Boaters, anglers and walkers prefer high towpath hedges!

Published: Saturday, 12 March 2022

IT CERTAINLY amazes me, and there's little doubt it will you too.

AshOxfordCanal & River Trust would have us believe that from the feedback from its consultation it learned that boaters, anglers, walkers and everybody else who uses the towpaths are in favour of up to one metre width of hedge between the waterway and towpath—basically to save mowing to the edge.

This of course means the vast areas of vegetation that are allowed to grow, will prevent boaters being able to moor, anglers will be unable to fish and adult walkers may not even be able to see over the top and young children will most certainly not.

Oh yes, CaRT do promise a space for mooring every kilometre, but as this will be decided more that likely by a non boater so will that space be any good?  Will we be able to properly moor, will there be enough width of waterway or will there even be enough depth?  And how about the many anglers, do they have to share that space and what about when they organise competitions?  [The towpath is on the right in the picture above and together with the one below are on the second most popular waterway—the Oxford, as an example of what is to come.]

OvergrownTowpathBut what really bothers me, and that I have previously told, what about those adventurous young children, like the one at Rotherham who saw the vegetation by the side of the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation as a play area, but who then fell into the waterwayand drowned?

But it would seem this does not enter into the grand planthe danger to young children of having what will be lush vegetation to play in, 'hiding' the real danger of the waterway.

Be it on its own head, should another child lose its life through the need to save cash, which really, is what it is all about.

Here's what we are actually told—believe it if you will, but I certainly don't.

'During, and after, last year’s trial we collected feedback from boaters and towpath users, advisory groups, colleagues and specialists, and have been undertaking periodic spot checks on the trial areas, which covered 375 miles (around a fifth of our network). The majority of the feedback was in favour of increasing the amount of habitat fringe, with certain amendments to our mowing specifications to ensure that the towpaths are suitable for all, especially boaters'.

How on earth not being able to get to a bank to moor due to vegetation is 'suitable for all especially boaters? This really beggars believe.

CaRT of course tell us of the 'benefits' of its non-mowing campaign such as cost savings that will allow more investment in other areas, such as managing overgrown vegetation on the ‘offside’. Oh yes, and a reduction in CO2 emissions. But how?

So that's it, pure and simple, nothing more than cost saving—at the expense of us users.

But what about...

This winter there have been many cancellations of works—I believe 13 in all, with no particular reasons.

So do you think for one minute that what CaRT tells below will come to pass (sorry but have to quote yet again!):

'From April 2022 we’re committing to cutting towpath, locks and moorings four times per year between April and July, plus the full width cut between September and December, with the August towpath cut removed as grass growth is limited. Local teams will have the option of carrying out an additional cut if and where needed'.

Without a single cancellation...?

Is something being done?

I was pleased to learn that there is a possibility that the frequently failing Selby Swing Bridge is to have its worn-out mechanism replaced, that will hopefully stop its failings, and at the same time stop the many expensive visits by contractors with their wasteful 'repairs'.

With the ever constant swing bridge failures these days surely it would be a sensible policy to overhaul and replace worn-out parts of them all, that would certainly save the expense of so many slap-happy repairs.

At the same time making sure that boaters can cruise such as the Leeds & Liverpool without the worry of being stopped by a failed swing bridge...

As a last word...

With all those high hedges 'twixt towpath and waterway that we are promised, what about that much preached 'wellbeing for everyone' of being by water—when it can't be be seen...?  Daft ain't it?

Victor Swift