Yearly Archives: 2022

wendy witch

featured roving canal trader

wendy witch

I live aboard Merly B, a 67' Tyler Wilson nb built in 1988, with my husband whom we call Mr. O and Henry the dog. We're continuous cruisers.

Wendy Witch and Mr O

Wendy Witch

We bought our first boat, Irene, in 2001. She was a 57' iron BCN boat built in 1927, a beautiful boat with great character. She had a 3 pot lister (situated inside next to the loo!), 12v power only and a foot pump if we wanted water, no hot water. She had several leaks, every time it rained we got all the pans out to catch the water. It was damp, smelly and noisy. We were so excited to be living afloat that none of these things mattered.

A few years later we decided to have her lifted out and surveyed. Complete disaster! Her hull was extremely thin in places, she had rotted from the inside due to the leaks. Always get a survey before buying! We learnt the hard way.

We were advised to weigh her in and use the money for another boat, but we had fallen in love with her and so decided to have her overplated. 18 months later she was floating again once more, that was a great day!

Wendy Witch - Irene before welding

Wendy Witch - Irene after welding

In 2018 we bought Merly B and we feel so blessed, another beautiful boat but this time with hot running water, proper plug sockets, lights, even a heated towel rail! Also an engine conveniently placed under the back deck, not inside the boat! This is our forever home.Merly B narrowboat

my business

My Wendy Witch business began in 2000. I'm a White Witch and Celebrant. I have been pagan all my life. My beliefs and skills have been passed down through generations and I'm proud of my heritage.

I have been reading the Tarot since I was a child. During the winter my Tarot readings are on board, in the warm weather outside on the towpath. The readings are an hour long, I don't like to rush and we have tea, coffee and sometimes cake!

Wendy Witch, Hallowe'en

a selection of Tarot Cards

inside narrowboat Merly B

I also conduct Handfasting Ceremonies (Pagan Weddings), Baby Naming Ceremonies and Memorial Services. These celebrations are becoming very popular as many people are looking for alternatives to traditional ceremonies. Pagan Rituals have very few rules so the Ceremonies are customised to suit and every Ceremony is different.

Handfasting Ceremony conducted by Wendy Witch

baby naming ceremony conducted by Wendy Witch

As a Pagan I celebrate the 8 sabbats or festivals throughout the year. I even have a Pagan Altar outside my boat. My altar is a log which I keep on the roof whilst travelling and place on the towpath when we moor up. I decorate it with nature's gifts - flowers, fruit, seeds, stones, feathers etc and redress it for every Sabbat. It makes a great talking point for passersby!

Altar on towpath beside Merly B narrowboat

decorated altar on towpath beside narroboat Merly B

During the summer I have a plant stall with annuals and perennials which I grow on the roof. All the proceeds go to The Huntington's Disease Association. The only thing I initially missed when we moved onboard is my garden but I soon realised that it's amazing what you can grow in a pot!

Living on a boat has been a dream ever since I can remember, making it a reality has been a wonderful experience. We are within nature, detached from 'normal' life. Many of my customers remark that they never knew this canal life was here, even though they drive over it often; "Do you live here all the time?"

The boat people, the wildlife, the seasons, the freedom...all of these things make the canal special, like a long, wet village.

I am truly at home living on the cut, I feel I belong here and here is where I will stay.

where have all the birdies gone?

where have all the birdies gone?

I’m back!
Let’s have a show of hands - who’s missed me?
Oh, no one eh?

Well never mind, I’ll carry on regardless, while you all uncomfortably shuffle your feet thinking of the mental anguish you’ve inflicted on me with your noncommittal attitude.
See, that’s better. I heard that, ‘where’ve you been?’ I’ll tactfully ignore the rest of the comment, ‘and why the bloody hell have you come back?'

I’ve been writing see, no not for this wonderful magazine, but plays. Yes, that’s right, plays as, ‘in the theatre.’ I’m a bit of a thespian don’t ya know.
No, madam, those are ladies who fancy other ladies, a thespian is - oh, never mind.
Anyway, like I said, I’m back. And that brings me to the topic of this article, which is...
You again. What now?
No it’s not another ‘festive scribbling,’ as you so eloquently put it. I live not far from Wolverhampton and I haven’t heard Noddy Holder holler, ‘It’s Chrrrrristmassss’ yet.
No, this one’s a bit more serious I’m afraid.

