Has CaRT the sense to embrace canoeists?

Published: Monday, 03 July 2017

As a native of Eton, and a keen canoeist as a youth I soon learned both the Thames Conservancy ‘rules’ are actually licencing arrangements, I think it was in shillings per year then! Writes Geoff Low.

In later life, me and a workmate, having had an over 40’s company medical, with associated lifestyle warnings, decided to get fit by rejoining the canoeing fraternity. By then I was also a narrowboat owner. We had a wonderful time at weekends ‘training’ for our objective 90 mile fitness test. We had training runs on the Grand Union, the Thames and the Kennet & Avon, no problems at all, just live and let live, and obviously keep out of the way of anything bigger than you, nuff said.

Total of 90 miles

Our climax was a sponsored canoe trip from Slough basin to Stoke Bruerne, a total of about 90 miles done over a bank holiday weekend, a bit knackering to say the least! We had a backup team moving our accommodation for overnight stops (a rented Transit van). Great fun and no incidents, quite the reverse. Overnight chats and hospitality with boaters was the norm.

Canoeing, in my view, is a fantastic, cheap and cheerful way of getting younger and less well-off people both interested in waterways and understanding how they work, you only have to see the canoe club at Cropredy to appreciate this.

Cock-up with cyclists

Given CaRTs previous cock-ups with cyclists, it would be a shame if canoeists were classified in the same way, they are legal waterways users, not Lycra louts looking for scenic miles to put on the computerised clock.

If a group of canoeists wish to negotiate a tunnel then this should be able to be arranged in advance with CaRT and organised, just as if a wide beam boat or whatever was using the tunnel, what on earth is the problem? I’m sure boaters would be delighted to wait and cheer the canoeists out of the tunnel. All it takes is two notices and a man at each end of the tunnel, and CaRT's problem is..?

It would be a shame if this group of waterways users became militant, like cyclists, because CaRT hasn’t got the sense to embrace them as future potential waterways enthusiasts