We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

News article created on 3 November 2017

Boaters' Update 3 Nov 2017

In this latest edition you'll find out how you can get to see locks and canals as you've never seen before, why graffiti is such a costly blight, how to make a gorgeous chutney using towpath goodies and much more besides!

Banbury Locks (Credit Jane Russell) Banbury Locks (Credit Jane Russell)

In what’s been a recurring a theme this autumn, I want to start with thanks. Specifically thanks to those who continue to get in touch about the GOODBOATER boating guidelines – there’s still time to let me know your favourite while I work on a sparkly new version that takes into account the feedback you’ve given.

The other nod of appreciation goes to the thousands of you who’ve shared your thoughts on the future of boat licensing. Keep ‘em coming! If you haven’t got round to it yet, don’t worry, there’s still time.

Below you’ll find a rundown of this winter’s Open Days, how damaging graffiti can be, and a whole host of news, this weekend’s stoppages, and ways in which you can get involved. If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition then do get in touch.

In this edition:

Happy boating,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

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

  • 20 Oct – We called on boaters to give their feedback on our proposals to help make the best possible use of London’s increasingly busy waterspace and improve boaters’ experience.
  • 23 Oct – We started work to improve a stretch of towpath along the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal so that local people and boaters can use it, whatever the weather.
  • 24 Oct – Crowds of more than 300 people watched the first International Duck Race as 100 ducks were waved off in Wales, before ‘swimming’ 710 feet over Chirk Aqueduct to England, with the help of a couple of kayakers!
  • 1 Nov – The coveted Green Flag, awarded to the best kept parks, beaches and green spaces across the UK, has, for the first time, been awarded to the entire length of the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Below I’ve picked out some highlights to see and do over the next fortnight. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network: visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • 4, 11 & 18 Nov – In St Helen’s you’ll find the Idle Women boot camp for surviving and thriving skills which includes creative and practical activities to help build independence, resilience and friendships.
  • 18 & 19 Nov – A short and healthy stroll from the oldest working dry dock in Britain (Tooley’s Boatyard) you’ll come across our first Open Day of the season at Banbury Lock where you can descend into the drained chamber and chat to our experts. Find out more about Open Days below.
  • 19 Nov – Go along to Fradley Junction for the last in its series of family days – to end the year it’s a minibeast hunt!
  • Until 30 Nov – The unique chance to see different aspects of the Montgomery Canal through the eyes of all the generations, and from all ages, ends in under four weeks as the Montgomery Canal Exhibition comes to a close.

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Canals and locks as you’ve never seen them before

This month sees the start of a five-month long programme of repairs as we spend £38million to restore some of the nation’s best loved sites.

As part of this work we are organising 10 free public open days across the country, offering the chance to see a part of the nation’s ‘hidden history’ and some of our most extraordinary waterway locations as you’ve never done before – this short, minute-long, video captures just how special these events are:

Our team of skilled and passionate experts, from construction supervisors, civil engineers and volunteers, to heritage advisors and apprentices, will be on hand at the open days to explain about the varied work we do and why it’s important to pass this knowledge and experience on to future generations.

Excitingly, visitors to the open days will be able to look around a pop-up museum which will showcase old items from the birth of the canals and some of the weird and wonderful finds from below the waterline. There will be ‘virtual hubs’ where people can plug in and watch virtual reality videos of some of our more unusual and awe-inspiring locations, and a display of historic images from each area will be on display.

Richard Parry, chief exec, says: "By opening up our work to the public we can give them a glimpse into the waterways’ original 18th Century design and explain the scale of the Canal & River Trust’s work to care for them now. We believe that whatever you do life is better by water so we want to inspire more people to support us to ensure we can continue to make our waterways great places to enjoy."

Visit the dedicated section to see the full list of Open Days.

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Warning of the cost of graffiti to the nation's heritage

In our annual Heritage Report published last week, graffiti accounted for around 25% of recorded damage to our historic locks, bridges and buildings with the true count likely to be much higher. 

