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....

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