Wales and the South West April 2020

With many boaters safely self-isolating, there is little movement on the canals. It was reported that there were scores of dead fish spotted in the Kennet & Avon in Devizes. The EA said the coronavirus lockdown has resulted in a drop in traffic and activity on the canal, and this has created a series of stagnant pools between locks – resulting in the fish suffocating through a lack of oxygen. However, a local fish expert (also a medical professional) commented that there had probably been a toxic leak as the distribution is quite localised. Also, the fish involved are stillwater animals and could cope. A local boater said there had been a large diesel spillage in the area, which may have led to the deaths.

There have been reports that, on the K&A, there have been some unfortunate conflicts where liveaboard boaters, who are understandably very unhappy with the folks cycling or running along the towpaths, have taken matters into their own hands. However, there are a significant number of people who have almost no alternative but to use the towpath to get to work – including some working in Bath hospitals and care homes – perhaps a case of a small minority of thoughtless people spoiling things for the majority?

Mike Rodd