Victor wonders how much of the system is open this Easter

Published: Sunday, 17 April 2022

AS THE stoppages pile-up being reported by our Keith Gudgin, I wonder just how much of the system is actually open this Easter?

We have not been in a position to report these stoppages but I can tell you that up to the present this April—the start of the seasonthere have been 16 stoppages under that all too familiar notice 'Navigation closed'.

And the poor Leeds & Liverpool has had more than its fair share, with first Blackburn Flight closed.  Then came the Mickleswaite Swing Bridge biting the dust, with Johnson's Hillock then closed, then the entrance to Canning River Entrance Gate in Liverpool out of action. Already four stoppages!

We are surely all aware of the deplorable state of the swing bridges that are crying out for maintenance, with another couple giving up the ghost on the Kennet & AvonCranwell's and Padworth both breaking down so closing the navigation.

Then comes the Calder & Hebble closed for an 'undetermined time', whilst contractors attempt to come to grips with something it is clear they know little abouthence the months required to repair.

What a difference

It was way back in 1997, having our own boat we took two long cruises a year, cruising everywhere including the Kennet & Avon in 2001, the Rochdale in 2002, the then recently reopened Huddersfield Narrow in 2003, followed by the length of the Leeds & Liverpool in 2005.  And ner a stoppage anywhere, under the then British Waterways whose mandate was certainly to keep all its waterways in good working order, especially at the start of the season when all its maintenance would have been completed.

Here we are at another start of the season under the mandate of Canal & River Trust with 16 stoppages and just 17 days into the first month. One thing for sure, I should not like to venture a cruise on any of those canals today.

I can but offer you good luck in your choice of cruisingyou are certainly going to need it.

I don't get it

With the need for the government wanting all the cash it can get at the moment after the massive amounts spent on warding off Coronavirus and now that madman piling on massive more expense by invading Ukraine, it seems very strange to me that Canal & River Trust wants to put in for the extension for its government grant—that is not due until 2027.

Strange indeed whilst the government is under so much monetary pressure, for it certainly is not in a position to be generous.

Or perhaps there will be little left to save in five years.

Yet another

So we have yet another 'deep and large void' appearing under a lock, this time Elland Lock on the Calder & Hebble.  We all know it's not just a matter of filling it, but contractors taking months to sort it out.

The similar situation of a void at Ripon Lock took over two months to repair, that proved to be a bit of a disaster for five months later, last December, a 'void' closed it again.

Though this time there was a somewhat haphazard method of allowing boats through, it has not proven too reliable, and it is still not repaired.

It's a narrow canal

So there was a stoppage reported on the Ashby, caused by a tree falling into the waterway, partially blocking the canal.

We were told by the trust of this stoppage with the added information that whilst narrowboats will be able to get through wide-beams may struggle.

Wide-beams? On a narrow canal? Obviously 'they' are not aware of the narrow Atherstone Flight or the narrow stop lock at Hawkesbury to get to the Ashby?  Yes, they will certainly struggle.

Victor Swift