The WWT Ltd are determined to get us all in the water

one way or another.

Her Maj’s “government” handed C&RT two-thousand miles of Industrial Heritage, an open-air museum vastly larger than Beamish, some parts of which still function commercially, the rest populated with eager, living, moving, self-sustaining, photogenic, tourist-pleasing exhibits ranging from “cute” to “downright peculiar, but I’m glad I’ve seen it”. On top of the gift was a very large wedge of repeating cash, and a huge portfolio of land and property.

C&RT sipped their latte, took a nibble at their courgette-compote-with-celery-dressing, and replied ‘Hmm – we could grow daisies and buttercups and ickle bunny wabbits on the more horrid bits in the wastelands between cities and towns, and elsewhere, where it’s much easier to get to, we can pave the edges of the big long pond thing – the whatchermacallit – the “canal” – and then we can ride up and down it in skin-tight lycra with rolled up socks tucked where our nuts ought to be, trying for personal best times between Starbucks and Prêt-a-Cucumber. The smelly boats and boaters, and those horrid old buildings will have to go though. Yeah? Where do we get our lawyers to sign, and may we pleasey-weasy have some of that cash in advance, to pay the lawyers bill?’

New (“new”!) policy – no trimming, except in approved (time-restricted) mooring areas and one or two of the more cute lock thingies. It’s for the wildlife, apparently.

Let us be generous. 2,000 miles of canal, all rural. 3 yards from canal to hedgerow (!). 1,760 yards to a mile. 10,560,000 square yards. 3,097,600 square yards to a square mile.

3.4 square miles. A hugely generous assumption. In truth it’s probably well under a square mile in total, in strips one or two yards wide.

England alone without the assistance of Wales is 50,337 square miles.

So, in order to give mating privacy to what? Three randy bees and a dandelion, some 36,000 boaters and gawds alone know how many holiday hire-boaters now leap off into the unknown. Is there actually a towpath under there? Given the state of repair that’s hardly guaranteed. Am I about to plant my favourite Gucci spangled sandals in some vast, hidden pile of dog-eggs?

Can I hold onto the centreline with my teeth in a breeze long enough to get the strimmer out to then be able to see where I am kneeling down to attach a couple of mooring lines? I’m kneeling and I can smell dog-eggs, but I can’t see them. That’s it, just lean forward a little more… don’t use one hand to steady yourself, use it to bat away the grasses and the insects instead, it’ll be fine, trust us – we’re a canal company.

It has been suggested that we each trim our own shrubberies, so to speak, and that’s a most excellent idea – a lot of folk do just that. However, how the hecky-heck do I moor up safely in the first place, the later to trim the overgrowth?

Leap off the boat holding an open pair of garden shears?

The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd have just emailed me to say that yes, in my case, they’d love me to leap off my boat holding open garden shears, just until something happens.

These are England’s canals, not the Zambezi or the Limpopo.

Up until five minutes ago the WWT Ltd was handing out ten year contracts for grass cutting.

There are already hundreds of miles where it is impossible for mortal man to moor. The towpath has crumbled, reeds have encroached, and in some cases because of the wild growth (much more than shown above, years of neglect) you can’t even see the towpath from the canal and vice versa, let alone get the boat near to the edge (never been dredged, the glorious leader being on record as stating that he has no intent to ever dredge anywhere other than the time-restricted “visitor” moorings).

Call me a cynical old Hector if you will, but could this possibly, just possibly be a cheap and dirty tactic by those boat & boater-loathing folk at C&RT Corporate to reduce the options for boaters even further, and thus drive us away?

No, no – it’s because we love bumbly bees and flatulent flutterbies and rare mothy-things and snails and bandylions and cutterbups. We is green!

Yes, well, C&RT may be thoroughly “green”, but I’m not so.

Love wildlife on our little 3.4 square miles by not trimming under or near the headgerows, by – and here’s a revolutionary notion – planting trees on the hundreds of miles of totally neglected, utterly un-tended embankments and cuttings, to replace the ones that fall over from sheer old age, regularly blocking the cut and causing landslips.

Love wildlife by not bunging tarmac on top of anything that SUSTRANS points at.

[…and just wait until SUSTRANS realises that all of the rural sections are now no-go areas unless you’re on a mountain-bike with a forward-firing flame-thrower…]

Mind you, what can one expect from metropolitan types when even the sky is used these days for blatant displays of separatist politics?

Rant over, and before anyone calls me a miserable old anti-nature duddy-fud, that English meadow-effect next-the-armco would look brilliant and be much appreciated – were it only on the opposite side of a wide towpath, under an equally rampant hedgerow.

There’s a time and a place for most things.

Now, where may I purchase two machetes and one of those crossed-holster things that will keep the handles conveniently over my shoulders?

It’s going to be a warm one today.

It’s going to get hotter still, I think, for “no win no fee” legal types.

Broken ankle you say, madam? Do come in. Ah – your little doggie jumped off the bow and then there was a lot of grass-rustling and something that sounded like velociraptors eating something crunchy and you haven’t seen Foo-Foo Floppypops III since but her diamonte collar turned up next day floating in the canal in a little patch of blood-coloured water? £Do£ £come£ £in£ £kerching£…

Dare I say it, what of walky-walky sticks? What of pushy-pushchairs? What of wheelchair users? What – horror of horrors – of a bumboid bee wheelchair user out with her family, enjoying the countryside, hubby struggling with the youngsters in a little double-decker bee-pushchair?

