IWA & HNBC Launch Winding Hole Survey

IWA & HNBC Launch Winding Hole Survey

17 June 2014

IWA and the Historic Narrow Boat Club (HNBC) have launched a joint project to gather information about winding holes on the inland waterways. 

Winding holes, otherwise known as 'swinging areas' on rivers and commercial navigations, are purpose built widenings in a waterway to allow boats to turn in order to change direction of travel along the waterway. 

In the original canal era, winding holes evolved at places where working boats needed to turn (other than at canal junctions and arm entrances), usually in the vicinity of factories or wharves. Now, in the 'leisure' canal era, traffic flows - in both pattern and total volume - bear little or no resemblance to the more predictable flows for which the original winding holes were created and located.

The project asks boaters to report, via a survey, on winding holes in the areas they know, or have boated recently, in order to identify where winding holes have been lost (or the size of boat that can use them has been reduced) as a result of siltation, overhanging vegetation, prohibiting notices or chains, or permanently moored boats. It also asks for suggestions for new winding hole locations. 

The joint initiative came about because both organisations had started to look at issues relating to winding holes around the same time. IWA’s initial concern was centred around a number of locations where winding had previously been allowed, but where signs or chains had been put up preventing boats from turning. HNBC’s concern was loss of traditional winding holes following instances of them being given over to long term moorings.

The information gathered through the results of this survey will allow a greater understanding of the geographical spread of any problems relating to winding holes, and will enable both organisations to lobby navigation authorities about these issues. 

Click here for a  link to the survey, the survey closes on Friday 14th November.

Photo: Winding hole above Flint Mill Lock at Consall on the Caldon Canal by Alison Smedley

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