East Midlands report

Not a great deal to report, as all our movements are currently restricted to only the strictly necessary by the Covid regulations. But in line with Government’s instructions on daily exercise and CRT’s desire that that exercise should take place on the towpaths, they certainly appear to be very busy with runners and cyclists, as well as the usual walkers, at least in my Nottingham area of the canal. In this lockdown, there does appear to be a little more tolerance between local canal moorers and the general public, but it is a pity that the signs CRT has put up, reminding people to keep their distance from moored boats, aren’t larger and more frequently placed. The same could also be said of the signs reminding cyclists of their duty to slow down. 

There are plenty of paddle boarders and canoeists about, especially at weekends; mainly students I believe, wanting to relieve the boredom of their lockdown. Fortunately the scourge of eScooter appears not to have descended on the local towpaths, despite the eScooter company, Wind, operating in both Nottingham and Derby since October. I believe each scooter has a tracking device that prevents it being operated in an area deemed unlawful, which thankfully appears to include canal towpaths. There also appears to be little increase in angling hereabouts, despite the Government’s declaration that fishing is an official form of exercise. Unfortunately, magnet fishers do occasionally make an appearance, leaving their debris behind for other people to clear up. They appear to be quite organised and proud of their activities, often recording themselves on camera; presumably to be uploaded online. Maybe a more useful use of CRT’s signage department would be to remind these people that magnet fishing is illegal on CRT waters – never mind the dangerous nature of some of the material they litter the towpath with.

River levels are high but that’s par for the course at this time of year. So even if we were allowed to move, we wouldn’t get very far. CRT has been regularly announcing closures of all the usual suspects, such as the Alrewas river section, Derwent Mouth, Cranfleet, between Kings and Redhill lock, but I believe that’s due to damage. The Newark office is still closed until further notice, Cromwell Lock passage needs to be booked and Torksey onto the Fossdyke is currently closed. I believe there is also still a sunken boat up from Trent Lock on the Erewash canal.

I see in January’s ‘Towpath Talk’ that CRT is spending £4 million on waterway repairs in the East Midland region – apparently part of a £45 million spend across the waterways this winter. I also read that the Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust has received £350,000 from Network Rail to go towards work on the Draycott section of the canal. This will help reduce flooding on the railway as well helping the Trust to reopen the canal from Sandiacre to Derby. I haven’t seen an announcement of this on the Trust’s excellent website but no doubt there will be an update to this affect soon. 

Should you have any boating or navigational issues or news from the East Midlands area that you wish to bring to NABO’s attention, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Peter Braley