Favourite Sections of Canals - 1999

Postings to the canals mailing list in December 1999.

Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 18:35:33 +0000
To: "Canals"
From: Michael J Wooding
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

George Pearson writes:

>Everyone must have some section(s) of canals and waterways that
>are their personal favorites.  I suggest posting these to the list,
>so we can see if there are any differences of opinion.  When we've
>got a few recommendations, I'll put them on a web page.

Mine is the Southern Oxford followed very closely by the Caldon.
All of both George, but I must admit to my particular favourite
stretches being the Cherwell section of the S.O. and the Consall Forge
section of the Caldon.


From: "Bruce Peckett"
To: "Canals"
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 12:36:48 -0000
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

My favourite section of canal is a dead heat between the 
Northampton Arm of the Grand Union and the Staffs and Worcester 
from Wolverhampton to Stourport

The Northampton Arm used to have a clear lead in my affections - 
this often ignored and unsung 5 mile canal has one of the most 
spectacular lock flights on the system - a 13 lock descent down a 
hillside which even the M1 motorway crossing at the tail of lock 12 
couldn't ruin. To me, the Rothersthorpe flight ranks right up 
alongside the likes of Bratch, Caen Hill, the Wolverhampton 21 and 
the like yet very few people even know of it beyond a few sqiggles 
on a canal guide

In years gone by, below the flight the canal offered wonderful views 
across the upper Nene valley and was almost riverine in nature with 
reed beds and gentle earth banks. All bar the last mile or so into 
the town appeared very isolated and a world apart (although the 
nearby housing estate intruded through the depredations of vandals 
damaging locks and emptying pounds with monotonous regularity)

Sadly, in the last couple of years and despite the efforts of various 
local campaign groups both within and without the waterways 
fraternity, there has been a great deal of development from the 
motorway down and much of the arm's isolated and remote 
character has gone for ever. Never the less, it is still well worth the 
trip even though it has to be admitted that the final stretch from 
lock 16 to 17 into the heart of Northampton leaves a lot to be 
desired and that Northampton itself doesn't turn it's best face to the 
river (then again, I'm not 100% sure Northampton actually has a 
best face anyway and I've lived here most of my life!)

Until the summer just past, the Northampton Arm would have had 
my vote (although the Caldon would, I suspect, give it a run for its 
money when I finally get to boat it instead of seeing short bits of it 
from the car or on foot). Now, the Stiffs and Worst definitely 
deserves an equal first place and maybe more

This was a canal that for some reason had passed me by on my 
travels. Most of the high spots of the waterways have had a visit 
from me by motor vehicle during my years on the road travelling all 
over the country but for some reason this was one waterway I had 
never visited

The spectacular rock cuttings are the real feature that grab the 
attention of the passing boater. IIRC, I waxed lyrical about the 
canal shortly after the trip and you haven't paid it a visit, I'd 
thoroughly recommend it.

It is a waterway of many little secrets. Much of the time, the south 
bank is a high rock wall whilst the north bank is heavily wooded 
with occasional tantalising glimpses of the valley beyond. In 
places, the rock closes in on both sides and you find yourself 
boating through a chasm carved from solid rock.

At one lock, the rock face is so close that a groove has been cut 
out of it to accomodate the balance beam and a large cave, for 
what purpose who knows, has been cut into the rock right 
alongside the lock. Totally amazing!

Stourport itself wasn't all I'd hoped it would be, to be honest, but 
that didn't detract from the joys of the trip to get there. It was a 
delight to find that a canal could still take my breath away when I 
thought I'd seen it all. Hopefully the system still has a few more 
such surprises in store over the coming years!



Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 23:02:49 -0000
From: "Brian Holt"

I enjoy going down to Coventry Basin

Date: Sat, 04 Dec 1999 15:00:19 GMT
From: Mike Casswell

Impossible to pick just one favourite, but here are a few:

The Titford. I know that it's scruffy, that the locks have been in a poor 
state and that it's often necessary to mess about filling pounds in order 
to get up - but isn't all that part of the fun? But best of all it has 
lots of that elusive waterway quality - 'otherness'. You're in a busy 
industrial area within a massive conurbation and yet the two worlds 
hardly connect. Then there's the New Navigation, an excellent pub with an 
ex-boating family running it.

Only been there once, but the section of the Leeds & Liverpool east of 
Greenberfield locks. This is the only place so far where I have 
experienced canal boating in a real high moorland environment, with the 
sound of nothing but sheep and lapwings. I look forward to more of this 
kind of boating once the Rochdale and Huddersfield are open again!

