Victor discovers towpath visitors are up by 300 millions!

Published: Tuesday, 02 November 2021

THE Canal & River Trust has released it Annual Report but dear Thomas has refused to publish it!

Why, may you ask? For starters the number of yearly visitors to the towpaths has gone up by another 300,000,000 at a stroke with our now being told from the unbelievable 450,000,000 a year it has risen to a totally ridiculous 750,000,000 visitors a year!

OvergrownTowpathYes, my friends, that's right—750 millions!

So let's work it out shall we?  It tells it has 2,000 miles of waterway, so dividing those millions by 2,000 leaves us with 37,500 visitors a mile.  So dividing once again by 365, the number of days in a year leaves us with 103 visitors for every mile of every canal every day.  Do you believe it?

As an example I'll take the Four Counties Ring that is 110 miles.  So there will be 11,330 people on the towpaths in any one day according to CaRT!  Cruising around 10 miles in a morning we should have seen around 1,000 visitors, but did we hell as like!  How about you who did the Four Counties? Did you? I certainly didn't.

The two neglected towpaths shown, above and below, would hardly have many visitors a day.

I well remember the long, stretch of the Shroppie between Wheaton Aston and Market Drayton, with only a couple of buildings along the way with ner a sight of anything other than an occasional duck!  More like three a mile than than 103!

TowpathOxfordBut how about our cruise from Cromwell to Keadby on the Tidal Trent, all of 27 miles, when we saw about two dozen people all the way down—and that included Gainsborough where there wasn't even a towpath, just a road on the high bank.  So where would all those calculated towpath visitors be instead?

And in bad weather?  I remember reporting seeing only three on the Oxford Canal on a five hours cruise—and that we are told is the second most popular waterway!  Mind you, I expect you'll all have similar tales to tell.

Even in London, except for the cyclists, there are very few towpath visitors but for those crowded around the waterside pubs. Perhaps the numbers of people in the pub yards were calculated then multiplied 2,000 times to get the many millions!

All in all it makes the claim so utterly ridiculous, and as an example of the figures of the trust's Annual Report, little wonder Thomas gave it a miss.

Better by water?

Three women reported assaulted on the towpath in just a few days last week doesn't give much confidence of Better by Water. One thing is for sure—the number of towpath attacks is increasing.

These days, for many, it certainly is not 'better by water' as we are so often led to believe it is.  There were five reported either assaulted on the towpath or found dead in the water in a week.  And then the incidents of anglers—particular old peoplebeing pushed off the towpaths into the water, with no care by the culprits who leave them, not bothering if they drown.

towpath for walkersThe problem of course is that lone people on towpaths are easy targets, for towpaths have benefits for those up to no good—often no buildings overlooking them from where they can be seen and the towpaths handily upgraded for a quick easy getaway on a bike.

And now our friends at Canal & River Trust have given them another advantage—of canalside vegetation being allowed to grow to prevent anyone on a boat seeing their nefarious activity. (As shown.)

One thing for sure it certainly is not Better by Water, for many people nowadays as the trust would have us believe.  I'm certainly more wary when walking the towpaths than I was in the past.

And now cameras

BodyCamwera300The photograph of a boater walking to a lock with a camera fastened to his chest must have sent shivers down the collective spines of those at Ivory Towers, for if this should be a regular occurrence it will certainly make those visitors more wary.

I can see there being an uptake in such cameras, especially for women walking alone, as would-be attackers are going to be very wary if they can see the flashing light of a camera recording their every move.

Just one thing though, it would not matter with a fella carrying a hefty windlass, but visitors, especially ladies, would have to fix the camera securely, making certain it cannot be quickly ripped off.


And still more of crap claims from those on high on the number of boats licenced. This tends to vary but we have seen it published that 98% of boats on CaRT waters are licenced.

OldLicenceHarking back to our Trent & Mersey cruise I thought I would try and discover the remaining 2% that were not licenced, but passing by Anderton there were more boats without licences showing than with!  Here's one with.

And Our Man at the Summit (Grand Union) told me a similar tale:

"I've just got home after walking the dog around the reservoirs.

"I checked every boat, about 15, for valid licences, and didn't see a single one. All those visible had expired, those where no licence was visible could have been on the other side of the boat."

And I see the actual date on new licences is now very small and difficult to read, which seems strange indeed.  Mind you, 'strange' seems to be the norm with this lot.  And having boaters print their own licences that fade in the sun after a few weeks seems the strangest of the lot.

Myself, I think they've lost the plot.

Victor Swift