You see - and I should say that this started in the spring - that I was a little perplexed.
A good friend of mine used to greet the Spring Equinox with the rather charming saying of, ‘Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is?’
And I did.
Wonder that is.
And I’ve spent most of the rest of the year wondering as well.

Now you may well say that there are more serious things to wonder and worry about. Climate change, the Ukrainian conflict, the cost of living crisis and the fact that number 10 Downing Street seems to have had a revolving door fitted.
But wonder I have.

Where for instance are all the ducks? Have you noticed as you’ve been cruising along the cut? It seems to me that there are considerably less than usual.

misty waters on Staffs and Worcs

I notice these things you see, because as I wander the towpaths with Blue he likes to chase them. And he’s been getting considerably less exercise than in previous years, meaning that I have to do more walking. That’s Border Collies for you. He’s had to resort to chasing mountain bikers, and they’re not too happy about it I can tell you.

And it’s not just ducks. What about our little feathered friends that flit hither and thither midst the hedgerows, twixt the breaking of day and the lowering of eve’s dark mantle?
I know, that was nearly poetic wasn’t it?
There’s no tits - stop sniggering at the front. Or sparrows. Or swallows. Or kingfishers.
Crows - I think they’ve been murdered. I could go on.
O.k., there are a few about.
But not many.

bridge over Staffs and Worcs Canal

And then I was watching the telly the other night and...
Not Strictly, no.
Not I’m A Non-Entity Get Me Out Of Here either.
How about that Hatt Mancock though eh? At least he’s been eating bollocks instead of talking it I suppose.

Anyway I was watching the news and they were talking about the feathered version of Covid. And I thought, ‘Oh dear.’ It made me really sad to be honest. No wonder there’s been a dearth of activity in our skies.
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting - well culled actually. Along with our turkey dinner (by the way, aren’t sprouts the devil’s testicles. Blaghh!)
And that ain’t fair either.
Why not?
I’ll tell you.
If one gets it, then the whole flock gets the chop. That’s just not cricket if you ask me.

Before you all start berating me, let me say that it is a terrible disease and a horrible way to go. But surely they won’t all get it? Surely there are some that are resistant? Shouldn’t they allow them to live in order to build up some immunity? I don’t know,
I’m not a vet, or a scientist, but it does seem crazy to me.

Let’s face it, I had Covid this time last year and DEFRA didn’t come marching along to this charming park home site adjacent the cut to have me and the rest of the inhabitants shot. (I have to call it a park home site officially - I call my place a caravan, but that gets the neighbours up in arms. We’ve gone posh).
Oh, and I did notice the murmuration of disappointment (see what I did there?) when I revealed that I hadn’t been shot. Thanks a bunch!

So I just wanted to say that when those of you who haven’t foregone the consuming of our fellow earthly companions in favour of piles of the devil’s you know what’s, please offer up a little prayer of thanks this Christmas for the meaty treat on your plate. She was one of the lucky ones. At least she made it to Christmas.

Got to go, I think I hear Noddy clearing his throat. Either that or they’re dredging the Staffs and Worcs again.

Have a good one folks.

snippets from another life

snippets from another life

a little seasonal Mayfly tale

I often wonder what Jim and Amanda would be doing at this time of year at the various times in their joint adventures. My guess is they could well be looking along the canal from one of the many narrow waisted red brick bridges that carry a path that comes from nowhere in particular and leads somewhere even less significant.

Mayfly books by Mike Nye

As darkness eventually falls they will probably return to the shelter of their little boat and brew yet another mug of tea before turning in for the night.

Maybe it's unexciting, but to them it would be a pleasure beyond words. The clearness of an autumnal night, with fresh air blowing gently across the back of their little boat was always something too good to miss for the pair in the early days. Many conversations were had, and stories shared by the soft light of one of the old hurricane lamps they had. Sometimes they would talk, and others they would just sit and look at the night sky.

Mike Nye Mayfly Christmas

Mayfly was, and is, an easy little boat to like, and though as fragile as the lifestyle that had been landed on the pair, she wasn't one to let her occupants down. No matter what the day had thrown at the two unlikely friends, it was hard for either of them not to enjoy the life they were now living.

