When our canals were first built about 200 years ago they were the first ever organised transport system and were even more influential to progress in their time than our motorways and airports today. They stretched from Yorkshire to Surrey and from North Wales to The Wash, and some of the pioneer engineering feats achieved such as tunnels and swing aqueducts would have appeared even more revolutionary in Georgian England than our adventures in space travel appear today.
After so many years the canals have mellowed and matured, with picturesque views framed by every bridge hole and the landscape gently changing around each tree lined bend. Time and nature have taken over and it no
longer seems contradictory to float gently around the side of a hill whilst enjoying panoramic views over the valley far below. We are fortunate that so much of the system has survived to remind us of bygone and more relaxed times, and with increased public interest, activity is returning to the "cut". The system is in better condition and the essential facilities have improved. These days shopping is easy and there are many more interesting places to visit by the way, but 1700 miles of canal does not easily respond to change and we are confident that you will find the essential magic of these secret routes through England will remain unaltered for many years to come.
Canal cruising has something to offer almost everyone for it combines the pleasures of the English countryside with the excitement and physical activity of boating.
It is the start of a real adventure when you set out to explore the new and unsuspected England of the Waterways, remote from main roads, railways and the hurry and bustle of modern life. Because you are moving slowly there is much more to see and you are able to become completely absorbed in the passing landscape. The wild life is fascinating, there are historic buildings to see, and the unique engineering works of the canals themselves to wonder at and often to operate for yourselves. The canal is in many ways like a linear village. As you cruise along from day to day you tend to meet and re-meet your fellow travellers but always with freedom to seek the gregariousness of a pubside mooring or the solitude of the country according to your inclinations.
The hundreds of miles of canals can provide one of the most satisfying and relaxing holidays around. A holiday without the fuss and hassle of package tours or crowded beaches. It allows you to be completely your own master to decide what to do and when to do it. There are very few restrictions to bother about. For some people the boating is the main pleasure. For others, visiting the many historic towns and villages along the way. Whatever your inclination, the choice is yours.
Few fail to respond to the romance and excitement of boating. Take "locking up" for example, running on ahead to open the huge oak lock gates, the boat enters and the gates swing to with a satisfying clump, the clack and clatter of winding paddles, the swish and swirl of water as the long and gaily painted boat rises in the lock, gates creaking with the weight. As water levels equalise the gate openers heave on the balance beams, the gentle throb of an engine and away up the pound you go to the next lock. It is all a team effort with an important job for everyone. The excitement is infectious and at the end of the day the sense of achievement is something to be remembered.