Paddling the Canals of England

I thought you might like to know how I got on with my 6 day trip on the canals of England. The week proved one of the hottest on record – it was a good thing the boat is so light!  I had all the camping gear aboard, including 2 trolleys – one for portages & one to get the gear home, and extra water to deal with the heat!
The set-up was in Birmingham, and I paddled on the Worcester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Grand Union, and Oxford canals.  There were 4 major portages around sets of locks – the longest being 2 miles, as well as 20 others around single locks. One day, I paddled over 20 miles. much of it into a stiff breeze, and with 5 portages, and was then offered a campsite in someone’s cottage garden!
On the sixth day I reached Banbury where I packed everything up into the duffel bag and a rucsac, and caught a train home!  It had been a memorable time, and I hope to tackle something similar this year.  The foldability means I can keep the boat in a cupboard in my apartment, and the light weight for transport is important for a 60+ paddler like myself!
Re UK Waterways, there are quite a lot of sources.  For the main canal network, there is British Waterways who are the navigation authority for about 2,500 miles – and the Environment Agency who have another 500 -600 miles.
Activity wise, for canoeing there is the BCU (British Caoe Union), and the Inland Waterways Association whse campaigns so revitalised many waterways between 1947 and the present.  These will all have links to other organisations, as well as having extensive resources of their own.
I have no pictures of my trip due to a curious accident.  Re-launching after a lock portage, & being in too much of a hurry, the boat slid sideways vertically, hitting the water with the starboard side & flipping over.  I had visions of the craft sinking, or being difficult to get out, but she floated very well upside-down.  I just wasn’t able to save things like the camera & mobile phone from getting wet.  As far as I can tell, this was the only possible way to capsize the boat!
Best wishes
Keith Eley

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