One morning, some months later, there was still plenty of snow about when they woke up and it was clear that a bit more would come but, despite the cold, Jim and Amanda were in optimistic mood.
“You know it's a bit daft for us to have slept on Fly when we could have been warmer in...” Amanda said.
“But we both wanted to be here,” Jim replied, cutting her sentence a little bit short. “It doesn't have to make sense, nothing does. When you think of it, when does anything make sense even when you’re normal.”
“Well, Mr Diogenes, thanks for calling me a freak. I'm still bagging the toilet though!” Amanda laughed. “I really wish we could have taken that part of the bungalow with us.”

Jim looked across the short distance from Mayfly to the little wooden building that was not much more than a summer house. It was hard to believe that Amanda had lived there by herself only months previously, and harder to believe what had happened in the intervening period.
“Are you sure you didn't stash one in that bag of yours,” he laughed. “You seemed to have plenty of things in it!”
“If I’d known all of the stuff that was going to happen I might just have taken a screwdriver to it and pushed it in my bag and all,” Amanda laughed. “But then there’s all the plumbing.”
Jim was still deep in thought when he heard her footsteps crunching across the fresh snow towards the place. He eventually set about lighting the Primus stove for the first cup of tea ready for her return. He thought for a moment and then lit the other one as he started work on an idea that had flashed across his mind.

mayfly books by Mike Nye

On her return, Amanda could hear the roaring, but waited until both stoves were off before she boarded the little boat.
“Was I really that long?” she asked.
“Why not enjoy the simple pleasure of a relaxed morning in the bog,” Jim smiled.
“I was thinking of doing a big fry up but then that probably wouldn't be all that sensible.”
“Not with Mum and Dad coming over,” Amanda laughed. “She said I looked really well when we got back, but I never could stop her trying to feed me up! That smells pretty good though Jimbo. What is it?” she asked as he handed her a plate.
“I was thinking of making something special, like an even bigger fry up than usual, then I remembered this one. It's sort of cinnamon toast only done in a frying pan,” he smiled.
“That and a mug of tea will hit the spot really well,” Amanda replied, looking across the stern of Mayfly and down the river. “Did we really just sail away like the owl and the pussycat and fix all that stuff? Or is this just a hallucination.”
“They didn’t have an outboard motor, but I heard some people say that all of life is an illusion, but I banged my head getting the cinnamon out from the deed box and that seemed pretty real,” Jim said.
“This toast seems pretty real too, and good. Eat yours whilst it's still hot won't you,” Amanda smiled.

mayfly books Mike Nye

The sky had been getting greyer as they spoke, and the crisp smell of frost began to give way to a slightly damper smell that was half river and half weather with a hint of boat and petrol thrown in for good measure. The first of the thick flakes of snow began to fall as Amanda finished her mug of tea and reached into her bag.
“I know we're skint,” she said, pulling out a couple of lengths of tinsel.
“It's O.K.” Jim replied, reaching into one of the other deed boxes and lifting out a very small artificial tree.
“Oh well,” Amanda laughed as they decorated the cockpit of their little boat.
“You'd better have this too,” she added, handing a little parcel to Jim.
“Thanks Mand,” Jim smiled, handing her a neatly wrapped package.
“Mayfly did us proud, she really did,” Amanda said thoughtfully. “Thanks for... Well just thanks.”
“Same goes to you, as well. I'm happy with the way it all turned out too,” Jim replied, “And you're right, I know what you're thinking.”
“We couldn't just ignore her, not today,” Amanda frowned. “Wouldn't be right.”
“Happy Christmas,” Jim said, kissing his friend.
“Yes Jimbo, it is one, and well, we should both, well... You know,” Amanda smiled, looking at Jim and then along the length of their little boat.
“Happy Christmas Mayfly,” they both said.

Jim and Amana Mayfly Books by Mike Nye

©2022 Michael Nye

water water everywhere and not a drop to drink

dawncraft chronicles

water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

I’ve had one of those 'you read it here first' brainwaves, so cheap and effective that it's criminal that my little brain didn’t come up with this years ago. Drip strips!

Most boats I have come across all suffer the same problem - water building up in the window mechanisms, over whelming the drain holes and flooding inside. I have even watched people remove them and re-bed them only to find it made little or no difference. Indeed, if you look at old boat brochures from the 1970s the stark difference between a Dawncraft and say a Broom, is the finishing details. Basically, we don’t have any: just pretty well as two burly blokes yanked it unwilling out of its mould and glued the top to the bottom. Quick trip to local hardware store and the cheapest plastic quadrant moulding I could buy and a tube of 'stick anything you like to whatever you like' and we are away.

