Gave the wrong message

Published: Thursday, 27 July 2017

THERE is little doubt that allowing canoeists into Foulridge Tunnel on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal gave the wrong message, writes Adrian Beckett.

The Canal & River Trust allowing this quite obviously did not realise its consequences, or perhaps had no concern for them, as the message to canoeists was that it was quite in order to use canal tunnels.

Chirk tunnelIt's now the thing to do

To any canoeist seeing the mass of their kind going through the tunnel, the clear message was that it was now the thing to do, and they are doing.

On Monday I met one of them in Chirk Tunnel as I was heading for Llangollen in my 60ft cruiser stern narrowboat, and those of you who have cruised this section of the Llangollen Canal will realise that not only is it narrow with the walkway taking up space but there is a 'kink' in it that stops you seeing the further entrance.

No chance of seeing them

On the stern of my narrowboat I had no chance of seeing the canoeists coming towards me, the two in the canoe had no light, and it was only when I heard them shouting that I heard them above the noise of the engine and stopped, very close to them.  By then the two were attempting to turn around and head back in the narrow tunnel but seemed to panic as they were sideways on as one was obviously paddling against the other, with the canoe drifting towards me, as there is a definite flow on this canal as it supplies water to a reservoir.

They eventually headed back with me following, and exiting from the tunnel I noticed that the old notice of 'no unpowered craft' had been change to 'make sure the tunnel is clear'.  But with Chirk Tunnel it is not possible to see if the tunnel is clear, but again Canal & River Trust had either not known this or had ignored it in its attempt to make the waterways 'available for all'.

Not a sensible idea

I maintain, as do fellow boaters have I spoken to, that allowing fragile canoes in pitch black tunnels together with 15 ton powered craft is not a sensible idea, and the consequences of such a decision is going to come to prove this.

I only hope that I am not involved, as I could easily have been in Chirk Tunnel.