Every year millions of us enjoy our natural waterway heritage. From canoeing to angling to swimming to walking along the towpaths ... the waterways are enjoyed by ever increasing numbers.
The waterways in Britain contrast greatly, ranging from remote fenland rivers in East Anglia to the grandeur of the River Thames. Most of the waterways are steeped in history and winding their way through some of the most beautiful countryside. All of the rivers and waterways have the potential to provide enjoyment for all.
All along our waterways there are thousands upon thousands of things to see ranging from museums, to wildlife and natural geographical features. It is just a question of getting out there to find it.
Many public footpaths go along the side of rivers and like the tow paths a peaceful and refreshing day can be had by walking next to water. There are maps that have been drawn up showing routes you might like to walk.
Along our waterways you can take a peaceful riverside walk, watch boats travelling through a lock, take a boat trip or even go fishing. You could blow away your stresses and cares with some canoeing, rowing and boating. Sit peacefully or gently float by and watch the huge variety of animals and other wild life in their natural habitats.
The Environment Agency has quoted figures of 30 million people who recreate near or on water a year …. But with the very limited access we all have to the waterways the true figure, if access was to be open up, to and along the waterways could actually be much greater … with a much healthier population as a result!!!
Some of these might help you get out and about but do check to see whether you need a licence to cycle on the routes you intend...
Here are some links that might help;-
The Rambler's -
A lot of the regional tourists boards also have their own maps and it is worth having a search on the internet for more suggestions.
Participation in canoeing is on the rise again, according to the 2011 RYA Watersports & Leisure Participation Survey. Read the Summary Report at: http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/news/participation-in-canoeing-on-the-rise-again
Go Canoeing is a new national campaign supported by Canoe England, to encourage and inspire more people to go canoeing more regularly. Go Canoeing can help inspire to get on the water and it has a range of captivating and inspiring opportunities and resources aimed at adults and the family leisure market. These include local starter sessions, guided tours and events, as well as information on where to go and how to get started.
"Go Canoeing” Products
Starter Sessions – Led by Canoe England clubs and centres, these sessions will provide a good introduction to canoeing in a fun, social environment with the opportunity of a follow up experience.
Guided Tours – Led by specifically trained Go Canoeing Leaders, the aim of the tour is to provide a fun and social experience in a safe environment. There are two types of tour to suit different customer needs, ability and interests.
National Events – Mass participation, social events, providing inspiration, fun, challenge, information and retail opportunities.
Trails – Information on recommended canoeing routes that people can access and enjoy.
Go Canoeing website will go live in April 2012 www.gocanoeing.org.uk
There are a myriad of activities that take place on the water and with some 41,000 miles (68.310 kilometres) of rivers in England and Wales there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy our natural heritage. Whether one chooses to use powered or unpowered craft there truly is a beautiful world to be uncovered when you are out on the water.
As the saying goes "there is nothing quite like messing about on the river" … it still holds true today.
Links to other Water Sports Groups
The access situation is not a canoeing v fishing issue. Many people fish from canoe/kayaks in this country on rivers as well as the sea and they too want greater access.
All over the world the fishing happily coexists with canoeing and many other watersports.
For example in Scotland
Not only do the two happily coexist Scottish Natural Heritage/Sport Scotland has produced leaflets called A Shared Resource.. showing how the sports can work together.www.snh.org.uk
There are very significant angling interests in Scotland which do not appear to have been harmed by opening up access, with an agreed Code of Practice in place. The situation in Scotland was exactly similar to England and Wales before the Act, other than fishing not being allowed on Sundays.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 establishes a statutory right of responsible access to land and inland waters for:
outdoor recreation, crossing land, and some educational and commercial purposes.
Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code gives detailed guidance on your responsibilities when exercising access rights and if you are managing land and water.
Can fishing and other water sport activities undertake their activities in harmony?
We believe it can. Fishing and other water sport users are able to use the rivers and lakes in harmony all over the world so why not in England and Wales? Scotland has a long history of the waters being shared by all. The recent (2003) Land Reform Act in Scotland provides an ideal model for how England and Wales could progress in this area of access.
Does canoeing disturb fish/fish stocks?