Ok I did go so far as removing any old paint before doing this and then set about gluing the quadrant in above the windows, which oddly produced a rather pleasing curve, the type found on more expensive boats – which had built in drip strips. The results, staggering! No water enters the window channels at all. Spurred on by this and not wishing to waste half a tube of glue I did down the deck sides where the water always builds up against the cabin side, the front window and the canopy roof. Now, rather than water pooling and collecting under windows, in windows, running down windows turning them milky, it actually flows off the back of the boat.

drip strips

I know it’s been the driest summer on record but I have been noticing more and more water in the bilge. So I extended the canopy to cover the out board opening in the transom. I thought of all types of clever glass fibre panels that could do this and then came up with the cheapest option – add 3 feet of PVC to the bottom. This wasn’t as easy as it seems – or even seams. Luckily in my sail training days I became a dab hand with a sail maker's palm and sail needles, as it was eventually hand sewn. Top tip is to pierce the needle holes first with a small nail. A handy awl stitcher should be a must on any boat. Bored and with nothing on the tv, I set about the biggest task: making a winter bonnet out of one single piece of PVC that covers the canopy roof. I wanted it in one piece because after a while stitching leaks. It's not the prettiest of jobs but it’s incredibly effective – it seems to stop the condensation as well. Again, all done by hand. Top tip 2 If ever you try this single handed, buy some cheap awning clamps; I can guarantee that even on the calmest of days a wind will spook from nowhere and dump it in the canal.

Chuffed to bits with my latest improvements I returned on a wet Monday evening to check how much water was in the bilge. It was full, fuller than I have ever known it. I threw buckets of water over the canopy convinced it must be entering via the outboard well. Nothing. And worse still, I could hear water dripping and trickling. Slight panic mode, I hit the bilge pump switch and cleared it. But even after it was cleared, water was still trickling in. Ok start engine. Last resort, ram it on the slip way - anything but sink. I’ve written this many times before – Do not clad the inside of your hull below the water line, Torch in, got time to sound ship, every locker turned out every nook and cranny from bow to stern looking for a screw hole anything that is leaking.

interior of Dawncraft

The trickling noise stopped, but would start again if I moved my weight to port. Ok pump the dinghy up Anchor DT in basin and check outside hull in case we had been rammed and I was missing something on port side. Nothing, the boat is now all over the cabin sole, pans, ropes, fenders everything out. Perplexed, it's time for a coffee and a think. NO WATER, yet the log (and I always keep one) stated that I filled up 50 litres Sunday afternoon. The tank had split on one of the pipe joins- the fact that it was actually installed upside down so it filled from the bottom didn’t help. It was just quirk of fate that I happened to be on board as it was happening, me moving to port emptied the last of it.

Oh well I had a new water tank which I always wanted to put in the bilge floor so it didn’t upset the balance when being filled up and the following weekend was spent installing it. I have to say it was a pleasure to work in the cockpit without a dripping canopy. Had I paid attention I would have realised that this had started to leak a week or so ago hence the water.

autumnal vibes on the Huddersfield Narrow canal

canal wanderer

autumnal vibes on the Huddersfield Narrow canal

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. I love walking on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and seeing the stunning autumn colours and foliage for which this stretch of the canal is renowned. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is known as the “Everest” of the canal system, twenty miles in length and traverses through The Pennines with 74 locks. Its main attraction is the Standedge Tunnel, described by the superlatives being the longest, deepest, and highest in the country. I rode through the tunnel some years ago and the 2+ hour boat was certainly an interesting experience.

I chose to explore my favourite stretch of the canal which is west of the tunnel starting at Greenfield – a good starting point which the village has a railway station and good bus connections. This stretch from Greenfield to Uppermill never disappoints me because of the treelined paths and it is easy to be embraced with its bright and beautiful autumn colours. I drew inspiration just walking this stretch and it gave me a creative scope for painting and photography.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Dawn Smallwood

I painted the above scene where this stretch of canal runs along the River Tame. I was artistically inspired to paint the trees and their autumn colours. I used gouache as the paint medium.

Uppermill, once known for its wool and cotton industry, is a Saddleworth Village which the canal travels through. The highlight was to see the fallen leaves on the ground and walking through them; it was like being in an autumn wonderland with all the captivating colours.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal by Dawn Smallwood

This painting is based at Lock 21W in Uppermill. An Autumn hotspot where the leaves carpet the towpath. It was a sight to capture and savour and gouache is the paint medium used.