I have enjoyed most of the big lock flights round the system, but my 
favourite is not one of the biggest - Delph. I find it difficult to 
analyse exactly why I like it so, it is to do with the era and style of 
construction. It's not a collection of 18th century locks, it's a single 
entity built with enormous confidence and style. Add the wonderful sight 
lines and the superb collection of local pubs and it's a must for a 
visit. Even got the shopping centre to hand, for those not totally 
convinced by canal architecture!

Consall Forge must be on most people's list. I envy those who discover it 
by boat, since it is local to me here and often visited by land. It does 
have an air of magic, now with the addition of steam trains. All we need 
now is a more sympathetic tenant at the Black Lion.

Plug: If you're visiting the Caldon, please call at the other Black Lion 
in Cheddleton village adjacent to the church, high above the canal. It's 
had a fairly chequered time in the last few years, but Mick and Liz, old 
drinking companions of mine, have had the pub for a year now and it is 
really excellent.

I hope that these few will prompt others, I could go on...

From: "Richard Lucas"
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 17:25:22 -0000

I would back up Bruce's suggestion re the Staffs and Worcs.  But if really
pushed, I would have to go for the section of the Calder & Hebble from
Salterhebble to Sowerby Bridge, and the first bit of the Rochdale, including
Tuel Lane tunnel and lock.  This section is scenic, and contains a wealth of
fascinating canally bits and pieces, including a brand new lock, a basin and
warehouses, the three Salterhebble locks,  & a guillotine lock gate.
Sowerby Bridge is my favourite canal town, with excellent pubs and

Best Wishes
Web Site: http://website.lineone.net/~thelucases

Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 19:19:06 +0000
To: "Canals"
From: Andy Greener
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

Julian writes:

>Its difficult since there are so many good parts to the canal system and
>I haven't been across the Leeds and Liverpool yet, that is this years

Ah, be prepared to be enchanted by the Gargrave to Barrowford section of the L&L
then... my fav. Looking forward to getting Whisper up to that neck of
the woods myself to make the introductions....

Andy Greener
n.b. Whisper

From: "Bruce Peckett"
To: "Canals"
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 20:17:10 -0000
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

On 4 Dec 99, at 17:15, Julian wrote:


> For me there are two, depending on which boat we are on:
> On Idleness its not a canal but the Thames between Brentford and the
> Thames Barrier. On Slow Motion its the Aylesbury arm far more rural
> and majestic than Northampton Arm and no Bruce you cant comment since
> you have never been down the Aylesbury Arm.

I've never boated it, walked quite a bit of it. Don't think it beats the 
Rothersthorpe flight myself but it certainly comes close. On the 
rural front, you had to know the Northampton before they started 
building all over it. Ten years ago or more, there was no question in 
my mind about my favourite (despite having fallen in love with the 
whole canal scene during a superb first time week on the 

Canals always seem different (and better) from a boat so I'll have to 
reserve judgement until I finally get around to that particular trip 
(quite why we've never turned off and headed for Aylesbury I really 
don't know)

From: "Bruce Peckett"
To: "Canals"
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 09:00:36 -0000
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

Love the BCN and the Titford is special even by BCN standards

Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 10:06:00 -0400 (AST)
From: Joan Payzant
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

My favourite stretch of the waterways is from Wrenbury to Hurleston
Junction on the Llangollen. Just thinking about it makes me wish I was
there. Perhaps it is not the most beautiful section of the system, but on
twelve or more occasions after waiting a year or two we would finally step
on board one of English County Cruises beautifully fitted out narrowboats
at the Wrenbury base and start out on another two or three week adventure.
My feelings about the next hour or two of the scenery are coloured by the
excitement of not knowing what little adventures would befall us during
our holiday, as well as by passing the landmarks that had become so
familiar:  the stout rope dangling from a tree branch which young lads
used to swing themselves into the middle of the canal for a dip on a hot
summer day; the heron standing motionless by the same lock (Baddiley
perhaps?) almost every year; the quiet pastoral scenery on both sides of
the canal, with trees arching overhead... 

From: "Iain and Ann STREET"
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 14:41:21 -0000

I have been pondering which bit of canal is my favourite and I have come to
the conclusion that I love them all.......with perhaps a slight bias in
favour of the Union canal and Forth and Clyde canals in Scotland cos there
is so much going on there just now.

