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News article created on 15 July 2016

Boaters' Update

Welcome to the latest edition. In it you'll find a report on what changes you've told me you'd like to see in Boaters' Update change and there's a special feature on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Of course, you'll find the usual waterway diary and an update on the latest stoppages affecting cruising.

Boats on Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Skipton with people on the towpaths Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Skipton

In the last edition I asked for your views on how you’d like to see Boaters’ Update evolve (or not) – thanks to the many of you who sent in your views. Please do have a read and let me know your view if you haven’t already.

One of the suggestions was, in each edition, to have a focus on a different canal or part of the network. So, in that vein, in this one you’ll find lots about the Leeds & Liverpool Canal; its bicentenary and some of the upcoming festivals.

As always, 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 drop me a line. In the meantime, click on the links below to jump to the article of your choice:

Happy boating,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:

And here are just some of the things happening over the next fortnight:

  • 16 & 17 Jul – There’s lots going on throughout the whole weekend at the Cosgrove Canal festival and craft fair with many historic and trade boats, craft and games stalls.
  • 17 Jul – There’s great family fun to be had at the Bridgwater Docks Gala with food, refreshments and performers among others.
  • 18 to 21 Jul – Across the border you’ll find The Royal Welsh Show which showcases the cream of Welsh livestock and the high quality food and drink produced in Wales. A wide range of activities and displays provide something for everyone. Please come and say hello to our Welsh team who will be welcoming visitors to their stand.
  • 23 & 24 Jul – Make your way to Victoria Park, in the heart of Newbury where the waterways festival will be taking place – don't miss the flotilla!

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.

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Celebrating the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Leeds & Liverpool CanalLinking the great industrial cities of Liverpool and Leeds, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (L&L) is the longest canal in Britain built as a single waterway. With rural walks, noteworthy heritage and peaceful boating, its 127 mile length has a lot to offer.

It’s quite hard to summarise 200 years of colourful history in such a short space so I won’t try! Instead I’ll just list the key dates (you can read a more detailed history if you want):

  • It took 46 years to complete, finally finishing in 1816.
  • When the Stanley Dock branch was completed in 1846, along with the Aire & Calder, it offered a coast-to-coast route to boating traffic.
  • Commercial traffic continued until the 1950s.
  • Enthusiasts battled hard from the 1950s onwards to keep the L&L open.
  • 1972 saw the last cargo of coal (for commercial use).
  • The Ribble Link, connecting the L&L to the Lancaster Canal, via the River Ribble, opened in 2002.
  • The Liverpool Canal Link, extending the L&L into the centre of the city, opened in 2009.

The L&L has continued to prosper and this year sees bicentenary events and celebrations marking its 200th birthday. Our heritage mile marker project will have replaced a quarter of the canal’s missing mileposts by the end of this month with more following. There’s also the pioneering Desmond Family Canoe Trail, and a new choral symphony, just one part of the Super Slow Way arts project, plus dozens of festivals.

Talking of festivals, there are two coming up in the near future:

Blackburn Bicentenary Canal Festival, Eanam Wharf , 23 & 24 July

This year, as in the past, you’ll find a floating market, boat flotilla, boat trips, live entertainment, family fun fair, vintage and traditional market stalls selling just about anything you can imagine.  If that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be pony rides, live bands, promenade drama pieces, heritage trail, art trail, art workshops, art installations on and off the water and the latest addition to the coast to coast trail with the launch of the Blackburn Hub.

Chairman Graham Vernon, of the festival steering committee said: "This year will be the festival of festivals. It’ll celebrate the heritage and outstanding engineering the canal brought to our small market town 200 years ago, into the busy, industrious, diverse and modern thinking community it is today. Everyone involved in our free family fun day should be very proud, as I am to be involved in creating a truly spectacular waterways celebration commemorating our canal."

More information or boating booking forms can be found on the website or contact the festival office on 01254 699 221.

Leigh Canal Festival, 10 & 11 September

By the time of this festival summer should have started! After a successful inaugural year, the Leigh Canal Festival is back with a bang. We’re delighted to be joined by Ambush and newly refurbished short boat George, with historical links to Leigh this is a must for a visit.

