Thursday, 7 December 2017

Walking Through Spring

It may not seem topical, but I've been reading a delightful book about walking from south to north across England and following the slow spread of spring northwards.
Walking Through Spring is by Graham Hoyland and the author muses on countryside matters as he walks along rural ways.
A passage about horse-drawn narrow boats and canals caught my eye.
It is calculated that one US gallon of fuel can move a ton of cargo 533 miles by barge, 209 miles by rail or 61 miles by truck.
"An eighteenth century canal horse could pull a 30-ton load at a steady 2 miles per hour with no noise and only the occasional pollutant, which could be used to fertilise the fields."
The load was ..."around a hundred times the horse's own body weight and about fifty times more than it could manage using a cart on ancient roads."
This was a highly efficient transport system - the best in its day. If even a small fraction of the loads carried by trucks across our roads was transferred to the canals I'd be pleased, but sadly trans-shipment costs and the limited number of large wharfs in the right places mean that we are unlikely to see much being transferred to our canals.
Hoyland did not give the mileage for a diesel-powered barge....

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Cotswold Canals

The Cotswold Canals, comprising the The Stroudwater Navigation and The Thames & Severn Canal, formed an early 36 mile link between the Thames at Lechlade and the River Severn at Saul Junction. It provided a through route between Bristol and London before the Kennet and Avon Canal opened. The Cotswold Canals fell out of use before the Second World War.  The Cotswold Canals Trust has restored sections of the Stroudwater Navigation, but much of the Thames and Severn Canal is still in a derelict state and some sections have been filled in.  John and Sarah have been staying near Cirencester and walked a short stretch along the towpath of the derelict section between the Gateway Bridge at Cerney Wick and South Cerney locks. The following photo is of one of the pair of locks at Wildmoorway, showing the lockkeeper's cottage, now restored as a private dwelling.
Unfortunately, this is yet another West Country canal that Patience is unlikely to be able to visit - like the Somerset Coal Canal, the Grand Western Canal, the Itchen Navigation or the Bude Canal!  Never mind - there is still plenty to go for on the main network!