Had a good boating holiday

Published: Friday, 03 December 2021

SINCE taking a boat holiday in September I was made aware of your publication, writes Joseph Naylor.

And so also aware of the way you portray the work of British Waterways [Canal & River Trust] showing that it is not capable of keeping it in good working order, but have to say that this was not my own experience during our boat holiday on the Shropshire Union Canal.

AutherleyLockShown how it worked

I picked up the boat, or what you call a narrowboat, at where that canal meets the other one [Staffs & Worcs] and was shown how it all worked and taken through the little lock there and shown twice how they are worked but told they are a lot deeper and when coming back always keep to the front when letting the water out, that I was told later was a ridge where gates close onto and on which a boat can be caught and sink, though the person instructing me left that bit out, as he obviously did not want to scare me. (But I was told later by another person on a boat.)

The man instructing told me where to keep the finger on the dial showing the revs of the engine that would be the proper speed on a canal but to slow the boat down if going past other boats that were not moving.  And so together with my wife we set off on our holiday, but it was days before we reached the expected lock and were surprised how deep it was and it was then I realised we both could not operate the lock together as we thought but one had to be on the boat to drive it into the lock and out again, so my wife did not like the idea of being down on the boat, so she operated the locks and soon picked it up though a lot different from the little one we were taught on.

Audlem FlightSwapped jobs

We noticed that woman were driving boats, so Chris took over, though timidly, but soon had confidence and eventually we swapped jobs from time to time I operating the locks whilst she steered the boat having overcome her fear of the depth. We had both gained confidence as we encountered more locks then eventually reaching the long line of locks at Audlem, and by that time were really enjoying our holiday that we had booked for a fortnight.

Eventually we had to turn back, but were surprised that though we were travelling the same route it looked very different, that I expect it being from a different angle, and this time remembered the advice about taking the boat to the front of the lock when lowering that was much easier as the boat just stopped there, though it was at first strange operating the locks in a different way.

I am sorry for going on so much, but want to get across that we found nothing wrong with anything, having a most enjoyable holiday, so find it strange that there are all those problems you cite, or perhaps we had just been lucky and picked the right canal to holiday on.  But we shall definitely be doing it again though perhaps on a different canal.