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.
Boaters are asked 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. The survey also asks for suggestions for new winding hole locations.
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, which IWA will take up with navigation authorities both locally through its branch committees as well as nationally.