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The whole network - how long to do it?


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...unless he means Brandon Lock, which although it's not on the levels, is particularly short and limits navigation.

 

As does Upware Lock (to 62ish feet) to get onto Burwell and Wicken lodes.

 

Assuming my childhood memory is not playing tricks, Brandon Lock is new and some of us had the foresight to pass through before it was constructed.

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Me too, but if this were "just a minute" I'd pull you up on deviation. I also need to be realistic about how long I'll live, I reckon to do everything I want I need to make it to 150 at least...

 

 

 

 

I hadn't thought of dimensions - Lutine is 45 foot and Juno 23, both are narrow beam. I don't mind using a dinghy but I'm not adding all the waterways a dinghy can navigate, there are far too many of them! In fact, even identifying them all would be a challenge. I've seen the Dorset and Somerset Canal at Coleford with enough water in to float a canoe...

 

 

Height may be you main issue then. My boat won't go through Standedge and will only just get under the M5 on the Droitwich when the river level is very low. Dudley tunnel is a total no go, although I've kayaked it. I've not tried Frognall yet.

 

The short lock I was thinking of is Welches Dam but I've checked and it looks to be closed anyway.

 

I'll say again that you'll finish it all and then some more canal will re-open, so I wouldn't focus too hard on the box-ticking element.

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Height may be you main issue then. My boat won't go through Standedge and will only just get under the M5 on the Droitwich when the river level is very low. Dudley tunnel is a total no go, although I've kayaked it. I've not tried Frognall yet.

 

The short lock I was thinking of is Welches Dam but I've checked and it looks to be closed anyway.

 

I'll say again that you'll finish it all and then some more canal will re-open, so I wouldn't focus too hard on the box-ticking element.

 

Have a look here :- http://www.project-hereward.org/

 

The only bit of EA involvement on the ML and its out of action.

 

Good job Well Creek wasn't filled in way back when....

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There are around 3,300 miles of navigable inland waterway in Britain (having spent some time on the calculation for BW back in 2000). I didn't count the locks, so all you have to do is count them yourself, work out an average time for passing a lock and for one mile of waterways,do the multiplication and add on 20 or 30 percent for having to double back, and that should give you the answer,

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Height may be you main issue then. My boat won't go through Standedge and will only just get under the M5 on the Droitwich when the river level is very low. Dudley tunnel is a total no go, although I've kayaked it. I've not tried Frognall yet.

 

The short lock I was thinking of is Welches Dam but I've checked and it looks to be closed anyway.

 

I'll say again that you'll finish it all and then some more canal will re-open, so I wouldn't focus too hard on the box-ticking element.

 

Juno is high in the water - Lutine is a 1972 GRP topped steel narrow boat and is low profile - my guess is Lutine will fit Froghall, but having been through Dudley Tunnel on the two tunnel trips she certainly won't fit that!

 

I'm trying not to be too pedantic about defining the whole system, it's my dream and I'll do what matters to me, the working definition serves the purpose of getting a handle on how long - if, for example, my definition left out the entire fenland river system it would be a lot quicker, if I try and include ones with massive tidal passages to get to them then it would add quite a bit, and anyway, Juno can be trailed to those.

 

I suspect you can hit other issues as well, does anyone really know exactly what, in the Witham Navigable Drains, is actually navigable?

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Could it be done in a year off?

In theory yes it could; in practice I suspect it would be difficult bordering on impossible.

 

I put it together in CanalPlan as a series of itineraries based around cruising the waterways covered by the Nicholson's guides in sequence in such a way that it could be done as a continuous journey. I then added Northampton to Cambridge and Bedford and back which isn't covered by Nicholson. I didn't include the Witham navigable drains or Middle Levels other than necessary for the above journey.

 

The total time using the default settings was 237 days or 1650 hours. That seems in keeping with the actual experience of the TNC.

 

I would guess the practicalities of doing that in one year with the limitations of tidal sections, river navigations and stoppages plus the difficulties of keeping boat and crew serviced would be too much.

 

JP

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There are people who go to great lengths to try to break the record for doing the whole London Underground in record time, planning every detail of the itinerary, but that has carefully defined rules and is more predictable; they don't need to operate the trains, they just get on them and the trains are run for them to a timetable.

