100 Boats Cruise to St Neots for IWA Festival of Water29 August 2018
Thousands of people flocked to Regatta Meadow in St Neots over the August Bank Holiday weekend to enjoy the spectacular IWA Festival of Water, our annual event that this year came to the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire.
A total of 100 boats took part in the event, with some having travelled from the furthest reaches of the connected waterways, via the River Nene and the Middle Level Navigations, to join boats based on the Great Ouse for the festival.
The Sunday evening procession of illuminated boats was followed by an impressive firework display contributed by St Neots Town Council, who gave their wholehearted support for this Festival.
As well as the colourful display of boats, attractions at the three-day event included boat trips on board the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust's John Bunyan trip boat, the chance to have a go at canoeing and stand up paddle boarding, live music, craft stalls, classic cars, children's rides and the chance to drive a digger under the guidance of restoration experts from IWA's Waterway Recovery Group.
Jane Elwell, Chairman of IWA's Events Team, said: "We chose St Neots for the 2018 IWA Festival of Water because waterways in the Anglian Region are a focal point for a number of IWA's current campaigns. Two new waterways to boost the region are planned, whilst a number of navigable waterways in the Anglian Region are under threat."
IWA is campaigning for increased funding from Government for the waterways managed by the Environment Agency, including the Great Ouse, which have been starved of funding for a number of years.
The proposed new Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Park would provide a new 16 mile link from the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse in Bedford. As well as creating regeneration opportunities for local communities along its route, it would also provide a strategic connection to the waterways of East Anglia.
Another brand new waterway linking the River Witham in Boston to the River Nene in Peterborough was launched at the event, as the northern part of the original Fens Waterways Link. The Boston to Peterborough Wetland Corridor project is being reinvented to overcome funding and logistical issues and IWA is working with EA and Lincolnshire County Council to drive the project forward. The link would open up a new cruising, cycling and pedestrian route, a wetland corridor and bring welcome economic regeneration to areas along the route.
IWA FESTIVAL OF WATER AWARDS
Congratulations to all of our event award winners.
THE RCR CRUISING CHALLENGE
Roger and Lynne Mellors. Covered 889 lock miles, including crossing The Wash, and visited four Silver Propeller Challenge locations. Also, saved the life of a boater who they found on his boat in a diabetic coma.
MOST MERITORIOUS TRIP
Paul and Janine Strudwick. Covered 519 lock miles, visiting IWA Canalway Cavalcade, Ricky Festival and IWA Festival of Waterin St Neots.
BOAT CLUB CHALLENGE
Roger Mungham, Middle Level Waterman's Club, 14 boats out of 28 members.
LIGHTS IN THE DARK
nb Phoenix, John & Jill Kitchener
2nd place Brown Trout
3rd place Rhiannon KGV
BEST WORKING BOAT
LOCKING WINDLASS MOST LOCKS WORKED
Paul and Janine Strudwick, 207 locks.
CHILDRENS COLOURING COMPETITION
5 to 10 Years
1st place - Emmy Lou Reading aged 5
Runner up - Charlie Moorse aged 8
11 to 16 Years
Alyssa Miles and Ruby Moorse
Next year IWA Festival of Water will take place at Lee Valley Park, Waltham Abbey on the Lee Navigation.
Photo: View of the boats by Tim Lewis