There are over 100,000 boats registered on the inland waterways of England, Scotland and Wales, and in 2016 more than 672,000 people enjoyed the pastime of inland boating. IWA’s aim is to see those boats and people spread out across all of our wonderful canals and rivers. Most parts of our waterways are vibrant, busy places enjoyed by millions of people every year but there are still many locations where you would be lucky to see even one boat in a week, let alone in a day. Gongoozling is a favoured pastime of many walkers and cyclists, but if there are no boats, whole sections of waterways will lose their charm and appeal for everyone. This challenge aims to encourage our members and others to visit and use those places that aren’t reached as often as others.
The great thing about the Silver Propeller Challenge is that you get to choose where you want to go from our list of urban and rural locations across the country. Traverse the wild moors of the Pennines at the summit of the Huddersfield and Rochdale canals or venture into the great cities of Liverpool, Norwich and Sheffield. You can also visit the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain at Standedge, or acquaint yourself with the current terminus of the northern-most canal in England. Perhaps you would prefer to cruise through the picturesque Welsh Marches or visit one of the largest operating windmills in England? In accepting our challenge you can do all these and more. Accessing these waterways is a great way for boaters, canoeists, rowers and paddleboarders to explore some of the UK’s finest scenery and far-flung locations. And we would be delighted if the challenge led to more people hiring boats for their holidays this year.
One of IWA’s stated objectives for 2018 encompasses the improvement of facilities for waterway users across the network. We hope that the Silver Propeller Challenge, in encouraging usage of underused waterways, will help us to obtain the fullest picture of the issues across the whole country. We are looking for insight into the current gaps in provision between waterway areas or navigation authorities, where previous facilities have been taken out of use and not replaced, where broken equipment has not been repaired, or any other issues concerning boaters’ facilities which participants feel may be relevant. Email our campaigns officer, Alison Smedley, with your feedback on facilities – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Furthermore, while none of the ‘cruise it or lose it’ waterways are under threat at the moment, we would be hard pressed to defend them on usage grounds if they were to be threatened by a major development, such as a new motorway.
We’d love to hear from you while you’re on the way to meeting the challenge. You can post your pictures to our UK waterways Flickr group, or tag your images on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with #silverpropeller.
Read our series of articles about Silver Propeller locations.