. . or four if you count the Slough Arm separately.
On Saturday we arrived at our winter mooring on the Slough Arm, waving to old friends as we passed their boats and even getting an offer of a lift into town to get the bus home without us asking. The outer end of the arm looks quite good in Autumn colours.
Then next day we zoomed 230 odd miles north, by car this time, to take Jacob back to college at stayed in a B&B overnight at Bilsborrow. It was dark and foggy overnight, but next morning we pulled back the curtains to see that once again we were next to the canal, this time the Lancaster Canal
and then we drove on to Chester to visit a friend who took us to lunch – by the canal of course, the Shroppie this time
and then today, a canal trip I had been a bit apprehensive about. CRT needed a volunteer to drive their widebeam showboat Jena up and down the GU canal in the Hayes area carrying VIPs from Hillingdon Council and CRT London Waterway Manager John Guest , so that they could hold an on board meeting to discuss joint funding of canal related projects. As I was the only qualified person available it fell to me to steer this big boat. That’s OK, ‘cos Id driven her before, but this time I had to twice turn the boat round in places where there was no proper winding hole. She could just turn without touching both banks. Luckily I had two enthusiastic young CRT bank staff to assist as crew and it all went without a hitch. I also had the opportunity to quiz John about a few local issues and gleaned a bit of info about future works and other stuff.
In particular I asked about the take up of the new London Winter Moorings, which as some of you know, have been moved “out of town”. As I suspected from observations along the canal, there has not yet been much of a take up of this facility. Thinking about it, why would someone pay for a mooring out of town, when they can moor on the towpath further in for free? The winter moorings have apparently been chosen to be handy for rail stations etc, but most of them I think lack facilities such as nearby sanitary stations and water points.
John did confirm though that the bookable moorings at Rembrandt Gardens will be maintained now that they have returned to CRT management, although at some point they will have to consider making a charge for using these to cover extra admin and management costs. He didn’t know how much that might be but he said that a number of boaters had indicated they would be willing to pay for an assured visitor mooring in that area. If people were paying, they’d have to be very strict about protecting the moorings from unauthorised boaters pinching the spot and then refusing to move.
I also asked about the proposed Jan-March stoppage at the Crane aqueduct near Hayes which would prevent boats heading south to Bulls Bridge and on to London. His thoughts were that, depending on preparatory surveys, they might do the job using a coffer dam, thus not fully closing the canal. That would be handy for us at least.
On Thursday I’m back to Little Venice to take part in a Share The Space event, flinging ourselves in front of speeding cyclists like suffragettes under the King’s horse, and asking them to be more &*%$£y considerate. Fat chance.