Sunday 18 September 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (4-7)

Sunday September 18th.

Littleborough Lower Lock to Chelbourn Wharf
Day 28

Awake by 6:30 and the weather continues to provide us with heavy showers. We are having another day in Littleborough before making our final push up the last few locks climbing to the summit. We will not be moving today, so I decided to provide some observations of the first month of our Summer / Autumn Cruise 2011.

We have seen both the best and the worst of the English canals. Out in the countryside the canals are for the most part pristine. I know that some locks could do with some remedial work doing. (A stitch in time) There are sections where the trees require some pruning and in a few cases felling to avoid problems later. (A stitch in time) Dredging in some places is needed urgently. (A stitch in time)

There is the usual detritus left behind by fishermen and picnickers which is a matter of education in taking your litter home. In some cases canal side waste bins are full to overflowing and that is down to the local authorities doing their bit and not waiting for a complaint before acting.

What is obvious is that the problems become worse as the canal side becomes more built up. I know that many people take a pride in their back garden overlooking the canal. Many of the owners do take the time to clean out of the canal items that fail to float past. The efforts and the pride of these people should be acknowledged.

What I am talking about are the deprived areas where the local canal is not seen as an amenity. The canal is the liquid dumping ground for whatever gets left behind when the local authorities make cut backs on dustbin emptying. Or when local authorities have stringent rules about what can be taken to local dump-it sites. In a sheer lack of understanding by authorities of the nature and scale of the problem. Every canal bridge becomes the local dump-it.

Taking a boat through some places is fraught with problems real and imagined. As the nature of the canal changes from countryside to small towns the amount of detritus builds up. The tow path becomes less of a wildlife habitat and more of an dog shit dumping area. People with social problems drinking their first fix of cider for the day. They greet us as we pass, from their sleeping place and bridge underpass that also doubles as their communal urinal. Why do people in their privacy piss on the wall and not into the canal. I think it's something to do with the White Lightning syndrome.

As small towns become larger built-up areas with canal side indicators of deprivation – graffiti being the first permanent indicator after the increase in the number of floating plastic items that greet you as a form of early warning. Abandoned buildings surrounded with barbed and razor wire. Protecting decay from the arsonist and vandal. Each section of barbed wire decorated by brightly coloured keep out signs and the wind blown supermarket plastic bags. Each providing a trade marked line of bunting. From which the he name of the nearest supermarket can be easily be established.

Then there are the open sewer, sections of our industrial heritage canal. Here it is is human waste of every kind. Rotting food, soiled nappy’s, old clothes, plastic bags and bottles. The discarded television, table, chair and settees. Car tyres and old engine oil. Each heavy item transported to the nearest bridge by the same supermarket inspired transport system the trolley which is then disposed of in the same way from the bridge as it is to much trouble to wheel back. The supermarkets provide a selection of replacements as needed anyway!

What can be done to improve the situation - this is not rocket science.

In such areas provide a free large item collection system. With a free phone system to request the collections.  Stop supermarkets from using plastic bags and legislate for paper carrier bags. Increase the number of bin collections and forget about sorting items into different coloured bins. The people who dump from bridges are not going to ecologically inspired. Reduce the size of trolley wheels so that they will not easily move items over uneven surfaces. The next person who admires the “art” in a “graffiti mural” gets their own “tag” provided by a punch in the mouth.

Welcome to our English Heritage, the canals that inspired the Industrial Revolution. The biggest linear park we have that also multi-tasks as a land fill site. I have just had a good idea! What we need is a ex quango team of failed management. A team that can be reformed as a charity to manage the situation. We also need a hole in the head.

After lunch the weather was sunny and warm so we decided to make a move after all. We said goodbye to Nb Sir “T” Fied. As we climbed, some of the pounds were down and we came across Nb Tacet sitting at a tilt on the bottom. So we flushed down the next lock after we went up. As the pound above had plenty of water we let down more until we could see that Nb Tacet was sat level in the water again.

Some pounds between locks were low, others were high and spilling over the top and bottom gates. Arrived at Chelbourn Wharf about 5pm. A quick look around and we found a nearby pub called The Summit. Over we went to see if there was any pub grub still available. What a brilliant choice I made. A first class Balti Curry was followed by Jam rolly-poly smothered in custard I was in boaters heaven. Pub meals here are top nosh and not to be missed.

No bats detected.

Daily Total
Distance: 1.5 Miles.
Locks: 11
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1906.8

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