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News article created on 12 September 2014

A busy September on the cut

I had a chance to mix business with pleasure as I attended the National Users Forum. And then the shorts were out as the sun stayed out for another day's cruising. It's a popular time to be out on a boat - we even got stuck in a queue.

Water is crucial to canals. No water - no canals - no boats or angling or aquatic wildlife.

On Wednesday I got the train from Nantwich to Birmingham to attend the six-monthly National Users Forum. This comprises various user groups including IWA, NABO, NBTA, British Marine Federation, British Canoeing, Ramblers Association etc. The Boat Museum Society's Mike Turpin mentioned to me my blogs - nice to meet another reader.

The meeting had a full programme of speakers, including Canal & River Trust chief executive Richard Parry. Operations director Vince Moran gave an update on maintenance (£7m is to be spent on dredging this year, an increase on earlier years' £4m) while Julie Sharman talked about the Waterway Partnerships three year plans. The meeting also heard from Dean Davies who has, as interim head of customer services, taken on what the retired Sally Ash did as head of boating, and from hydrology head Adam Comerford who presented the consultation just launched about water demand and supply. Water is crucial to canals. No water - no canals - no boats or angling or aquatic wildlife etc.

There were questions during and after the presentations and people were asked for ideas for future meetings. Sue Day of the Horse Boat Society asked about saplings in towpath walls and I left with her deeply engrossed in conversation with Vince Moran. Earlier Vince had told us that putting right some of the problems about towpath cutting earlier this year had cost the contractors over £200k.

Thursday was yet another lovely day - which saw me in shorts! There had been a lot of passing boats at Nantwich and this continued today. At Barbridge Junction we were coming north to turn right and another boat was heading south when a third appeared from under the junction bridge.  We managed to sort out ourselves without any hits. 

Earlier we'd seen the troublesome offside trees we'd been warned about at Acton Bridge, and also some further north.  We sent photos to the Northwich office for them to action. 

The usual queues at Cholmeston lock - we were third - continued to Minshull. But at least people moved their boats along and generally got ready to be able to move promptly into a lock when their turn came. I get irritated when people wait for an out coming boat to pass them before thinking of getting ready to move.

Interesting to see the repairs at Hoole Bridge.  Tie bars are being put in to give this authentic bridge a prolonged life. 

We had meant to go on to Wheelock but the lock delays meant we stopped at Middlewich. We didn't fancy stopping partway between the two with that busy road nearby. So it'll be an early start on Friday morning.

About this blog

John Dodwell

John Dodwell was formerly one of our 10 trustees. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.

John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!

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