Sunday, 16 September 2018

Using Waterway Routes to find abandoned canals

We found the Waterway Routes mapping system invaluable on the rivers in East Anglia recently; I was interested to see how useful they might be on the canals. I was expecting them to be not useful at all, given that we always use Nicholson guides and CanalPlan. But … guess what? Waterway Routes turns out to give a lot of extra detail compared with Nicholson, a case in point being lines of abandoned canals.

Coming along the North Oxford the other day I was able to spot - thanks to Waterway Routes - evidence of the former line of the canal in fields alongside the current course of the canal. It's a bit difficult to see in this photo, but there's a slight dip and change in the field pattern from the centre by the water off to the right.

It's easier to see in this next photo: the original canal ran alongside the trees - the cows are standing on the greener grass marking the route.

Another feature of the maps I have found useful here on the Ashby Canal is the clear marking of moorings. The "M" symbol indicates either piling or rings/bollards; handy when much of the rest of the bank seems to be reedy or overgrown. Oh, and when a water point is marked on Waterway Routes you can be sure that that is exactly where it is and that it will work. Mind you, it doesn't tell you how good the pressure is (perhaps a future refinement?)

Here's a screenshot of part of the Waterway Routes map for where we are in Hinckley. The top two M symbols in hexagons are actually on the same length of piling, but there are "No Mooring" signs at the bend, thus cutting the mooring space into two, as shown. The numbers in the long purple box give distance in km and miles, the number of locks, the number of moveable bridges and the time taken to travel from the beginning of the Ashby Canal at Marston Junction. So I know that it will take approximately two hours to get to the junction tomorrow.

I would have to say, though, that Nicholson (or Pearson) does give a lot of interesting background information on the area you might be travelling through, and it does tell you where pubs might be. Yes, many of the pubs listed in Nicholson have now closed, but for regular boaters they are a useful reminder of known hostelries. We will continue to use Nicholson but I have found we tend to keep the Memory-Map version of Waterway Routes within sight while travelling. The duration markers where you can judge the time it will take to navigate between two points are possibly slightly pessimistic, but it's better to be a little ahead of time than behind. We're only talking a few minutes in a journey of five hours, so not bad at all.

I haven't said anything about what we've done today: we joined Andy and Sue at their Hope Community Church in Hinckley this morning, then I cycled back to the boat to watch the Grand Prix. When that had finished we winded and went to Nutt's Bridge visitor moorings. We then walked into the town and met Andy and Sue again for a meal in Wetherspoon's. Back on the boat Jan and Sue practiced a couple of songs ready for next weekend while I rooted out an old dongle for Andy.

Here's one more photo (from Friday). A poor old Volvo P1800 has been in a garden with several other vehicles by Bridge 4 on the North Oxford for many years, getting more and more overgrown. As an old Volvo owner myself (in both senses) this hurts me!

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