The inability to plan an extended cruise

Published: Friday, 06 March 2020

Several months ago you requested information on boaters who had been approached for a survey by the Canal & River Trust, write Stewart and Kerry, of Nb Blue Griffin.

Much to our surprise we received one yesterday.  We completed the survey stressing our concerns with the deterioration of the network.  Highlighting several examples on the Oxford Canal.

We await (not holding our breath) any reaction.  Please see below the details of the only open question:

Main concern inability to plan

'Our main concern is the inability to plan an extended cruise in the (once open season the summer).  We have been boating on the canals for over 20 years and the maintenance issues are a major concern to our enjoyment of the canals.

The slow deterioration of the Oxford Canal is disappointing.  As an example the offside top paddle at Northbrook Lock has been out of action on and off for years more often out of use.  Although Claydon and Napton flights have seen some work take place, they are still in poor condition.

Green Lock in Kidlington will fail in the near future as the top beam on the lower gate is rotted through and the top gate will not open all the way scratching our boat every time.

We could keep going with other examples, but we really hope that as the navigation authority you are aware of all your outstanding maintenances issues. (If you are not that is even more concerning).

We have tried to plan our two main extended five weeks cruise for this year, but are unable to as the number of current stoppages in place (as of 4/3/20) is stopping us.  Our fear is that we will be trapped behind a stoppage and not be able to return to our home moorings.  Major failures of the canals are becoming common with not just weeks to repair but months if not years.

On a positive note the level of help from volunteer lockkeepers has greatly improved in quality and Increased numbers of flights this past year.  We were pleasantly surprised to receive sensible and friendly help on the upper Stratford, Hatton and Claydon for the first time. (Napton the only exception first lock only as usual.)

We have also found that customer services have remained very helpful especially when we have experienced problems.  If you were able to improve the canal to the same level as the towpath?  You would greatly improve the enjoyment of boaters.'