A notable attraction is the Saddleworth Viaduct which carries trains from Leeds/Huddersfield to
Manchester and Vice Versa. Just after is The Limekiln Café where you can enjoy coffee and cake on their canalside terrace.

Saddleworth Viaduct on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal

Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal

I used the Snapseed App, a free downloadable App, where multiple exposures can be created as shown in the photos of the Saddleworth Viaduct and Standedge Tunnel. I particularly combined the viaduct and the tunnel and their autumn foliage and water reflections.

I began ascending the canal after Dobcross, a nearby village, towards Standedge Tunnel. Being out on the Moors and admiring the November scenery was an experience! I eventually reached Standedge Tunnel and spent some time at the canalside, people and ducks watching. Before I turned back and descended, I stopped at The Diggle Lock, housed in the Warth Mill (once used for the Woollen Cloth Making industry) for a cocktail. The Diggle Lock is a shop as well as a restaurant which produces and sells amazing sourdough bread!

A wonderful afternoon out where one is enchanted with the autumn colours, and cannot help but be drawn into it artistically.

By Dawn Smallwood
Facebook: @Dawn S Art
Instagram: @artwithdawns

the voyage of friendship 3 – a new year

the voyage of friendship

part 3: 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.

iwa waterways for today

iwa waterways for today

economic benefits

IWA has recently launched a new report – Waterways for Today - looking at the 12 Major Benefits of Britain’s Inland Waterways Network.  

In this article – the first of four – we are looking at the three key FINANCIAL benefits of the waterways.  

These economic benefits include  waterways contributing to the economic recovery of the countrywith waterways projects regenerating both rural and urban areas and improving the lives of the  millions of people who live close to them or visit them regularly.  

Auchinstarry Marina

Waterways also bring  increased spend to local communities. Boat-based tourism and leisure activities contribute £2.5bn to the economy each year, with people on day trips, boating holidays  and those taking part in water-based activities spending even more in local pubs, cafés, restaurants and shops.  

The third economic benefit of the waterways is the  savings to the NHS and social care budgets. Waterways are well placed to improve the health, wellbeing and longevity of the many people living  near them, through increased physical activity and social prescribing.  

Sir David and Lady Sheila Suchet are quoted in the report saying that they have seen “first-hand how  waterway regeneration can act as a catalyst for the wider transformation of the whole community”.  

canoes on the Montgomery Canal

The economic benefits are extremely wide ranging, from macro-scale benefits such as helping national government to deliver post-Brexit and Covid-19 recovery programmes to smaller scale  benefits within individual local authority areas.  

Some statistics in the report include:  

  • The leisure marine industry supports 133,000 FTE (full time equivalent) jobs across the inland waterways  
  • Of the 124 local authorities designated as Category 1 for the 2022 Levelling Up Fund, 87  (70%) are on the inland waterways  
  • The Falkirk Wheel has become one of Scotland’s most visited tourist attractions, has created  60 jobs and sees an economic impact valued at over £3 million a year  
  • Every £1 spent on creating a navigable route under the M4 for the Wilts & Berks Canal will produce £1.79 in economic benefit to the local communities in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett  
  • Ten years after the reopening of the Rochdale Canal in 2002, a study found that between 3.5 and 4 million visitors were spending around £18m a year  
  • The Huddersfield Narrow Canal reopened in 2001 and has been receiving between 2 and 2.5 million visitors each year, spending over £10m annually  
  • For every £1 invested in the canal towpath network, there is a return of £7 in health benefits

Our waterways are free to visit and easily accessible for all. By their very nature, they are often located right in the heart of urban areas, offering a small haven of peace and tranquillity to the many  millions of people who live close the them. They are a huge draw for tourism, not only attracting people from the UK to visit, but also international visitors.

Falkirk Wheel

In the report, IWA highlights the importance of investing in the inland waterways and the need for  ongoing public funding. Not only do the existing navigable waterways need investment, but the  derelict waterways that could be restored in the future need protecting from inappropriate development. If we could restore 500 miles of derelict waterways, it would provide a greatly  enhanced national waterways network offering unlimited opportunities for leisure, living and business to millions more people.  

To read the full IWA Waterways for Today report or to read the case studies related to the Economic benefits of the waterways, visit  Waterways for Today - Inland Waterways.  