What, more importantly, of miserable old farts who have to use a trolley to drag comestibles to their boat?

Chin-chin, chaps and chappesses.





      1. Thank you, and yes, I messaged you on Faceache too, covering all bases as copy has to be in by end of the week!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m applying for a grant from the government to turn my garden into a neglected hovel…sorry, nature reserve. It’s about protecting the indigenous rats, you know. Very valuable and important resource are rats. It’s conservation. Or conservativism. Or something. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with me wanting to sit back and do nothing except claim a big fat wage packet. It’s the perfect proposal. I haven’t been anywhere near said garden for the last four years, so it’s already got an excellent start.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Watery Wellness MisTrust Ltd wallahs really do think that we all came down with the last shower, don’t they? Planting trees – something I’ve never seen C&RT do – to keep the integrity of embankments going if nowt else, now -that- would be in support of ecology &wotnot. Abandoning the entire system to jungle? Nah, that’s just parsimony and b’ger the boaters.

      C&RT – it takes an organisation that is very, very good at being very, very bad to be -this- awful.

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    1. The Watery Wellness MisTrust Ltd are in the throes of a loud argument – mostly with themselves – claiming to be private company owners of all of the canal land and infrastructure while receiving tax-payer’s monies, full official charity status, and yet not having any of the obligations of a “public body” – or those of a “private body” either.

      If we were to fit castors to the members of the board and the trustees they’d all spin like perpetual-motion tops, and to be honest – I doubt that they’d even notice.

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  2. I want to know if I instigated this rant by cutting around the hidden rings at Calverley. I found 26 by the way. This 48 hr mooring has been trimmed and tweeked this year at least.😡

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      1. Haha – it won’t be long now before you’re trimming in search of the rings and uncover an old boat and its long-deceased owner, snuffed by some wild animal in the act of trying to moor up in the jungle…

        What do you think the Canal Rozzers will do when the overgrowth is sufficient to make the reading of boat names and numbers from the towpath entirely impossible? Hutson – our spotters haven’t spotted you at all, all year… you’ve been not cruising again, haven’t you? Tsk tsk. Well, they’re daft enough at Canal HQ! 😉


  3. Invite the bigwigs to an ‘green festival’ on a rural towpath…you’ll need to pretend that there is a marquee and booze to winkle them out….use your machetes as they file in and dump the bodies in the undergrowth. I don’t supppose you would stoop to taking over their identities, but you might have friends ready to do so who take the tyre drowners in a more approprite direction.

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    1. I almost got lost myself this morning, little yellow spade in hand, while searching the immedaite neighbourhood (length of the Cardinal) for a nearby boat’s dog’s dog-eggs. There are… creatures… in the jungle. Soon enough I’ll have to tie a rope to the Cardinal and attach it to the waistband of my leopard-skin, just so that I can find my way home…

      The idiflops at C&RT Corporate will announce that well, they tried to be nice and green but those horrid dirty boaters didn’t like it… Failing of course to mention that we didn’t like it because what they have done is just abandonment, not in any sense a controlled or thought-out adult-style easing up in the name of ecological exuberance.

      Grr. Why must I (almost) always (have to) be such a grumpy old Hector where the Canal Company is concerned? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Perhaps all those who engage in recreation on wheels will band together and bleat loudly enough to reverse the decision. Cyclists, pram-pushers, and those anglers with a ton of equipment that they must transport with wheeled contraptions. Attracting people to places with deteriorating infrastructure does seem like an invitation to lawsuits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully so. Tis the usual “sledgehammer” approach from the Watery Wellness MisTrust Ltd – they wouldn’t know a subtle approach to anything if you wrapped it around a nuke and put it in their underwear. Why they can’t leave the headgerow and that side a little (and only a little – not total abandonment) is beyond me. It can only be a deliberate policy to discourage mooring anywhere except marinas. [insert angry emoticon].

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  5. It does seem like an injury waiting to happen. There is a sane compromise in keeping things natural. As you point out. Perhaps dont now next to the hedgerows but keep the canal edge clear. But saving money is the true motivation for this decision and that is always a bad decision guide.

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    1. C&RT Corporate can barely keep their knuckles off the ground, it’s no good expecting joined-up and/or sophistimacated thinking from them. They have one tool, and it’s a sledgehammer…


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  6. I’m wondering when the first ‘test case’ for injury (eek! or much worse) will be coming through for C&RT’s deliberate neglect? Could prove more costly than hiring those lovely chaps to mow the edges where the boats moor up. Like you say there’s plenty of hedgerows and ditches to do their bit for the environment. There’s one country (not sure which) that now requires their farmers to plant a strip of wild flowers along each of their crop fields. What these people are doing to the canal’s is tantamount to destruction. I imagine claims will come from bikers, dog emptiers, ramblers and anyone else passing along.
    Advertising they’re not ‘dredging’ is encouraging would be serial killers – I feel a plot coming on!

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    1. Walkers and cyclists – the C&RT-encouraged demographic – are likely to be far more litigious than boaters ever would be. C&RT Corporate spend a fortune on legal fees, and it all comes out of money that ought more properly to have gone towards upkeep.

      With all of this undergrowth even the towpaths are becoming better and better places to hide bodies… which is good news, since I have a backlog of quiet, unmarked burials building up. 😉

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    1. This is true – they are, in effect, burying the body…

      I did suggest that instead of not mowing the towpaths they encourage wildlife by re-grassing all of the car parks at C&RT Corporate HQ, but that idea didn’t tickle their fancy. ;-(

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