 

This project would, for the reasons given by Captain Pegg, be difficult to predict and plans would need to be adapted for unplanned closures, but I feel that a skilled and dedicated team could easily do it within a year based upon that figure of 1650 hours, without needing to carry on in darkness. I reckon the optimum crew would be three people: a skipper with the boating experience to do the tidal and other difficult waters safely, a lock operator with good fitness, and a cook/housekeeper who can pitch in with some help at locks. One of them has to know how to look after the engine. Any more people and cabin fever could set in! The key would be to use the long daylight of the spring and summer months, and to plan ahead well to work around winter stoppages.

 

In this new sport, is any amount of help from a support team not on the boat permitted, e.g. route planning, shopping for supplies and delivering them to the boat, assistance on lock flights etc.? I suspect there should be two separate categories, one where unlimited support is allowed, and one where the crew have to do everything for themselves that typical CC'ers would.

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I suspect there should be two separate categories, one where unlimited support is allowed, and one where the crew have to do everything for themselves that typical CC'ers would.

 

May I suggest a third category, being; single handing.

 

The reason being that I have found, as a single hander, that I need to tweak the default settings of CanalPlan to produce timings which are applicable. I suspect if I used my settings to time the route which Captain Pegg has suggested, I might come out with slightly longer than 1650 hours. Also, as a single hander, the number of available cruising hours per day is reduced by the requirement to stop for meal and personal needs breaks

 

I have been following this discussion with interest as after 4 years of owning my boat, I have taken the decision to live aboard full time and continuously cruise. Of course I have already travelled a good deal of the connected network and have been colouring in my waterways map. I actually use two colours as I tick off the waterways I have travelled in both directions. My reasoning being that a cruising ring, for example, looks and feels quite different depending whether it is completed clockwise or anti-clockwise and I feel it can't be properly ticked-off the list until done both ways.

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1650 hours is only 5 hours a day, with one day a week off. Sounds very doable if you could do it full time.

My thinking was that because it would have to be done in a pre-determined pattern the winter stoppages would make it difficult to utilise the winter months. I am sure a feasible plan could be devised for April to October inclusive in broadly 8 hour days and with contingency for a day or two off each month for servicing the boat, the odd inevitable repair, minor stoppages and a bit of flexibility for tidal sections.

 

The problem then comes that it would require all the rivers to be in navigable condition within a relatively small window when you would need to be navigating them. I think it would take a bit of luck for that to happen without pushing the plan backward into the winter stoppage season and getting stuck.

 

JP

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Isn't this topic turning into a bit of a race. I'm sure there must be a more interesting side to it.

It if you haven't got any experience of completing it. Surely someone would have a few absolutely must dos or wish they had of dones.

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Isn't this topic turning into a bit of a race.

The OP posed the question "could it be done in a year?" hence the attempt to answer that question. I would agree it wouldn't necessarily be the most advantageous way even if possible but everyone has their own preferences and constraints on how they do things.

 

JP

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There's certainly a lot to be said for the idea of doing it in one whack. I'm intending to do it over the course of a decade or two, but since I always return to the western K&A for winter (work and volunteer commitments, also I just like it here) I'm probably going to be doing the Grand Union and Oxford canals 20+ times each and the K&A 40+ times.

 

On the other hand, once you've done it all, there's nothing new to see. You'll be waiting for restoration projects to finish just to see some new waterway. Not that places aren't nice the second time, but the first time is always more exciting.

 

It's also nice to alternate between hard travel and work. By about 2 months or so of daily cruising, I'm looking forward to getting back "home" and after a couple of months of winter mooring, my feet are getting itchy again.

 

And to those excluding the fens from their plans: I beg you to reconsider. They were some of the most enjoyable cruising we've had. The Hundred Foot Drain was a bizarre experience, being able to see 10 miles in both directions and not another boat in sight!

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I suspect you can hit other issues as well, does anyone really know exactly what, in the Witham Navigable Drains, is actually navigable?

 

There is no single answer - it depends on air draught and nerve largely.

 

See this page: http://narrowboattacet.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/down-drains.html

 

The nerve bit is due to the possibility of water levels rising on the drains. With a few mm of clearance on the way in, one hopes that the levels do not rise such you become trapped in a ditch. Some prospect of winding is not a bad idea, either but we did have to reverse out of some stretches.

 

Realistically, with a conventional 6 ft air draught, the available parts might take a day.

 

One the more general question, if you are content with "most" rather than "all", e.g. leaving out the Fens and, more importantly, those limbs that are unavailable as you pass, it could readily be done in a year as Faded to Scarlet says. It would be preferable to start in the winter so that such progress as can be made during the stoppage season was profitable - and reduce the prospects of being stymied at the end.

