Welcome back to the waterways!

By Kevin Yarwood, manager of Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood narrowboat hire base

It’s been a long hard winter for everyone, but we are looking forward to welcoming canal boat holiday-makers back to the waterways this Spring.

Lockdown and restrictions have been very strange at times, and challenging. It feels almost like a weird dream that we have not yet woken up from. However, it has been a time we have appreciated family, nature and what we have.

Living on the boat at Great Haywood, my family and I were almost in our own bubble, so it often didn’t feel real. Coronavirus wasn’t on our doorstep as it was for so many others. We have our home and our garden, and that is a blessing, especially as the weather was so good during the first lockdown, and we had things to do to keep us occupied.

Nature seemed confused at times

The canals have been quiet during the lockdown as boat movements are restricted. Last spring this made the water almost crystal clear, and it seemed that fish and other wildlife were thriving. We had a carp regularly visiting our side hatch to feed. It was about three foot long, the biggest I’ve seen.

Nature seemed confused at times. We would sit out in the garden and have the pheasants, ducks, birds and squirrels roaming around us. They seemed to get used to us being there all the time.

Looking ahead to the new season

Thankfully, the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown gives permission for our holidays to resume on 12 April.

Initially our boats will be for single households only, but from 17 May the rule of six or two households will hopefully apply indoors. Then from 21 June, it’s hoped there won’t be any more social distancing restrictions in place.

In the meantime, Spring is beginning again here at Great Haywood, with beautiful Spring flowers – snow drops, daffodils and crocuses. And buds appearing on the trees and hedgerows. The pair of swans that live here have started to build their nest ready for their next brood. Last year they had eight cygnets, but sadly none of them made it to full adulthood. I hope they have more luck this year.

I think everyone enjoys being close to nature and wildlife, and every day we become more aware of the importance of biodiversity to our own health and wellbeing.

Our narrowboat holidays offer people the chance to explore the countryside, with the feeling that nature is all around them. You can moor up in a remote spot and enjoy listening the birds, seeing sheep and cows in nearby fields, and watching ducks, moorhens and swans swimming by at the same level as you.

Four ways to make your narrowboat holiday greener

Here at Great Haywood, we are keen to encourage our narrowboat holiday-makers to make their break as environmentally friendly as possible:

• We use aqua-friendly Poddy cleaning products to help reduce the amount of harmful chemicals entering our waterways. These are also for sale in our boat yard shop;
• We encourage our holiday-makers to take part in the Canal & River Trust’s #PlasticsChallenge, which asks everyone to pick up a piece of litter each time they visit a waterway;
• We offer recycling facilities at our boat yard, and we recommend that everyone brings their own shopping bags, hot drink cups and water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic they use on their holiday; and
• Some of our boats have multi-fuel stoves on board, so we provide logs made from recycled sawdust, rather than coal.

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