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pomkitanner

Nicholsons Guides

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I am considering buying the  guide for 4 counties ring to be used next year .  Have read the various reviews on the Amazon site , with some being quite negative on the coverage . Specifically that a lot was devoted to the wider area , to the detriment of information pertaining to the canal itself.  I already possess a copy for the GU, & Oxford, 2009 print, and found it very useful on 2 previous trips. Be interested if other members have any views on the current edition . Thanks

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They're all in the same style, so if one suits you the others probably will. For actual cruising i don't use any other guide, for research i sometimes do. 

 

Printed guides date, so either accept the old adventurous way of finding out what beer the pub sells when you get there, or supplement your guide with an internet search. My preference is the former unless it's absolutely critical.

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Nicholsons are fine except for pub information as they change landlords/cooks often and Nicholsons are updated only every three years.  Pearsons date quite quickly too.  When buying, make sure you get the latest edition - those on Amazon/eBay are often older issues.

For pubs, use Nicholsons to get the name and do a quick google.

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5 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

either accept the old adventurous way of finding out what beer the pub sells when you get there,

or if it's still a pub...

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10 hours ago, pomkitanner said:

I am considering buying the  guide for 4 counties ring to be used next year .  Have read the various reviews on the Amazon site , with some being quite negative on the coverage . Specifically that a lot was devoted to the wider area , to the detriment of information pertaining to the canal itself.  I already possess a copy for the GU, & Oxford, 2009 print, and found it very useful on 2 previous trips. Be interested if other members have any views on the current edition . Thanks

'Guide' is the operative word when it comes to Nicholsons.

 

They are useful but not to be relied on completely.

 

As already mentioned pub info. goes out of date regularly but we find them not to be totally relied upon for water ponts and CRT facilities either.

 

I would still buy one but just be aware of the limitations.

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Funnily I just have gone through the same dilemma for an upcoming trip on the Llangollen canal! I have done this trip a few times and have a Waterways World Guide to the Llangollen from 2005. It is very good but sadly not produced any more and getting quite out of date so thought I should replace it.

 

I read all the reviews on both Pearsons and Nicholsons and thought the Nicholsons sounded best, so I bought it. It appeared very good on first glance, however there were a few things that bothered me. Firstly they use OS 1:25000 maps.......great you might think. But they use a custom zoom so that the scale is actually 1:30000 in the guide. This makes the maps a touch on the small side and slightly hard to read compared to my old Waterways world guide. It is harder to spot Water points/winding holes/visitor moorings.

 

So I bought the Pearsons guide as well! It maps are much clearer. Very easy to spot canal facilities and navigational hazards. Each map also has a cruising time at the top of the page, so you know how long it will take to travel that particular map.....very helpful. It's maps are always horozontal, i.e. the canal runs from left to right on the page no matter where North is. Some people don't like this and I can see why, however I don't mind as it does make the map very clear and easy to read. However it is dominated by long paragraphs of sometimes rambling text describing the history of the canal etc, which is nice to read, but I would rather a canal map be a bit more concise. It is also not ring bound so will be more of a pain to use on the move.

 

So in summary I don't think either guide is perfect. If Pearsons ring bound their guides and cut out some of the text they would be much better and if Nicholsons made their map scale bigger and more easily readable they would be much better. On my next trip I will take all of them and see what works. I wish Waterways World still produced their guides as I still slightly prefer it!

Edited by booke23
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Thanks for all the suggestions . Can someone please recommend an online book store other than Amazon.  I am in NZ and currently the guide is not available for delivery here. Why is beyond me as I bought my Oxford one on Amazon . Thanks

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1 hour ago, pomkitanner said:

Thanks for all the suggestions . Can someone please recommend an online book store other than Amazon.  I am in NZ and currently the guide is not available for delivery here. Why is beyond me as I bought my Oxford one on Amazon . Thanks

I got a couple of mine from here.

 

But I dont know if they do international delivery.

 

https://www.canalshop.co.uk/acatalog/Guide-No-4-Four-Counties-the-Welsh-Canals-2686.html

Just checked. They do.

 

 

Screenshot_20200806-164908_Chrome.jpg

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On 06/08/2020 at 14:14, booke23 said:

Funnily I just have gone through the same dilemma for an upcoming trip on the Llangollen canal! I have done this trip a few times and have a Waterways World Guide to the Llangollen from 2005. It is very good but sadly not produced any more and getting quite out of date so thought I should replace it.

 

I read all the reviews on both Pearsons and Nicholsons and thought the Nicholsons sounded best, so I bought it. It appeared very good on first glance, however there were a few things that bothered me. Firstly they use OS 1:25000 maps.......great you might think. But they use a custom zoom so that the scale is actually 1:30000 in the guide. This makes the maps a touch on the small side and slightly hard to read compared to my old Waterways world guide. It is harder to spot Water points/winding holes/visitor moorings.

 

So I bought the Pearsons guide as well! It maps are much clearer. Very easy to spot canal facilities and navigational hazards. Each map also has a cruising time at the top of the page, so you know how long it will take to travel that particular map.....very helpful. It's maps are always horozontal, i.e. the canal runs from left to right on the page no matter where North is. Some people don't like this and I can see why, however I don't mind as it does make the map very clear and easy to read. However it is dominated by long paragraphs of sometimes rambling text describing the history of the canal etc, which is nice to read, but I would rather a canal map be a bit more concise. It is also not ring bound so will be more of a pain to use on the move.