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There are around 3,300 miles of navigable inland waterway in Britain (having spent some time on the calculation for BW back in 2000). I didn't count the locks, so all you have to do is count them yourself, work out an average time for passing a lock and for one mile of waterways,do the multiplication and add on 20 or 30 percent for having to double back, and that should give you the answer,

 

Surely to 'do' the whole system you need to traverse every mile of waterway in both directions? Any stretch of canal looks completely different the other way around.

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Doing the whole network single handed would indeed be a separate category I'm sure. To get round in a decent time our hero would have to be very versatile, self-reliant and probably somewhat obsessed by the challenge of ploughing on day after day without company on the boat; it could become something of an ordeal at times. He or she also has to be outgoing enough to charm the crews of other boats into helping at locks.

 

I can't see how anyone could say they've done the whole network without doing the Fens; they're inland waterways and definitely connected. I've done the Northampton Arm and a little way down the Nene, and found those locks were all working nicely.

 

It's always nice to do a new part of the network for the first time; if I were to colour in the bits I've done so far it would all be rather patchy because I crew for various other people. Am I talking myself into a project for my retirement here I wonder?

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Surely to 'do' the whole system you need to traverse every mile of waterway in both directions? Any stretch of canal looks completely different the other way around.

 

...or you could just turn around and look behind you occasionally.

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.

 

I can't see how anyone could say they've done the whole network without doing the Fens; they're inland waterways and definitely connected.

 

 

I think that the earlier post suggested omitting the Fens apart from the link route, i.e. you'd go through Whittlesey, March, Upwell and Outwell to Salter's Lode but not spend time beetling off to Ramsey and other outposts.

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Doing the whole network single handed would indeed be a separate category I'm sure. To get round in a decent time our hero would have to be very versatile, self-reliant and probably somewhat obsessed by the challenge of ploughing on day after day without company on the boat; it could become something of an ordeal at times. He or she also has to be outgoing enough to charm the crews of other boats into helping at locks.

 

Being single handed, apart from days here and there when friends and family come and play crew, I can honestly say that I love the time spent in my own company. So that, at least would not be a challenge. As for locks, I find crews of other boats are almost always willing to help. But I like the locks and moreover I like the process of getting the boat through on my own. Even more so, swing and lift bridges, where you have to be quite inventive, at times. So, as I'm not engaged in a race with myself, I would usually prefer to plod along without help. On the other hand, I don't like to think I'm slowing other people down, so if a crewed boat catches me up at a lock, and they offer to help, I will usually say thanks for the kind offer, but would you like to go ahead of me. Doesn't work when there are other crewed boats right behind them, of course. Then I'll gladly take the help offered.

 

The Fens are in my plan for 2017. This year I'm heading West and North, but leaving strategically placed bits of waterway (e.g. the Waever & the Liverpool link) to entice me back in future years.

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Being single handed, apart from days here and there when friends and family come and play crew, I can honestly say that I love the time spent in my own company. So that, at least would not be a challenge. As for locks, I find crews of other boats are almost always willing to help. But I like the locks and moreover I like the process of getting the boat through on my own. Even more so, swing and lift bridges, where you have to be quite inventive, at times. So, as I'm not engaged in a race with myself, I would usually prefer to plod along without help. On the other hand, I don't like to think I'm slowing other people down, so if a crewed boat catches me up at a lock, and they offer to help, I will usually say thanks for the kind offer, but would you like to go ahead of me. Doesn't work when there are other crewed boats right behind them, of course. Then I'll gladly take the help offered.

 

The Fens are in my plan for 2017. This year I'm heading West and North, but leaving strategically placed bits of waterway (e.g. the Waever & the Liverpool link) to entice me back in future years.

Phil Ambrose has me under strict instruction to tell anyone contemplating our bit of the world that its awful:-

 

We always in flood except for when the levels are so low you can't navigate, much like Goldie locks its never just right.

The pubs are rubbish.

 

Its flatter than a witches tit and there's nothing to see.

 

There's no moorings - at all.

 

You will sink, die, head explode or some other terror befall you on the short tidal section of the Ouse.

Likewise all of the Nene.

 

The less said about the levels the better.

 

The Northampton Arm is bandit country and you will be lucky to escape without coming to mortal harm.

 

I could go on and on about what an awful part of the world it is and cant emphasis enough that you would be wasting diesel on a fools quest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But a bit of me can't help ignoring Phil, (its ace BTW :) )

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