A total disaster

Published: Thursday, 03 January 2019

BEING at something of a loose end over Christmas I took the opportunity to compose an article of my summer's boating, writes Andrew Gold.

But offering it to a well known publication I was told yesterday that it did not 'meet its policy', soon realising my offering was not tame enough, but seeing the offerings in your publication I can see I have a better chance.

A full stop

My partner and I had recently retired and having previously purchased a 54ft narrowboat decided to spend July and August on the attractive Pennines canals starting on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, moving up to Leeds to start our meander, but 'meander' it was not, it was all too often a full stop.

CrabtreeEarly on it was not too bad with just a few stops owing to broken swing bridges, that only caused a shortage of food being unable to get to the shops. Talking to regular users of the canal and looking myself I can but agree with them that many of the swing bridges are in a parlous state and so little wonder they are breaking down time and time again. Crabtree Bridge is reported as breaking down sometimes twice a day in the summer.

Things worse

Then things got worse, as eventually we reached Wigan and turned to retrace our steps but things by the middle of July had drastically altered with the flights of locks only open at certain times and then we found ourselves completely marooned as the lock flights were chained up.

1w garave top lockWe had moored just above Gargrave Locks, and with the locks completely impassable, so obviously like many other boaters had little option but to leave the boat and head back home with a long looked forward to holiday ruined. (The photograph shows Gargrave Top Lock.)

Millions of gallons wasted

Spending time reading through your site I am able to confirm your remarks about the waste of water through leaking locks with it must be millions of gallons of water running over into culverts. But this is not the only problem as a fellow boater pointed out, the lack of dredging means that the canal holds less water, space being taken up with silt, so more quickly presents a problem.

Neither my partner nor I can see any future in our boating the Pennines, backed of course by the three main canals being shut down over the summer, so our boating experience was very short indeed, with the boat now most reluctantly sold.

(I trust that this article does not upset your policy, for it is a true account of the poor state of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal causing not only my partner and I, but many others having their holidays ruined, by as you so rightly say, the lack of maintenance. A.G.)

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