on a British canal. Who knows, it could have been a member of the first boat crew when they moored up on that very first trip. Or, if you include the Fossdyke, then a Roman angler wins the prize. Whoever it was, the purpose would have probably been for the capture of food rather than for sport. For back in the 18th and 19th Centuries, coarse fish such as shad, pike, eel and even gudgeon were an important part of the diet.’

Who owns the fishing rights?

‘Fishing rights are legal property in their own right. The Trust owns the fishing rights on much of the canal network, although there are some exceptions to this which have their origins back in history to the time of the Canal Enabling Acts. On the river navigations, the position is that where the Trust owns the land, we also own the fishing rights associated with that land ownership.’

Does the Trust boat licence cover me to fish or do I need a separate permit?

‘In situations where the Trust owns fishing rights on canals and rivers, we manage them by either license agreements with angling clubs or under our Waterway Wanderers scheme. Anyone wishing to angle from their moored craft (it’s not allowed when moving) or kayak needs to have a permit to do so. This will typically be:

  • A day or season membership of the controlling angling club
  • A Waterway Wanderers’ annual permit’

Where can I go fishing with just an Environment Agency rod licence?

‘The Environment Agency rod licence is legally required to fish anywhere, including in your own pond in the back garden! With very few exceptions (some EA owned fishing rights) the rod licence does not give the holder the legal right to fish anywhere in freshwater. It’s perhaps best to think of the rod licence as something that is required to licence the use of a fishing rod or pole, along the same lines as a gun licence.’

I’m always cruising about so how do I know who to buy a permit from?

‘This is a genuine concern often expressed by the cruising boater. The best answer I can give is that technology is beginning to come to our aid. The Trust's fishing pages have the most up to date information regarding clubs on the canal network. The 'fishing info' section of the Angling Trust website is the first port of call for information on the river navigations.’

Why not have a national boaters fishing permit?

‘In principle, there are obvious merits. It would be convenient and eliminate worry for the boating customer. There could potentially be extra income to enable clubs and the Trust to reinvest in its fisheries. However, there are some practical hurdles to overcome before this sort of permit could ever become a reality. These include obtaining the permission of the multitude of different clubs and owners of fishing rights for all the numerous fisheries that would be included. Then agreeing the ratio of the split in income, not to mention agreeing a set of fishery rules that everyone would sign up to, would be quite daunting. Sorting all these things out would be a substantial undertaking.’

What are the rules once I have my rod licence and permit?

‘When renting fishing rights from the Trust every angling association will sign a Standard Angling Agreement. There are some specifics set out which, for instance, prohibit the following:

  • fishing in a lock and within 25 metres of a lock wall approach or moveable bridge used for navigation or as otherwise specified in the First Schedule;
  • fishing within prohibited signed zones adjacent to overhead power lines;
  • trespassing on any property adjoining the Waterway and/or from causing annoyance or inconvenience to the owners or occupiers thereof; and
  • fishing within 25 metres of a water point.’

And what about at visitor moorings?

‘Unless specifically signed as no fishing areas, angling is allowed at visitor moorings. At quiet times of the year this is a rarely a problem and space is amicably shared. However, when it’s busier and visitor moorings are in high mooring demand, then moorers have priority. Put it this way, if you cruise up to a visitor mooring and the only available space is taken up by an angler then you have priority. If there’re other spaces then the angler can stay put as you can still moor on the visitor mooring without the angler moving!

‘These clauses in the angling agreement document set it out formally:

  • licensees not to actively obstruct or impede:
  •       navigation on the Waterway;
  •       the mooring of craft at locations signed by the Trust as being for the purpose of mooring;
  •       the passage of other legitimate users along the towing path on the Permitted Length;
  •       For the avoidance of doubt nothing in this Clause is intended to prevent fishing from signed mooring locations when there is no craft present at the mooring and there is no craft wishing to use a mooring.’

The above is a bit of a whistle-stop tour of fishing but there’s a whole bundle of information on our fishing pages if you’d like to read more.


Cotswold Canal Trust says another piece of the jigsaw falls into place

As someone lucky enough to live close to the Stroudwater Navigation I was especially pleased to see this statement issued by the Cotswold Canals Trust:

Kaskelot at Saul JunctionCotswold Canals Trust and Stroud District Council are pleased to announce that the Canal & River Trust is backing the bid to reconnect Stroud to the national canal network.

Canal & River Trust trustees have pledged £625,000 to support the restoration of the Cotswold Canal. The assistance will be spread over five years from 2018 if a bid this year to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful.  This is in addition to the support ‘in kind’ that the Trust can also provide.

David Hagg, chief executive of Stroud District Council, comments: “We’re delighted to receive support from the Canal & River Trust.  It’s a real endorsement of all the effort that has gone into restoring the canal.  The funds could be an important factor in helping to secure a bid by Cotswold Canals Trust and Stroud District Council to the Heritage Lottery Fund later this year which would see nearly £20m overall investment in the waterway. Equally, we look forward to working with the Canal & River Trust’s staff and to making the best possible use of their tremendous knowledge and expertise.

“If the bid is successful, it will fulfil the waterway movement’s long held ambition to connect approximately 11 miles of ‘new’ canal to the wider network as it will connect the six miles of largely restored canal around Stroud, to the Canal & River Trust’s network at Saul Junction on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.”

