Danger of canoes in Foulridge

Published: Tuesday, 06 June 2017

I WAS absolutely aghast that the decision had been made to officially allow canoeists in Foulridge Tunnel, a tunnel we use fairly often with our narrowboat, writes Pauline Wragg.

There are a number of canoeists based in that area of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and we have already had the misfortune to meet two in this tunnel this year, I believe before they were officially allowed.

Against red light

We had waited for the light to turn to green to allow us through, but both times had met the canoes in the tunnel, obviously having come through against their red light, having a complete disregard for the consequences.

One had a small light attached to his head, and it was our son sat in the bow that yelled at my husband who was steering that there was something in the tunnel, so he slowed down approaching, then the canoeist came paddling past on the wrong side, though this could be because slowing right down my husband had lost control and the boat had drifted into the side.

Complete idiot

It was the second canoeist that was the complete idiot, and I make no excuses for the description, as this one had no light, that they are supposed to have, but how they can have a 'bright white light' baffles me, for they have to use both hands to propel the canoe, and can hardly have a heavy light on their heads, and should the idea be to have one on the boat itself it would be just a few inches above water level, that a narrowboat steerer at the back of a long boat would never be able to see.

This particular canoeist obviously had a death wish, as the first we knew about him was his flirting past in the dark—we never saw him coming, just a shape low in the water, that startled us both, when we heard this man's voice complaining of not having enough space or something.  We were both so shocked we just did not take it in. Then he was gone.

Who will be blamed?

I am amazed that those at Canal & River Trust have even considered allowing canoes through tunnels used by steel narrowboats weighing many tons. When the two meet, as they obviously will—either head-on or the canoe and its occupant crushed into the side of the tunnel—who is going to get the blame for the death?

It should be the fool(s) who thought up this most dangerous concept.