Boat Parks anyone?

Published: Friday, 26 June 2020

IF YOU live in the north of England, your opportunities to go cruising for weeks at a time, are becoming less each year, writes Ralph Freeman.

There are now the summer stoppages, to do 'emergency' repairs that should have been done during the previous winter stoppage season, plus CaRT now fails to store winter rainfall in it's reservoirs then claims there is a water shortage due to drought.  More closures are the result!

Closure by stealth

Anyone would think CaRT wants to drive away boating customers so it can close it's troublesome northern canals?  That was one ploy used by British Rail to enable the closure of the Settle Carlisle Railway, remember that?

The other tactic BR used was to do as little maintenance as possible and then play the 'safety card'. In the Settle & Carlisle case it was the Ribblehead Viaduct.  Does all this sound familiar?  Who at CaRT has/had connections with British Rail I wonder?

towpath trustLastHidden agenda

CaRT's antipathy towards boat owners makes me wonder if there is not a hidden agenda to close the more remote canals and convert them into cycle tracks on behalf of Sustrans (and the government?). 

It's not hard to do.  Just take off the lock gate and fill the canal base with hardcore.  (To save CaRT a six figure sum, I have put together a logo for their next re-branding of CaRT to reflect this course of action!)

Floating cottages

I wonder what percentage of boat owners now cruise the system extensively?  Will this still be possible in the future I wonder?  Certainly I have noticed, over the last decade, the rise in numbers of 'floating cottages'.  These are boats moored in marinas situated in/or near attractive countryside. These boats take the place of a country/holiday cottage and very rarely, if ever, venture out onto the system itself.

(Marinas like this type of moorer as they inflict very little wear & tear and often deposit large amounts of cash at the on site pub/restaurant at weekends and school holiday periods).

Boat parks

In many parts of the country there are large expanses of water (in the Trent Valley for instance) that are available when gravel extraction stops.  My suggestion is this:

How about linking a few of these adjacent pits together to and create a different set of facilities in each lake?  You could still take an evening cruise to the pub/restaurant in the next lake should you fancy a quick burst on the tiller, with this arrangement.

Lower overheads

If these boat parks are not connected to the system, then boaters don't need a license, their insurance would most likely be much cheaper, as there are no 'dangerous' lock & rivers to navigate, plus the marina owner would not have to pay CaRT the onerous 'Connection Levy'.

So if the system continues to fall apart at it's present rate and CaRT's attitude to boaters continues, might boat parks be an attractive proposition to a large number of boat owners?  Just a thought...