Towpath closure will cause mayhem

Published: Monday, 17 May 2021

I'm moored near Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey and there is a current notice on CaRT's website of a nine weeks towpath closure, writes Keith Gudgin.

It tells that the towpath is to be closed from Iron bridge 72a (also known as Fancy bridge) to the footbridge at the junction (Haywood bridge 109 on Staffs & Worcs) from 24th of May to 26th July inclusive, which I calculate as nine weeks.

'Better surface'

There are notices tied to the mooring rings here that say the closure is for six weeks! I understand the towpath is to be dug up and relaid with a so called 'better' surface.

I have to say that I consider this an absolutely stupid time to close this very popular and much used section of towpath for over two months at the height of what looks like being a very busy boating season.

It will be made even worse by the highly probable increased visitor numbers to Shugborough Hall via Essex bridge now that they are allowed to be open.

Play havoc with boaters

It's going to play havoc with boaters trying to operate Haywood Lock if you can't walk from the lock moorings and go under the bridge to the lock while they've got it dug up?  Today, I was at the lock and at least nine boats went through it in the hour and a half I was there? Seven boats went through it before 9 o'clock this morning. I know, they were moored near me overnight and had gone by then. Boats have been passing me in both directions all day, it's very busy here at the moment!!

If there is a queue of boats waiting to go up the lock where are the boaters going to get off their boats to hold them while waiting their turn. You can't do it before Iron bridge, as you can't see the lock before you go under it and will have passed it before you realise you are in a long queue with no towpath access?

Create conflict with workers

This is going to create a conflict with the workmen if they have to stop every time a boater needs to walk from the lock moorings to the lock. It may even mean that work will not be able to take place for extended periods during the day?

As far as I can see there is no way round the bridge by the lock either, you must go under the bridge to get from the lock moorings to the lock!

Nudging the lock gates and getting off your boat the other side of the bridge is not on either as there would be more then a small possibility that a boat would be coming out of the lock and there is no room to pass under the bridge!

Single handed boaters will find it particularly problematic if they can't tie up their boats at the lock landing.

Should be winter works job

Boaters may wish to avoid this area for the duration?  A recipe for chaos is the only way to describe it?  Common sense say's this should be a winter works job.

Great thinking from CaRT, but as you know, only pedestrians and their friends the cyclists matter to them, not boaters!