North West April 2020

I am at Appley Bridge, a suburb of Wigan on the east Lancashire border. There have been signs put up about the limited use of the canal towpath close to me. They have had little effect on towpath footfall as, in my estimation, there is a three- to four-fold increase in its use. A policeman walked along the towpath last Sunday afternoon, but nobody was challenged about their presence on the canal. I have moved to a more secluded spot and I am now getting almost no people coming near the boat. There have been six boats that have passed me, but their direction of travel is possibly to return to their home moorings. I have had three emails from CRT, asking about my position and what services I need to be open. A CRT volunteer has called three times to see how I am. The local community has offered to help with a free electric hook-up and several local people have offered to shop for me (I must be getting old!), and I’m told that, if I need assistance, I should just ask.

Ken Hylins


David Fletcher adds: Following a wet February, both March and April have been very dry, particularly in the north. Due to this and some lower levels in reservoirs post-Toddbrook, the Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Huddersfield and Leeds & Liverpool canals are closed for the foreseeable future. The aim is to save water so that, when the system is reopened, we have some water to play with. There has been some comment on social media about a blockage on the feeder to the Peak Forest from Coombes Reservoir. I understand that, although there is a blockage, this is not the only problem and it could take some time to get this flow going again.  The stoppages mean that the coal boats cannot pass and support those liveaboards on these waters.