Join us next time to look at the ENVIRONMENTAL benefits of the waterways.  

rcr and rising callout figures

rcr and rising callout figures

and top ten replacement parts

River Canal Rescue says its number of general callouts for electrical, fuel and engine issues, flat batteries, over-heating and gear box failures, is likely to reach an all-time high by the end of the year. Figures up to 30 September are already 3318, ahead of 3235, logged for 2021, and 2850 in 2020.  

RCR says the rise is due to the high number of people unable to visit and maintain their boats during lockdown, resulting in minor niggles now becoming larger problems.  

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “Figures are currently an unseasonable high and we still have a couple of months to go. It’s worth noting that only 14% of callouts were attended by contractors this year, partially due to their availability, but also in response to customer feedback that they prefer an RCR engineer to attend their boats. 

“Considering how busy we have been, it’s likely 2022 will be one of the highest callout attendances on record. The good weather, new fuel issues, specifically ‘sticky fuel’, and the need for boaters to get out and about have all lead to lots of boats on the network.” 

RCR’s Canal Contracting service has also arranged 455 visits this year, to undertake a variety of work, including: plumbing and electrical installations, gearbox replacements, inverter, solar installations and general engine maintenance as well as 90 rescue jobs.   

So what are the top 10 parts that have broken down so far this year, why do they fail and how much do they cost to replace? 

Water pumps - 43 replacements due to seal failures, wear & tear, impeller break up and sheared components; morse controllers - 41 replacements due to wear& tear; engine mounts - 30 replacements due to hitting underwater obstacles, wear & tear, age, rubber degrading, misalignment and bolts shearing, came just outside the top 10.  

Stephanie concludes: “This list demonstrates why our Replacement Parts Cover is important as it covers the most common parts that need replacing. RPC also has an excess of £50 so covers items that have a higher value.” 

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit

the voyage of friendship 2 – home for christmas

the voyage of friendship

part 2: home for christmas

Hello friends and family,

The voyage continued well last week, and I enjoyed my first night spent alone aboard "Therapy", moored in a sheltered spot between Pangbourne and Beale Park.

On Monday morning I met Sue Allen, with her husband Joe (whose birthday it was) and their beautiful wee girls. Sue and Joe have lived on a narrow boat in the past and it was great to have experienced folk with me on the Thames where the yellow boards at the locks sometimes pronounced that the current was increasing. At Goring, Joe and little Trixie left us, and Hannah and Ash came aboard. Sue was Captains mate, her old boating skills obviously coming back, while Hannah and Ash worked out lock duties.

Sally Kershaw with Bunty     narrowboat Therapy moored on pontoon      child on board a narrowboat  

I was delighted with our progress as we reached Wallingford soon after lunch and we decided to press on to Benson. The book showed a great public mooring and we glided into the jetty well before dusk. Sue called Joe, but as we started to arrange a little birthday surprise for him on the boat an officious person approached us to let us know that we couldn't moor here and suggested we moved a mile or so up the river. OK, we cast off again to seek another mooring spot. The sun was starting to go down now and a slight tension crept in as we looked ahead for possible places. I could see a green bank and directed Sue in towards it. As we approached I realised that it was too shallow, but Therapy was already grounded on the remains of a tree. We were stumped! The sun was almost disappeared now, but Ash saved the day when Hannah held on to his legs and he hung over the side to push us off the wood. Once free we cruised on in the fading light to find a very suitable mooring outside Shillingford Bridge Hotel. We quickly re-staged the birthday surprise for Joe, who'd met us with the car and sang a hearty "Happy Birthday" to him. Many thanks to all for an excellent day.

After another cosy and enjoyable night with my puppy, Bunty, Tuesday was set to be a very relaxing day as we'd gone further than expected yesterday. Bunty is settling in well aboard Therapy, and I hope will be a confident boat dog.

Lambourn friends, Katharine and Libby were my "shipmates" today and arrived shipshape and Bristol fashion at the appointed time. Again, the weather was kind, and we had a quiet day's cruising, reaching Abingdon an hour or so before dusk. Our only brush with difficulty was at lunch time. We had moored at a very quite spot for half an hour to eat cauliflower cheese, when the land owner appeared from nowhere to let us know that "we could not moor there". Is this a phrase I will have to get used to on the river? I wished the chap a super Christmas, let my puppy off to pee, and we cast the boat off into the current again.

Ewan met us at Abingdon, we moored and locked up the boat and headed home for Christmas.

Happy Christmas and many thanks to all those who've helped me and to those who plan to meet me further on.

Warmest wishes,