An illustrated guide to Britain’s best waterways.
Reviewer: Robert Davies
WE ARE all familiar with Nicholson’s cruising guides which have been with us since the mid-1980s. This is their latest offering, published by HarperCollins. This book was originally launched in 2010 as The Times Waterways of Britain and is now republished as a paperback edition.
Waterways of Britain: An illustrated guide to Britain’s best waterways is written by Jonathan Mosse and inspired by his experiences of canals when, some 30 years ago, he needed to inject a Personal Development Skills programme into a course for students of land-based industries – agriculture, horticulture, forestry and gamekeeping. He hit upon the idea of hiring 20 x 12-berth canal boats to convey a motley crew of teenagers around the system. They emerged from the experience more rounded people, aware of the beauty of the countryside and the tremendous feats of engineering that had made their trip possible.
This book outlines many of the ‘sights and sounds’ of the waterways that they discovered. It is not an exhaustive guide but includes many of the navigations which represent the rich diversity of our canal and river system. The selected canals, 22 in total, are grouped by region – the Midlands, South, North West and the North East of England with Wales and Scotland also included.
There are chapters on the flora and fauna to be found around the system detailing birds, insects, mammals and plants. The different waterways in the book are interspersed with 25 ‘mileposts’. Each milepost reveals a significant waterway development about people, places and events that have impacted on the canals and rivers that we enjoy today. James Brindley, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the Cromford Canal, Inland Waterways Association and the Rochdale Canal and Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Restoration Projects are just some of the featured mileposts.
Each section introduces us to the region’s historical background and the way in which it contributed to the development of the canal system. The individual selected canals are detailed by birth, background, the navigation and points of interest. A ‘locational’ map of the canal showing the wider area that it crosses is included and we are also provided with information as to who was involved in building the canal, dates of construction and statistics detailing length, lock size etc. It is nicely illustrated with photographs of waterway scenes and architecture.
Spread over 300 glossy pages, this landscape format book in many ways complements the Nicholson cruising guides and will be of interest to all canal users – walkers, historians, boaters et al.
Realistically priced at £16.99, Waterways of Britain: An illustrated guide to Britain’s best waterways is available from www.harpercollins.co.uk and retail outlets such as Amazon, Waterstones and W H Smith.