Just to be afloat is magic. The feeling of peace and tranquillity which
seems to descend as soon as we get afloat sets the scene for the next few
days or weeks. No papers, no TV, no radio, no idea which day it is. Time to
relax and unwind and discuss every subject under the sun. (I recall once
spending several miles on the Thames discussing urinals).
The joy of just toddling along and chatting to folk on the towpath or at
locks is hard to beat. Yes, I think I love all canals and can't off the top
of my head think of one I don't like.


From: "Michael Cobb"
To: "Canals"
Subject: Favourite sections of canals
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:17:08 -0000

It is difficult, as others have said to pick just one, but if I had to I
think I would go for the Curdworth flight on the Birmingham and Fazeley.  It
is a while since we have been down there but each time that we have the
locks have looked good with red painted tips to the paddles racks.  Do they
still paint the tops on these locks?  Incidentally it was here that we
bought our Dunton windlass from a lock keeper who told us he was responsible
for their design.

Jacquie suggests Hopwas wood (especially in Spring time) incidentally also
on the B&F, has anyone tried counting the BCN marker posts in the woods?
She also enjoyed Tardebigge, we have only done that once so perhaps a
candidate for a revisit, it should be quieter in 2000!

Michael Cobb
nb Touch and Tell (on the web ring)

From: Terry Rigden
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 08:13:06 +0000
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
TO: "Canals"

My favorite section is the Staffs & Worcs from Kidderminster to 
Autherly.  Its narrow winding charecter and locks cut into the 
sandstone are delightful.
And my least favourite is the stretch of the Coventry that goes 
through Nuneaton particularly during fishing matches

Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 09:28:26 +0100
To: "Canals"
From: Bruce Napier
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

Here's my offering, fwiw:

Anderton -> Preston Brook, T&M
Crick -> Top of Foxton (ie 20 mile pound), GULS
Edgbaston -> Gas Street *at night*, W&B
Calvely -> Wharton Lock, SU/Chester canal

I'll consult the rest of the family for further thoughts tonight!



From: "Smedley, Rupert"
To: "Canals"
Subject: RE: Favourite sections of canals
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 12:23:44 +0000

> Ann Harvey wrote
> Second favourite canal (after 'our canal' at Kinver) is the Llangollen at
> its upper end.  The viaducts and tunnels and spectacular views must be
> unrivalled - unless you know different  :-)
Presumeably you mean the excellent view of the Chirk viaduct from the Chirk
aqueduct, Marple is similar in that respect!

Noone has mentioned the poor old Grand Union, I am rather fond of Stoke
Hammond Three, also Marsworth flight and the junction area are quite

Can we nominate derelict canals?
The Droitwich narrow canal flight is quite spectacular in engineering terms,
also I am fond of the Wilts and Berks esp. at Foxham.

I agree with other people about the BCN, esp Dudley tunnel, Engine arm,
Stourbridge 16, and all the rest. I was also very impressed with the Stiffs
and Worse south of Stourton junction, having done it for the first time this

So much to nominate................

Rupert Smedley

Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 12:53:08 +0000
To: "Canals"
From: Martin Ludgate
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

Out of all the currently navigable ones, I think I'd say the Rochdale
from Sowerby Bridge to Littleborough, followed by the Caldon and
the BCN (especially the bits away from the main line).  Or maybe
the Basingstoke - but that's because of my personal involvement
in restoring it, rather than because it's such an attractive waterway.
(which it is!)

But I think I might change my mind when we get the Thames &
Severn open through the Golden Valley....

If river navigations are included, it's got to be the Barrow, in
Ireland.  Or the Calder & Hebble... or.... or...
Martin Ludgate

From: "Andrew Dyke"
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 19:27:05 -0000

Hi All,

Have read this thread with great interest. As I read each post I kept
finding myself saying 'Oh yes, I remember that one' and other such

I think on reflection it has to be the Staffs and Worcs. Now to pick out
one section of this canal is tricky because its all so nice. We have
been on this canal 3 times and have been in both directions and in all
weathers and its always been a pleasure. If I was really pushed, I guess
the Kinver - Stourport section of the S&W is the nicest. The nicest lock is the
second one out of Kidderminster. Rock one  side, countryside on the
other and trees lining the canal. When the sun shines through the
branches this lock is great.

My second choice would be the last bit of the Llangollen, from the
pontiwhatsit to the end. This canal is quite different to any other
section we have been on and is really lovely.

