Let me start this by saying, I love a good moan, and always have an opinion! However, I do believe there is a time and a place.
A couple of things recently make me think that we are too quick to rubbish our canals and the people who look after them.
How often have you had a conversation which includes the comment “ohh, I would never go down xxx canal, I know people who have had problems going through there!” It is however interesting that it is rarely the person themselves who have had issues, it’s usually happened to someone else.
It must be said that as well as going through some fantastic countryside, canals go through many more urban settings, and often through some rundown areas of towns. Whilst there are places where I would think twice about mooring overnight, I would like to think that there are none that I would fear to travel.
Maybe we need to stop rubishing these canals and start using them. It is only by using them, that they will improve.
We are currently on the Macclesfield canal in what should be one of the busiest weeks of the year. It is interesting how few hire boats we have seen doing the Cheshire ring, and I suspect this is in part to do with the need to travel through Manchester to complete it.
The Ashton canal has always had a bad reputation, however, I must have done the Cheshire ring half a dozen times in my boating career, and I have ever had an issue!
The most recent of these trips was last year, and I have to say it was very much improved, with good overnight moorings in Manchester, and no sign of trouble whatsoever.
I would even go as far as to say that Castlefield Basin in the centre of Manchester is one of my favorite mooring spots.
The fact is that avoiding these urban canals means that we are missing out on some fascinating canal heritage.
On a positive note, it was really good to read an upbeat report of a trip down the Rochdale Canal in Waterways world (August 2017).
More of these please!
But enough of the canals, let me move on to those who run them.
Let me start by acknowledging there are issues with canals, and I don’t agree with everything the CRT do, but on the whole, I think they do a pretty good job. So why do we take every opportunity to moan about them.
Let me give you an example. 2017 is the 5th anniversary of the CRT taking over the running of the canals, and quite understandably, much of their media is currently celebrating the fact.
But why did one Twitter user decide to reply to a tweet from the CRT, which highlighted their successes since taking over, with a moan about the way they had restored a particular bit of towpath.
Whilst they may well be right that this bit of work and the decisions behind it have issues, maybe pouring cold water on the CRT’s birthday celebrations was not the time or place to point them out.
The fact is that as a nation, our canals ore one of greatest assets and generally, they improve year on year. All in all, 5 years on from when the Canal & River Trust took over their management, I would suggest that on balance thy have done a good job.
Let’s start supporting and engaging constructively with those tasked with the challenging job of managing the canals and celebrate the whole network, and not just the bits that travel through green and pleasant countryside.