Blog Archives

Where are all the women?

Everyone – this blog included – talks about the famous men of the waterways. The great engineers, like Brindley, Telford, Jessop and Rennie, who made it all possible. The working men through the ages. Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman, who

Posted in History and traditions

The Grand Union canal: a retrospective

  I suspect that, even if you don’t think of yourself as a canal person, you’ve heard of the Grand Union. If “Name a Canal” were ever a question on Family Fortunes, it would be the top answer. (By the

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Posted in Cruising log, History and traditions


We have just moored in Banbury, home to a well-known nursery rhyme and the start point of Tom Rolt’s epic, indulgent, nostalgic, restoration-inspiring, much-loved-in-canal-circles and, most of all, extremely opinionated account of his travels on board Cressy, Narrow Boat. Now

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Posted in Cruising log, History and traditions

An A-Z of the waterways

The language of the cut can be a minefield, littered with jargon, in joke, traditional terminology and neologism a-plenty. I’m sure there are many worthy tomes that can teach you to ditch port and starboard in favour of on-side and

Posted in History and traditions, Life Aboard, The Boat

Famous cows

We’ve just been through the Foulridge Tunnel. It’s nearly a mile long, pretty straight and as dark and spooky as many other tunnels we’ve encountered so far. Apparently, in 1912, a cow named Buttercup fell in at one end, swam

Posted in Cruising log, History and traditions

That’s not a lock! This is a lock!

Standard narrow beam lock on the British canal system: 7ft (2.1m) wide 70ft (21m) long Depth varies, though say around 8ft (2.5m) deep. Overall, a nice snug fit for Felucca.  You’d need 25 of these locks to fill an Olympic

Posted in Cruising log, History and traditions, Statistics, Wonders of the waterways

From Ice Age to Leisure Age: the rise and fall and rise again of the Ellesmere Canal

Ten millennia ago, the last Ice Age ended. The glaciers retreated. Scars and pock marks from these grinding rivers of ice marked the landscape in profound and lasting ways. In this part of Shropshire, the glaciers left behind meres. These

Posted in Cruising log, History and traditions

What’s in a name

If there’s one thing I don’t really like about Felucca, it’s her name.  She was launched in 2002 as “Jubilee”, but somewhere along the line the first owners got tired of that and renamed her after a type of Egyptian

Posted in History and traditions, The Boat

Two waterways both alike in dignity

When the canal first made it to Birmingham, the people rang the church bells as they foresaw the wealth that would follow. And Birmingham soon had more canals than any other British town, a network of loops, locks, wharves, branches

Posted in Cruising log, History and traditions, Routes

Bridges on the Stratford canal

Sometimes, the canal’s builders didn’t have room for a proper brick arch. Or perhaps the vehicles using it couldn’t handle the steep gradient of a hump backed bridge. So they built drawbridges! Here’s two from today. Clever use of hydraulics

Posted in Boat Handling, Cruising log, History and traditions, Routes
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