'Don't Fall In',


Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 22:54:42 +0000
To: "Canals"
From: Martin E Phillips
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals

Having mentally agreed with everyone who has mentioned a bit of canal
that I know (especially the S&W either side of Kidderminster, and Tyrley
locks - the latter having happy memories as the first locks we went
through on our new boat as a family), I must mention my local favourite.

The last couple of miles of the Glos - Sharpness canal has a toally
different feel to it. It's more marine than canally, the nearest thing
you can get to being on the sea without leaving man-made waters. From
the white-painted cottages at Purton, the vast Severn estuary is just
on the other side of the towpath, a huge empty space known only to the
wading birds. Carry on past the ruined Severn bridge, and tie up outside
the little marina at Sharpness. Walk down to the end of the old dock and
admire the expanse of sea and sky by the old customs house. Magic!


From: "Smedley, Rupert"
To: "Canals"
Subject: RE: Favourite sections of canal
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 11:41:14 +0000

But George didn't actually specify navigable canals.

I agree with your earlier posting, the section of the Rochdale from
Todmorden up to the summit is great. That enormous curved retaining wall
supporting the railway on the off side, and the castellated railway bridge
crossing the canal. Its an amazing place to even contemplate building a
canal, and then they managed to shoehorn the railway in up the same valley!!

Rupert Smedley

PS I wonder why no body has nominated the Grand Union through Milton Keynes,
best done at night I am told, probably because you can't work out where you
are even in daylight! Comments please Mandy!

Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 18:57:10 -0800
To: "Canals"
From: Judy Voets
Subject: Re: Favorite canals

	'ow Do all ... It may not be our favorite canal but we really
enjoyed the Sheffield and South Yorkshire, especially the section from
Mexborough to Sheffield.  The locks going up to Sheffield go through
countryside and the back door of the city.  Another one is the L & L.  Only
done Wigan to Silsden but maybe we will do the whole nine yards in 2000.
Of course we enjoy the Staffs and Worcs, the Macc., T & M (in most places),
Shroppie, etc., etc.,etc.   The one canal I don't like to do is the New
Junction ! There is always a cross wind and the one lock is a real pain
with it's bridge in the middle of the lock ...  We do like the GU but have
only gone down once and need to do a return trip sometime in the next
century.   ...   That's All Folks ...


From: "Mandy Morley"
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 12:22:37 -0000

Mike Stevens wrote:

> The BCN.  All of it.

I agree - but then that's why we do daft things like the BCN Challenge -
special favourites are along by Langley Maltings on the Titford and Icknield
Port Loop - a nice bit of real canal where you can feel touch and smell the

From: Jeff Dennison
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 21:44:26 +0000

One of my favorites is where I live on the North Oxford canal.  The
section between Sutton's Stop and Hillmorton.  A variety of bridges
from Brindley and Telford.  Some wonderful cast Bridges from Horsely
Iron works.  Cuttings and embankments at least five aqueducts, loads
of loops to explore on foot where the new cut straightened the line.
Unique sets of paired locks at Hillmorton with historic dry docks to
one side,   Several good pubs canalside and load of pubs and good
shopping in Rugby with Tescos nearly at the waterside.  Good Indian,
Chinese and vegetarian restaurants in Rugby.  A brilliant Balti house
at Newbold as well as an excellent fish and chip shop and several more
good pubs.   A canal feel at the Elephant and Castle in Coventry and
the historic junction with a lot of old boaters watching the stunts
from the bridge.

All this in about 14 miles who needs more.

My vote for the most overrated canal goes to the Welsh section of the
Shropshire Union only really gets interesting after Ellesmere.


From: "David Crowe"
To: "Canals"
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 13:18:00 +0000
Subject: Re: Favourite sections of canals

I am trying to remember the boating trips over the last several 
years. There haven't been many bits of the canal I have done twice, 
so it is hard to compare.

I would have to say that the Mon & Brec was probably the best from a 
scenery point of view. It must have been quite good because I felt 
disappointed with the South Oxford canal which we did the next year. 

Also the Peak Forest, especially from Marple to Bugsworth, which is 
quite scenic. 

Tardebigge locks on the Worcester and Birmingham canal was quite an 
experience too. 

The Calder and Hebble was quite nice, as was the Leeds and Liverpool, 
though the latter was a bit hard work at times. The Aire and Calder 
made a change, such a large waterway compared to what we had been 
used to. The whole trip provide to be quite amusing, the story of 
which I have posted before.

