I am at Appley Bridge, a suburb of Wigan on the east Lancashire border. There have been signs put up about the limited use of the canal towpath close to me. They have had little effect on towpath footfall as, in my estimation, there is a three- to four-fold increase in its use. A policeman walked along the towpath last Sunday afternoon, but nobody was challenged about their presence on the canal. I have moved to a more secluded spot and I am now getting almost no people coming near the boat. There have been six boats that have passed me, but their direction of travel is possibly to return to their home moorings. I have had three emails from CRT, asking about my position and what services I need to be open. A CRT volunteer has called three times to see how I am. The local community has offered to help with a free electric hook-up and several local people have offered to shop for me (I must be getting old!), and Iā€™m told that, if I need assistance, I should just ask.

Ken Hylins


David Fletcher adds: Following a wet February, both March and April have been very dry, particularly in the north. Due to this and some lower levels in reservoirs post-Toddbrook, the Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Huddersfield and Leeds & Liverpool canals are closed for the foreseeable future. The aim is to save water so that, when the system is reopened, we have some water to play with. There has been some comment on social media about a blockage on the feeder to the Peak Forest from Coombes Reservoir. I understand that, although there is a blockage, this is not the only problem and it could take some time to get this flow going again.  The stoppages mean that the coal boats cannot pass and support those liveaboards on these waters.


With many boaters safely self-isolating, there is little movement on the canals. It was reported that there were scores of dead fish spotted in the Kennet & Avon in Devizes. The EA said the coronavirus lockdown has resulted in a drop in traffic and activity on the canal, and this has created a series of stagnant pools between locks ā€“ resulting in the fish suffocating through a lack of oxygen. However, a local fish expert (also a medical professional) commented that there had probably been a toxic leak as the distribution is quite localised. Also, the fish involved are stillwater animals and could cope. A local boater said there had been a large diesel spillage in the area, which may have led to the deaths.

There have been reports that, on the K&A, there have been some unfortunate conflicts where liveaboard boaters, who are understandably very unhappy with the folks cycling or running along the towpaths, have taken matters into their own hands. However, there are a significant number of people who have almost no alternative but to use the towpath to get to work - including some working in Bath hospitals and care homes ā€“ perhaps a case of a small minority of thoughtless people spoiling things for the majority?

Mike Rodd