Jim White, chair of the Cotswold Canals Trust, comments: “The Canal & River Trust has been supporting the Cotswold Canals for the past few years with management support and professional advice although this has passed largely under-the-radar to the wider waterways movement.  Their financial support now is very welcome indeed as we go back to the Heritage Lottery Fund to try and unlock the funds to complete the restoration of the Stroudwater Navigation.”

Richard Parry chief executive of the Trust comments: “Cotswold Canal Trust and Stroud District Council have done an amazing job in building support for this project.  We are pleased to pledge what funding we can to help unlock the significant HLF funding required. There is no better way of transforming places and enriching lives than restoring an abandoned canal and reconnecting it with its local community, especially when it will also be re-connected to the national waterway network, providing an exciting new destination for boaters to visit.”

The decision follows Stroud District Council’s investment of £3m in the project, and Gloucestershire County Council’s recent announcement that it will commit £700,000. If the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful, ‘Stroudwater Connected’ would start in 2018/19 with the Canal & River Trust’s contribution of £125k per annum (plus staff time as can be made available) continuing over five years.


More ways for you to get involved

As regular readers will know, I always include a ‘Bits and bobs’ section at the end of every Boaters’ Update to capture all the snippets of news, and information, that I think you’ll be interested in but couldn’t quite squeeze in elsewhere.

In a bit of break from tradition, and because there are so many, I’ve divided it out in this edition and included this new section which includes the different ways, as boaters, you can help us with this or that. Please let me know if this helpful.

  • Boats in Bloom - We’re celebrating the people whose green fingers and gardening efforts help make our waterways such pleasant places to visit. This summer, with your help, we’ll be presenting certificates to those whose plants, flowers and vegetable displays make a positive contribution (big or small) to our canals and rivers. If you can spare some time over the coming few months to help spot blooming boats and dish out certificates, then please fill in the form to let us know.
  • Boat Owners’ Views Survey – If you’re reading this on publication day (7 Apr) then there’s only 48 hours left to fill in your boating survey (if you’re in the third of boaters taking part this year). An independent research agency emailed a link to the survey in March and then a reminder to those who’d not yet responded. Please do check your spam folders as some email providers have been frustratingly diverting them there. If you haven’t had an invite to take part don’t worry, you’ll be invited in either 2018 or 2019 to take part!
  • The ideal chandlery – a new chandlery owner recently got in touch to suggest an article on your chandlery needs. In the interests of neutrality, what I’m asking is that you send me your thoughts on what types of products your ideal chandlery should stock and what services should be on offer so I can then build a picture of the general consensus and then share, perhaps including a list of the top 10 must-have items, in a future edition of Boaters’ Update for all chandlery operators to read. To get you started, how about a café-come-launderette and do the types of services and products need to differ based on location in the country? Please do let me know what you think and you never know, the next time you walk into a chandlery you just might see the item or service you suggested!


Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

Keeping your canals and rivers ready for you to enjoy is a year-round job. From time-to-time this includes some major engineering that we need to temporarily close the navigation for. Below you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happen that may affect your cruising.

Just click on the one where you’ll be and a webpage will open listing any stoppages for that region (if your region isn’t listed then, yay, there aren’t any navigation closures there!). If you’re not quite sure which region your planned cruise falls in to please take a look at this map.

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.


Bits and Bobs

  • Do you 'Love to Boogie' or 'Ride a White Swan' (please don't!)? Ok, maybe hardcore fans will understand the references but for more casual music listeners, they're hits by T-Rex and at this year's Crick Boat Show the world’s only official live tribute band dedicated to Marc Bolan & T-Rex, ‘T-Rexstasy’ will be performing in the Wheatsheaf Bar Marquee on Saturday 27 May! Time to polish off those platforms...
  • Have you noticed that we’ve updated the boating section of the website. Hopefully it’s now easier to find all the important boating information you need – if you’ve got any views or comments please send them in.
  • Do you live on a boat with your family? If so, the BBC would like to hear from you... It's begun a project looking at the different, unique places that some people live in the UK. One place that it would like to film someone – preferably a family – living is a canal boat. If you're interested drop Alex Regan at the BBC a line...
  • I’ve been writing Boaters’ Update for five odd years now and have discussed many things with you. The most contentious issue (which surprised me) thus far has been dog poo. So, you’ll understand why this particular bullet point has given me pause (or should that be ‘poos’) for thought. Due to the rising number of call-outs to repair sanitary stations, one of our customer operations managers has got in touch to ask me to raise the issue of wet wipes. It seems their use is increasing and, with it, more are finding their way into elsans and pump outs. The problem is that they simply don’t disintegrate – as this great article highlights – as normal toilet tissue would. So, next time you’re, erm, contemplating life while on the throne, please contemplate that every time we spend money unblocking a sanitary station it’s money that we could be spending on dredging, lock maintenance, offside vegetation clearance…
  • And finally, on a much lighter note, Trustee John Dodwell recently gave a great speech to the Staffs & Worcs Canal Society. It covers just about everything we do and includes some fantastic pictures… Well worth a read.

Happy boating!


Last date edited: 7 April 2017

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The boaters' update

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