The most exiting has to be the trip from Trevor, this was my 
first trip, straight over the Pontcysyllte (?) aqueduct. Chirk tunnel 
proved interesting on the return journey, due to the current.

The most strenious trip was the Leicester Circuit. Lots of variety. 

The most boring was the Bridgewater to Manchester, but that was 
probably because there were no locks and it poured with rain all 

Does rafting on the Montgomeryshire canal as a young lad count? 
What's the license fee for a 7ft raft?

Dave Crowe

From: Malcolm Nixon
Subject: Re: favorite sections of canals
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 01:08:24 +0000
To: "Canals"

On Fri, 3 Dec 1999 12:51:19 -0500 (EST), George Pearson wrote:

Difficult to pick the favourite, but:

1)	The upper parts of the Caldon, especialy the stretch from
Hazelhurst down to Consall

2) 	Bosley on the Macclesfield, and then Upper Peak Forest

3) 	Shropshire Union, especially Audlem flight

4)	Llangollen ( but not in the summer peak )  
nb Duplin

From: "Tim Lewis"
To: "Canals"
Subject: Re: Favorite Sections Of Canal
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 01:31:49 -0000

Can I add my selection :-

1. The Surrey Section of the Basingstoke canal especially the Deepcut flight

The Deepcut flight through the Guards Depot can only be described as
astoundingly pretty unknown even to the local population of Aldershot and
Farnborough let alone boaters.

Its location between the Army lands and the railway mean that it shouldn't
suffer from over development.

2. The BCN including the Dudley & Stourbridge Canals

I would still include the whole of the BCN despite a great deal of its
character being lost due to the closure of the traditional canalside
industries and the subsequent redevelopment of the land for housing/retail.
Having had a trip around a working Round Oak Steelworks as a schoolboy I
can't say I blame anyone for not wanting to work in that type of atmosphere
if alternative jobs are available but I still find the sight of its
replacement, the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, completely at odds as a
canalside scene.

Also whilst accepting that the prettyfication of central Birmingham's canals
has opened them up to a much bigger public I look back not that many years
with fond memories of boating through Farmers Bridge and the adjacent canals
in an atmosphere completely at odds with the mayhem that is the centre of
Birmingham only hundreds of yards away.

3. The Kennet & Avon  - the last few miles into Bath

4. Southern Stratford around Lapworth

5. Leeds & Liverpool Summit

6. Rochdale Canal from Hebden Bridge To Littleborough

Having boated this section for many years prior to its reconnection to the
main system I must admit to  a degree of sadness that with the building of
Tuel Lane locks that I and a few friends would no longer be able to go
boating on this beautiful canal for a long weekend and have it completely to
ourselves, something we did many times.

Every year we went there would be another section having been  reopened
allowing slightly more boating but not enough to allow our normal hell for
leather type boating, consequently we got to know the restaurants and pubs
of this part of Calderdale extremely well.

7. The Thames- The top end and the stretch around Maidenhead

I would have nominated the whole of the Thames but this seemed a bit greedy.
The main downer on the Thames is the lack of places to moor near the main
towns and the lack of 'little gem' pubs

From: "Smedley, Rupert"
To: "Canals"
Subject: RE: favourite sections of canal
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 10:16:35 +0000

> Tim Lewis wrote:
> 2. The BCN including the Dudley & Stourbridge Canals

Welcome to the list Tim, I agree with your comments about the BCN, its
character is changing quite dramatically. I remember the first time we went
along the Dudley No1 through what we expected to be a derelict steelworks,
only to be presented with "Merry Hell". It is really quite surreal boating
through there at night, with all the lights and people staggering out of the
night clubs, and then you pass under the bridge at the end back into the
normal canal world.

Rupert Smedley

From: Malcolm Nixon
Subject: Re: Favourite sections of canal
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 20:39:23 +0000
To: "Canals"

On Fri, 10 Dec 1999 13:23:42 -0000, "Bruce Peckett" wrote:

>(Our boat has always been kept on the 15 mile pound ie; Stoke 
>Bruern to Whilton, which, to be slightly pedantic, isn't a summit 

Another reason I like this stretch, is I have been travelling the West
coast railway for years, and have been getting tantalising glimps of
the canal here abouts. Especially on the sleeper - we pass Rugby at
06:30, and the Blisworth pound at about 06:45 - so I eat my breakfast
in the cabin whilst canal / boat spotting !!!
nb Duplin

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