Trains, planes, cars. Regular readers will know we’ve written about all of them. But never about narrow boats. So we’re setting the record straight and paying our dues to one of our least appreciated forms of transport (and holidays); our inland waterways.
This week saw tickets go on sale for the UK’s biggest inland waterways festival; the Crick Boat Show. For the uninitiated, it takes place at Crick Marina (in Northants) from May 27th to May 29th.
(So still a way off but worth putting in the diary).
According to the event organisers, the event ‘showcases the canal world with 300 exhibitors gathering from across the country, and offers a fantastic day out for all the family with dozens of boats to look round, free boat trips, live music, real ale marquee, and stalls’.
Lovers of canal boat holidays may not thank us for bringing them to the attention of others, as one of the delights of this type of holiday is its gentle pace (boats are not allowed to go more than four miles per hour or walking speed) and the relatively unspoilt and uncrowded waterway network.
Note our use of the word ‘relatively’. Congestion can build up at popular locks but w’re not in the same league here as the congestion you’d find on the A38 in Cornwall on an August Bank holiday weekend.
The gentle TV show ‘Great Canal Journeys’ currently being screened on Channel 4 and featuring husband and wife actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales is doing a much better job of raising the profile of canal holidays than we can, and the programmes clearly capture their charm. They also capture the remarkable feats of engineering that the Victorians accomplished in building and extending the network.
Although railways, and then later roads and motorways pushed the inland waterways into disuse and disrepair, the Canal & River Trust, building on the work of its forbear, British Waterways, has done a tremendous job in restoring the waterways and there is now a substantial network of interconnecting, fully navigable canals across the country.