Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Canal Restoration

Waterways World Annual 2011 is a great reference book and one of the sections deals, at great length, (12 full pages) with restoration campaigns and projects. Now, there's a big difference between a campaign (We want this done!) and a project (We have arranged this funding and that permission on this timescale) but I was thrilled to see how much had been done and how much was hoped for in our Great Ouse region.
The Lodes at Wicken, Reach and Burwell are already navigable, but the Lodes at Swaffham Bulbeck (3.5 miles), Cottenham (2 miles), Bottisham (2.5 miles) and Soham (4.5 miles) have been identified as practical projects for restoration. Indeed parts of Soham and Bottisham are already navigable by small craft.
GOBA have also promoted the extension of the Little Ouse beyond Brandon, current head of navigation, to Thetford - a further 10.5 miles, though this would mean a further four locks.
Burwell Lode - the cockup bridge

Most exciting of all, I think, is something I hadn't heard of and am only just beginning to grasp: The Fenland Waterways Link. This could become the biggest waterways enhancement in Europe and open up 150 miles of waterway. It would connect Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely with Boston, Spalding and Ramsey to create a circular waterway. Black Sluice and South Forty Foot Drain have already been reopened and apparently it needs a new lock and road crossing for the A151 to link the rivers Glen and Welland.
An interactive map and a detailed leaflet about the Fenland Waterways Link are available.
Finally we must not forget the proposed Bedford to Milton Keynes Canal. This scheme will build the first new canal in over a century and provide a navigable route between the River Ouse in Bedford and the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes. It would also mean I could get down to see my daughters in London by boat in 9 days (60 hours) instead of 15 days (103 hours) ! Thank you Canal Planner for working this out!


  1. You can already get to London in 9 days, we did :P But then, we are young and foolish....

  2. Based on Canal Planner. You could, of course go longer and faster, or reach it by car in an hour and a half.
    In your case, then, for 15 read 9 and for 9 read 5.4 - but I wouldn't enjoy it.