The weekend will also involve a food and beer festival at the historic Waterside Inn, boat taxi, canoeing, a sparkling new marina at Pennington Wharf, music and, on the Saturday, a heritage day in the town centre.  Boaters and trade boaters can look forward to a warm welcome and plenty to do. Fancy booking your boat in? Just drop the local team a line and they’ll be happy to help. 

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And the Boaters’ Update survey said…

In the last edition I asked you what, if any, changes you’d like to see to Boaters’ Update. As mentioned above, lots of you got in touch with your views – thanks! If you haven’t got round to it yet but still want to let me know what you think then have a read of the article and please do drop me a line.

I thought you might like to know what the majority have been saying:

  • Fortnightly is about the right frequency (although some said that out of season it could be once a month).
  • Core focus should remain boating.
  • Focus on particular regions throughout the year.
  • Video is fine but it isn’t essential for every edition (although lots of people applauded last edition’s paddle gear video and said they would welcome more ‘instructional style’ videos).
  • In a similar vein to ‘instructional style’ videos, some suggested more technical articles from experts such as how to fit solar panels, how to make your water last etc.
  • More boater-led content such as reader’s letters and photos.
  • More comprehensive event listings.

The above list just covers the things which were frequently mentioned. There were other ideas suggested but this would be the longest edition on record if I listed them all! What I’m now going to do is look at various ways to incorporate your suggestions in the coming editions. Watch this space!

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Visiting and mooring in London – your opinion please!

photo of City Road Lock, Regent's CanalAs some of you may have read earlier this year, we’re working on a mooring strategy for London to address the unique challenges and opportunities of boating in the Capital.

As boating in London has become more popular, and boat numbers have grown, pressure has increased 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 the above in mind this strategy’s aims are:

  • For 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

As part of the strategy development we’re currently running a survey to gauge the level of demand for boaters wanting to visit London together with their interest in being able to pre-book a short-stay mooring ahead of their arrival. It’s not a long survey so if you have a few minutes spare please do give us your views.

The survey runs until 24 August.

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Maintenance, repair or restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

While we work hard to protect the 200+ year old network of canals and rivers 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.

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.

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A digital nudge

Trying to remember the expiry date of all the food in the fridge is hard enough, let alone trying to remember when the car tax, insurance, TV licence, boat licence etc. etc. needs renewing. That’s why, in the next few weeks, we’ll try to help in a small way by sending you a text message reminder when your boat licence is nearly due for renewal.

If you’ve registered your mobile number with us then we’ll automatically sign you up for these messages. If you would like to opt out – please note that they’ll be purely licence related and will not affect any messages you get from other departments – then you can do this by logging onto your account and changing your communication preferences by going to the ‘My Account’ section and selecting ‘My details’.

If you need to register for the first time and you have previously provided an email address to us then you’ll be able to use this to register. If you haven’t provided us with an email address then you can use your customer number. As an aside, if you’re planning on buying a winter mooring permit this year then you’ll also need to register – more details of locations, prices will follow in August.

If you have already registered with the online licensing system then please just sign in using your existing details.

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Bits and Bobs

  • Can you help us keep our maps up to date? In the last edition I mentioned that we’ve developed a simple online form for boaters to report any differences they spot between our maps and what they come across out on the cut. I blogged about it a few weeks ago – read now for more info! Your help is greatly appreciated…
  • The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust have been in touch to say it is welcoming trail boats to its annual Over Festival on the Canal on 20 & 21 August at Over Basin near Gloucester. You’ll find a half mile length of restored canal to leading up to Vineyard Hill. There’s currently space for a few more trail boats, and boat-owners are invited to call Hannah or David at The Wharf House on 01452 332 900 if they would like to spend the weekend there.
  • And finally, it’s not every year that the World Canal Conference is so easy to get to – this year our friends north of the border are hosting in Inverness (19 to 22 Sep). There’s a broad range of speakers and themes, including our very own Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the North East, and Darren Parkinson who manages the team responsible for our telemetry systems that remotely monitor the network, so there’s likely to be plenty to make the trip worthwhile!

Happy boating!

Damian

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The boaters' update

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 important safety announcements and upcoming events

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