We are the owner of the third largest estate of listed buildings and structures in the UK. 

Nigel Crowe, our national heritage manager said: "Anti-social graffiti is the real scourge of the nation’s waterways heritage. The canals and rivers we care for are beautiful places to unwind and soak up the atmosphere, but too often the view includes mindless tags scrawled over locks and bridges. The problem is particularly bad in urban areas and many incidents are likely to have gone unreported.

"It’s depressing that we have to spend so much time clearing up after vandals who spray their marks over our heritage. Areas that are covered in anti-social graffiti can feel intimidating as well as being an eyesore so we take action where we can, and always when it’s racist or obscene.

"The Canal & River Trust and our volunteers do a fantastic job of clearing up the mess but it’s a constant battle. Removing paint from historic masonry can be a costly and painstaking task – we often have to use special techniques to protect our buildings and structures. Sadly, as a charity, we don’t have the time or money to rid the waterways of bad graffiti for good. We need people to help us, either by joining one of our volunteer groups and helping make their local canal an even lovelier place, or by donating to help us protect our waterways heritage."

The Report shows that vandalism is the most common cause of damage to the waterways heritage, accounting for 47% of the 860 recorded incidents. Of this, half involved graffiti. The number of unrecorded incidents is likely to be much higher. With volunteers helping staff and contractors, we currently spends around £38,000 every year clearing the most offensive graffiti, but this can only scratch the surface of a perennial problem.  The second-highest cause of damage is from boat impacts, and we ask all boaters to stay alert when they’re navigating and using locks to help us keep our historic waterways shipshape.

Away from graffiti 2016/17 was otherwise a good year for our heritage with an overall improvement in the condition of its listed building and structures. There was a slight decrease in the number of its assets on ‘heritage at risk’ registers, with three listed building were removed after repairs and conservation work was completed. The number of assets on national and local registers now stands at 22.

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More ways for you to get involved

Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:

  • In the early October edition then you may recall the excellent article sent in by a fellow boater about towpath foraging. In the last edition another boater shared a wonderful Crab Apple & Rosehip Tart recipe. Well if your taste buds weren’t whetted already then maybe Keith’s Spicy Plum and Butternut Chutney recipe will do the trick. If you’d like to share a tasty treat made from towpath goodies then do please send them in.
  • For those who boat in the capital, don’t forget that the proposed strategy options for the London Mooring Strategy (created by a broad range of users) are now online. Please do find the time to have a read through and let us know what you think – the consultation runs until 18 December.
  • As mentioned in the introduction the final stage of the consultation on the future of boat licensing is now underway. If you’re a boat licence holder then you should have had an emailed, or postal, invite (specific to you) to take part a couple of weeks ago. Thousands of you (thanks again) have already given us your thoughts but we want more! Please have a read and give us your views. If you haven’t received your invite then just give our customer services team a quick call on 0303 040 4040 and they’ll get one out to you.

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

We’re now on the cusp of a £38million winter restoration programme - we get out our big toys and restore things while you’re less likely to be out on the cut. Of course, there are other times when we need to fix things that unexpectedly break. So, below, you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happening that may affect you if you’re planning on wrapping up for a winter cruise.

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.

Please note that in the past if you’ve wanted stoppage notices for the Leicester line, and associated arms, then these were selected separately (rather than as part of the Grand Union Canal). However this has been changed so if you are planning on cruising the GU and want to receive notices for the Leicester Line then please log in to your MyTrust account and check the box next to Leicester Line which you’ll now find under the GU. If you already receive them you’ll continue doing so.

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. If you have any questions about a specific closure then you’ll find the email addresses for our regional offices on our contacts page.

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Bits and Bobs

  • We are pleased to announce that following the closure of the Fazeley office and the associated customer service facilities, as of a couple of days ago, Fazeley Mill Marina on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (managed by Pridewater Estates) will be opening up their Elsan and Bin facilities to canal users on our behalf. These services are located just inside the marina entrance. A water point is also available and is located on the canal by the entrance. They’re available seven days a week between 9am and 5pm.

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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