David: Kennet & Avon closures

Published: Thursday, 02 July 2020

THE K&A may be falling apart as far as navigation is concerned, with Church Bridge and Guyers lock closed, following the now completed stoppage at Greenham Lock.

But CaRT seem to have plenty of money to spend on towpaths. They have closed the towpath between bridges 50 and 58, just east of Newbury, for 'towpath improvement works' which are scheduled to last until September.

The mystery is what 'improvement' is necessary to a path that already has a hard, relatively smooth surface and is even wide enough (just) for social distancing.  It is well used by walkers and cyclists as it forms a pleasant traffic free route into Newbury.  I cannot see what improvements are necessary, unless they are going to tarmac it for the benefit of cyclists, thus turning it into a race track.  I very much hope the project is not being funded by CaRT, as three months work is going to be expensive.

Stoppage notices

The stoppage on the Leicester Arm because of the emergency lockdown for Leicester produced yet another of CaRT's stoppage notice errors.  The stoppage, according to Damien, is between Wanlip (bridge 18) and Newton Harcourt (bridge 52).  In fact the bridges at Newton Harcourt are numbered 80 and 81.  Bridge 52 is in the middle of nowhere between Foxton and Husbands Bosworth and since I am hoping to go that way next week I hope they have got the number wrong.

More new guides

Coinciding nicely with the end (I hope) of the long cruising lay-off, Michael Pearson has produced no less that three updated editions of his Canal Companions, for the South Midlands, Welsh Waters and Oxford/Grand Union.  In the introduction to the last of these he reflects that in the first edition of 1990 there were 27 hire bases and six off-line marinas.  The current figures are 13 hire bases and 25 marinas, reflecting the huge shift in emphasis from hiring to ownership of boats.

One can only hope that there will be a sufficiently large number of people moving from hiring to ownership in the future to buy the vast fleet of private boats as their owners retire.  If not, we are going to see an awful lot more boats used for residency rather then cruising.  I hope CaRT have a long term plan to address this.

David Hymers