 

So in summary I don't think either guide is perfect. If Pearsons ring bound their guides and cut out some of the text they would be much better and if Nicholsons made their map scale bigger and more easily readable they would be much better. On my next trip I will take all of them and see what works. I wish Waterways World still produced their guides as I still slightly prefer it!

 

Just thought I'd update the above as I have now used both in anger.

 

I stand by all of what I said above, except the Nicholsons guide had quite a few errors. Not just silly errors but I noticed a winding hole that wasn't marked on the Nicholsons which is pretty bad. Pearsons is definitely easier to use/read on the move, just wish it was ring bound. 

 

So it's Pearsons for me from now on! 

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I have a full set of Nicholson's first edition guides (the usual guides 1-5 plus the Real Ale guide produced for CAMRA, picked up for 10p in a remaindered book shop), plus several volumes of the subsequent editions.

 

The second edition was truly dire, maps at 2 miles to the inch rather than 2 inches to the mile, with many maps having  locks and canal printed out of register. The one I bought motivated me to immediately scour the local bookshops to complete my collection of first edition volumes!  

 

The later ones using reproductions of full colour OS maps are all very well, but I find the older black and white line drawing maps clearer and more convenient, as I used to annotate my guides with times and dates of stopping places, as well as correcting errors such as non-marked or non-existent winding holes etc. No problem with black and white maps, less practical with full colour.

Edited by Ronaldo47
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If you are looking for a reasonably good on-line map for route planning, there's one hidden away on the BCN page of the C&RT website. You have to scroll down the page a bit, but the map is interactive and does scale up to the level of individual locks.

 

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/birmingham-canal-navigations

 

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On 06/08/2020 at 14:14, booke23 said:

I have done this trip a few times and have a Waterways World Guide to the Llangollen from 2005. It is very good but sadly not produced any more and getting quite out of date so thought I should replace it.

Have the canal route, locks and bridges changed much in the last 15 years?

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26 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Have the canal route, locks and bridges changed much in the last 15 years?

 

Well CRT demolished and fully rebuilt Hurleston lock last winter ...

 

I know what you mean though.  It's only usually pubs that change in the Nicholson guides, so I'm quite happy with my set of old ones.  The odd relevant change (moved waterpoints etc) are rare enough that a correction in biro is good enough for me.

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51 minutes ago, Pete of Ebor said:

If you are looking for a reasonably good on-line map for route planning, there's one hidden away on the BCN page of the C&RT website. You have to scroll down the page a bit, but the map is interactive and does scale up to the level of individual locks.

 

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/birmingham-canal-navigations

 

Thanks a good pointer, i have before viewed the C&RT maps , but not with this level of detail. hopefully i have  internet connection. 

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The first longish trip down the Trent and Mersey I did on this boat used a borrowed 1971 edition Nicholson's. Still good enough to navigate by and make sure I didn't take any wrong turns! Personally I like them, but that is mostly because I've used OS 1:25000 maps so much over the years that I can interpret them easily. I supplement Nicholson's with the CaRT downloadable boaters guides for the latest stuff on waterpoints, stoppages, winding holes etc.

Jen

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies

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1 hour ago, David Mack said:

Have the canal route, locks and bridges changed much in the last 15 years?

 

Not at all. I dare say a canal guide from the 1800's (if such a thing exists) would be good enough for navigation. 

 

In the case of the LLangollen canal, the section around Froncysyllte and the Trevor to Llangollen section was completely rebulit in the 1980's and the mooring basin in Llangollen was built in 2004......certainly worth knowing about that! 

 

It's the additional information that dates.....pubs, shops etc. But we use google maps for that these days anyway.  

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I still use the old Nicholsons with the maps vertically at the side of the page. I find the new ones quite difficult to follow, the page turns aren't very intuitive.  If i want pubs or shops I use maps.me offline as nothing printed is up to date. Pearson's has a more narrative approach, but as my old books have seversl years of annotations, I stick to them. 

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2 hours ago, Arthur Marshall said:

I still use the old Nicholsons with the maps vertically at the side of the page. I find the new ones quite difficult to follow, the page turns aren't very intuitive.  If i want pubs or shops I use maps.me offline as nothing printed is up to date. Pearson's has a more narrative approach, but as my old books have seversl years of annotations, I stick to them. 

Yes, Nicholsons old format was much better than their current format. 

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2 hours ago, Arthur Marshall said:

I still use the old Nicholsons with the maps vertically at the side of the page. I find the new ones quite difficult to follow, the page turns aren't very intuitive.  If i want pubs or shops I use maps.me offline as nothing printed is up to date. Pearson's has a more narrative approach, but as my old books have seversl years of annotations, I stick to them. 

 

Yes, I still use those for planning the day ahead. I like the locks and miles between points, which was lost in later editions.

 

The spiral binding was the only improvement of the later editions.

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I'm loathe to buy updates of my set of Nicholsons. They are well worn to put it mildly, but I've made so many notes on the various pages during the last 20+ years that it would take me for ever to transfer them onto a new edition.

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On 28/08/2020 at 14:18, booke23 said:

Not at all. I dare say a canal guide from the 1800's (if such a thing exists) would be good enough for navigation. 

Bradshaw's were apparently making maps of the inland waterways before they were publishing railway guides, so you might be able to test this out!

Here is one from 1830 for the Wey and Arun. They also published Canals & Navigable Rivers of England & Wales by Henry Rodolph de Salis, but the first edition came out in 1904, so outside your century.

Jen

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