Before looking at new sites I note that the IWA Ipswich Branch now has a much more logical and manageable URL of www.ipswich-iwa.co.uk. I am glad to see that many more websites have domain names these days, which not only means you get a better name but also make it easy to switch your internet service provider (ISP) without changing your web address - provided you registered the domain rather than having it provided by your ISP.
This is another month with a good variety of newly found sites starting with All European Waterways www.waterways.cc a website for European inland waterways tourism with coverage of 14 countries in three languages, including good coverage of UK waterways. UKCanal.com www.ukcanal.co.uk is a computer specialist and internet service provider now supplying Broadband Internet access, telephone communication and CCTV Security for canal boats. The History of the Kennet and Avon Canal www.katrust.org/heritage_index.htm has sections on Planning the Canal, Building the Canal, Working the Canal and the Decline of the Canal giving an insight into its 200-year history. Another historical site is Staffordshire Past Track www.staffspasttrack.org.uk which contains over a hundred historic canal photographs of places in Staffordshire amongst a much larger general collection. From the home page follow the route - Theme Explorer - Transport & Communications - Canals to find the canal pictures and text.
If you are interested in swapping boats as a means of seeing more remote waterways Exchange Your Boat www.boatswitch.com may be able to help. This is another site with pages in three languages. More cruising opportunities can be found with Hotelboat Periwinkle www.hotelboatperiwinkle.com a 60 foot long hotel narrowboat which was built in 2003. Their 2004 schedule covers most of the northern waterways. Pages called Marine Cruises and Chirk Marina www.chirkmarina.co.uk have information on the private hire fleet run from Chirk Marina with a range of boats from 2 berth to 10 berth. The Lee Valley Boat Centre www.leevalleyboats.co.uk offer day boats and short breaks or weekly holidays aboard 2 to 12 berth narrow and wide beam boats from their base in North East London.
The Waterways Craft Guild www.canaljunction.co.uk/guild encourage, set and maintain high standards of knowledge and practice in the traditional skills of the waterways from the days of commercial carrying. Their site has a useful directory of members. The Northern Reaches Restoration Group www.thenorthernreaches.co.uk is a group of nine organisations with an ambitious multi-million pound scheme to re-open the most northerly 14 miles of the Lancaster Canal to Kendal. Also in the same area are The Millennium Ribble Link www.millenniumribblelink.co.uk, the official BW site with passage and booking information plus skippers and users guides, and The Lancaster Canal www.lancaster-canal.co.uk, which is the official BW Lancaster Canal site with information, including an events guide, for all canal users. We conclude with The Aire Valley Towpath Route www.airevalleytowpath.org.uk about the 22 km length of towpath on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Leeds and Saltaire which is suitable for all towpath users.
Site of the Month
I first mentioned Greg Chapman's Waterways Guides www.waterwaysguides.co.uk in my article Surfing the Cut in WW April 2000, then it was called Nicholson OS Guides Updates and had a different URL. Since then the site has developed and expanded and now covers all canal guides Nicholson, Pearson, Imray, First Mate and locally produced guides. The site started at the end of 1998, in response to messages in the uk.rec.waterways newsgroup about errors in the updated Nicolson's guides, with the idea of listing all known errors and omissions in one place. This is still the purpose of the website with people sending in their comments which are posted on the appropriate waterway pages in the Updates section of the site. The Reviews section of the site lists all locally produced guides with brief details of each guide plus a link to a full review. There is also a very good on-line guide to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal that was produced to plug the gap in the guidebook market that occurred when the canal was first reopened. Another section of the site is the unofficial website of the Middle Level Commissioners. Having taken a close look at Greg's site I realise I should have been making a lot more use of it, for example, when someone asked me if they could take a 13 foot beam boat down the Kennet & Avon I was unable to give a definite answer, but this site has a whole page on "Kennet and Avon Canal Dimensions". If you have found an error in your guidebook don't keep it to yourself, use this excellent website.
If you would like to suggest a favourite web site which you think WW
readers should know about please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.