Monthly Archives: November 2022

the voyage of friendship – a new year

the voyage of friendship

a new year

Hello again friends and Happy new year to all.

I'm back on board Therapy following a quiet Christmas and a brilliant New Year holiday with all our children and grandchildren.

The boat survived being locked and moored up at Abingdon for a week or so and a driech Saturday morning saw me re-stocking and checking before taking off again for her last couple of days on the Thames. Am I sensible, out in the cold getting soaked? I wasn't 100% sure as I waved to Ewan and cast off again.

My companions for this leg were to be Lynn and Chris from Lambourn but both had been poorly and couldn't make it. I hope you're both better soon and will join me further on. However my son Stephen, here for the holidays with his wife and baby, had just had his own plans cancelled and was serendipitously available. His Vietnamese wife found it rather cold but made sure we all had supplies of hot chocolate. It was lovely to be back on my journey despite the rain and great to spend bonus time with my son. As the sun set, we moored up at Iffley lock and walked into the village for

Sally Kershaw with her son Stephen

I was very lucky that my week off had been dry and the current of the Thames had not been strong. However, by the next day the rain had changed that and yellow boards on the locks indicated that current was increasing. By the time we reached Osney lock, the last one on the Thames before we needed to turn off and on to the Oxford canal, the boards were red, which means strong current, moor up immediately.

What should I do? If I didn't get through today it could be a week before the water drops, or even longer. Friends are scheduled to meet me in Oxford and lock closures further on mean that I need to get onto the more benign canal and away from the mercies of the river. Also, we had only half a mile to go before the turnoff. I made my mind up when a small riverboat, the only other moving craft we'd seen all weekend, joined us in the lock. If he was up for it, so was I.

The current was very strong as we left the lock and I bravely left the driving to Stephen. Even with high revs, Therapy struggled to move forward in the current but we carefully and patiently pushed on.

We could see a low bridge on our right and the small channel we needed to steer down. The water level was high and the current flowing very fast- would we even make it under the bridge? We needed to go through in the centre to avoid knocking the equipment stored on the roof.​ I feel sure that my orders, such as "no steer, left" and "quick, put her in reverse" did nothing to help, but Stephen, with the bravado of a young man who had never driven a narrow boat before, took her successfully through and out of the raging current of the Thames, suffering only a telling off from a resident boat owner for going too fast.

piloting a narrowboat in the rain

But now ahead of us was an even lower bridge, apparently one of the lowest canal bridges in the country, I was later told. We ducked our heads to avoid losing them and groaned as the precious bicycle on the roof was scraped and thrown about by the rafters. But we were off the Thames and onto the gentle Oxford canal. The bike had a buckled wheel and broken breaks, but the journey will go on!

We moored up close to the railway station where I walked my hero son and his family to catch their train to Gatwick airport from where he would fly back to Berlin. My voyage has resumed and I'm looking forward to travelling with friends through Oxford tomorrow and further north to see where our adventures will take us.

Take care, have fun in 2015 and please meet me if you can.

Love from Sally

iwa waterways for today 2

iwa waterways for today

environmental benefits

IWA’s new Waterways for Today report highlights Environmental benefits of the waterways

Welcome back to this blog series from the Inland Waterways Association (IWA). Last time, we looked at the economic and financial benefits of the waterways as outlined in the IWA’s recently launched report – Waterways for Today – which highlights 12 Major Benefits of Britain’s Inland Waterways network. In the second in this series of four articles, we are looking at the key ENVIRONMENTAL benefits of the waterways.

These benefits are for both the natural and the built environment, highlighting how waterways reconnect disparate habitats and provide opportunities for biodiversity net gain. Heritage forms a large part of the environmental benefits of the waterways. With historic buildings and structures linked to their industrial past, waterways form a vast open-air heritage network, accessible to everyone and helping to bring history to life both now and in the future. The waterways can also play a vital role in sustainability through flood and drought mitigation and water transfer amongst other possible solutions to the impact of climate change.

Why are these blue-green corridors so vital for the environment?

Our waterways accommodate many protected species including water voles, otters, native crayfish and rare aquatic plants. The offside banks of canals and rivers offer largely undisturbed homes for wildlife to flourish. There are currently many different strategies being developed across the country to enhance and restore habitats located on and near waterways, these will vastly improve ecological connectivity between them.

Waterways heritage is holistic; it is not only the buildings and structures but also the landscape, traditions and culture that make the waterways such an important record of our industrial past. This built environment needs protecting. Most of the structures were built in the 18th and 19th centuries and without sufficient funding and sensitive restoration, they run the risk of falling into disrepair and disappearing forever.

River Lee Navigation by Chris Brooke

Opportunities for funding and improvement

With the Environment Act 2021 now requiring most development schemes in England to deliver a biodiversity net gain of at least 10% and maintain it for at least 30 years, there is an opportunity for the waterways to become the recipients of offsite biodiversity credits where a developer cannot achieve the targets on their own site. For this to come about, local authorities and developers need to be made aware of just how important the waterways are to the improvement of the local environment. This is a key focus of activity for the IWA’s local branches.

IWA is also campaigning for the improvement of water quality across the inland waterways network. It is all very well encouraging biodiversity, but in order for it to be maintained, there needs to be a significant improvement in water quality, especially in urban areas and those areas where there are high levels of run off from cultivated fields.

Canals mitigating some of the impact of climate change

Waterways have the potential to address many impacts of climate change through mitigating flooding and droughts, transferring drinking water supplies and generating hydropower. They can also provide active travel and low-carbon transport routes. Sustainable fuel, increased numbers of electric charging points and other associated infrastructure will also help keep emissions from boats down. Moving goods by water is intrinsically more energy efficient than road or rail but more investment and incentives are required if this is ever going to become a viable option.

IWA is campaigning for the use of open waterways for water transfer as opposed to costly pipeline schemes. Using the open channels will help preserve heritage, improve biodiversity, attract wildlife and boost social and amenity values through recreational use.

gone fishing on the Chesterfield Canal

Some statistics in the report include:

  • 80% of people think local heritage makes their area a better place to live
  • Hundreds of Conservation Areas include canals, which are then afforded greater protection from insensitive development
  • Navigable inland waterways are home to over 100 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • More than 1000 waterway-based county wildlife sites are an integral part of the UK’s Nature Recovery Network
  • The waterways network has a huge capacity to carry freight. One 500-tonne capacity barge can replace 25 lorries, which has a significant impact on keeping CO2 emissions down
  • Research by the University of Manchester for the Canal & River Trust shows the presence of canal water in urban areas can cool Britain’s overheating cities by up to 1.6°C

To read the full IWA Waterways for Today report or to read the case studies related to the Environmental benefits of the waterways please visit:

Join us next time to look at the benefits that the waterways provide for LOCAL COMMUNITIES.