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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Where to cruise in 2014.

I was poking about among the C&RT website and came across the Annual Lockage Report 2013.
It made interesting reading. Lockage is the use of a lock and not the number of boats using it as it could be possible for four boats to use a broad lock. However there are figures for the number of boats using certain locks. In general it would seem that the areas we cruised last year were the quiet ones. That suits me fine as I'm not keen on linear car parks at locks and shops etc. What the figures did show was that 2012 must have been a terrible year for cruising as the figures dived compared with the 2011 numbers. I was also surprised that with such a lovely summer as we had in 2013 the numbers did not surpass the 2011 figures. I have read and heard anecdotaly that lots of boats being sold last year. Maybe it is true that the majority of them have been sold to provide habitation in marinas and on permanent moorings rather than get out and about on the system. I would have thought that if anything was going to tempt folk out it would have been the weather last year.

Thinking back to last year I would say out busiest spots would have been the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union, but that was down about 10%. But then we wouldn't have enjoyed the lovely scenery, walks and beautiful sunsets.

Watching the sunset over Church Minshull.

Another busy place was Nantwich with it always seeming to be difficult to find a berth near the town. But then again when we did we discovered a great little town with loads of old buildings and shops and a couple of good nights in the local friendly pubs.

Queens Hotel, Nantwich.

The Shropshire Union to Chester was also busy but the trip to that fair city must be worth a bit of a queue, although we didn't, there were just more boats about. This was in August though so peak season in any year.
In the rock cutting at the foot of the walls of Chester.

On the other hand our cruise around the backwaters of the Midlands was definitely quiet and this was borne out by the figures as it appears to be about 20% down. I loved the 'Curley Wyrley' and the outer reaches of the BCN. Birmingham centre is always a delight for me as the contrast of the busy second city and the quiet canals is great.

I don't look too happy but I love the Old Turn area of Brum.

Over the Huddersfield Narrow was just fantastic and only about four boats moving the whole way, plus a three mile tunnel and a jazz festival in Marsden. What's not to like!

Coming down the eastern side of the the Huddersfield Narrow.

The Aire and Calder were quiet and quite majestic on the river sections. It would be very different in the conditions now mind. The Sheffield and Stainforth and keadby Canals were also lonely places but with the wide open spaces and automated locks were a revelation to us.
Approaching Castleford flood lock.

I hope that were are as lucky again this year. We haven't definitely settled on our route yet but there will be new waterways for us for sure and I'm not sure whether we will make it down to the honey pot places in the south. Where ever we go I am looking forward to it though.

PS. After my last blog, I think it was, I saw a piece in the Sunday Times about Iceland planning to lay an underground cable to export power that they can make in a green fashion by geothermal. This would involve a High Voltage Direct Current cable. This could tie in with the plan for laying such under a new grand trunk canal scheme. As Iceland have a surplus of cheap and green fuel, and are a 'friendly' nation (If you don't count the Cod Wars) it could add a plus for the new canal.

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