Effects of Canoeing on Fish Stocks and Angling – Research and Development Technical Report W266
The research undertaken by the Environment Agency on behalf of the Angling and Canoeing liaison Group – a group established to encourage communication between angling and canoeing communities – involved consultation with both canoeist and anglers along with independent opinion from a panel of 10 experts.
The research found that there is no empirical evidence linking canoeing with damage of spawning grounds and stocks.
DEFRA now states
"Whilst all water-based activities can have a direct impact on the environment, research undertaken on behalf of the Environment Agency found that over all canoeing is not harmful to fish populations….” "The BCU’s Access strategy makes very clear that paddlers should undertake their sport in ways which do not have an adverse environmental impact”
Suggestions of aggression..
If you trawl many of the fishing websites you will find suggestions of aggression towards canoeists… from throwing stones/bricks/ to actually hanging wire at neck height across rivers. Wire has been found on several rivers in the past. This is not only outrageous and against the law but it puts the fishing fraternity in to a very bad light. Come on advocating violence is not a way forward.
Canoe England meets with and talks to a huge variety of people about access to rivers on a very regular basis .. this includes the fishing fraternity. In the 21st Century the rivers should not be a battle ground but we should All be able to enjoy our natural heritage and the very fabric of our countryside.
More information on Fishing..
If you use any search engine their findings will direct you to the numerous websites in this country and around the world as to what fishing is and where fishing can be undertaken.
For rod licences contact the Environment Agency
Any angler aged 12 years or over, fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels in England (except the River Tweed), Wales or the Border Esk and its tributaries in Scotland must have an Environment Agency rod licence.
Kayak fishing is fishing from a kayak or from a canoe. Both types of craft can be used as platforms to fish from, although the vast majority of kayak fishing takes place from the latest generation of purpose built sit on top fishing kayaks. The kayak has long been a means of transportation and a means of accessing fishing grounds and none more so than today
Many of the techniques used in kayak fishing are essentially the same as those used on general other fishing boats fishing, however the handling of a kayak/canoe requires various different skills especially while actually fishing and landing a catch.
Kayaking Fishing in sheltered waters is a great way to gain experience but it’s easy to underestimate the potential hazards. Ideal locations are canals and slow moving rivers (be aware of weirs).
When you are kayak fishing you need to have the appropriate licenses not only for your canoe/kayak but to fish as well.
Improving your kayaking skills
The kayak/canoe is an environmentally friendly craft leaving no trace of its passing. Thus it is an ideal craft from which to fish. They have long been a means of transportation and a means of accessing fishing spots and none more so than today. Canoe and Kayak fishing has gained popularity as the Sit on Top (SOT) kayak has been developed. Indeed many fishermen keen to widen their fishing grounds have bought a kayak and found that they get hooked on the kayaking.
Membership of Canoe England and its associated federal bodies can provide significant benefits for people taking part in Canoe and Kayak fishing and gives access to an extensive network of qualified coaches, affiliated clubs and centres.
Please see (www.canoe-england.org.uk for more information and the course that is suitable for you!
Kayak Fishing Safety
Canoeing and Kayaking in sheltered waters e.g. small lakes, canals, slow moving rivers (be aware of weirs) and sheltered harbours where there is little chance of being blown out to sea, is a great way to gain experience but it’s easy to underestimate the potential hazards.
To ensure you, your family and friends stay safe while enjoying your paddling experience here are some basic top tips and equipment recommendations.
- undertake suitable training in how to use all of your equipment.
- learn and practise techniques to get back onboard your kayak should you capsize.
- ensure you are a confident swimmer and can swim a minimum of 50m in the sea.
- ensure your kayak and equipment are well maintained and ready for the water.
- check your craft has integral buoyancy fitted, the hatches and drain plugs are secure and watertight, paddle is in good condition, seat is firmly attached , and all gear secured safely.
- wear a suitable approved buoyancy aid/personal flotation device (PFD).
- ensure your PFD fits correctly and all the straps are done up securely and use crotch straps if fitted.
- wear suitable clothing for the season and conditions, such as a suitable wetsuit/drysuit and layered clothing; wear a hat and gloves in cold conditions.
- on a sit-on-top kayak the paddle should be leashed to your kayak.
- take a drink and snack with you (energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate).
- Please take home all unwanted tackle and rubbish and dispose of appropriately.
Don’t forget to read the Environment section and the You Your Canoe and the environmental advice.