In a bid to encourage access to the farthest of waterways, the IWA has set up the Silver Propeller Challenge.
“Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to visit as many of the nation’s underused waterways as you can. Why? You’ll not only get to visit some stunning, yet quieter, parts of the network, but you’ll also be in with a chance of receiving IWA’s new Silver Propeller Challenge plaque.”
All you need to do is visit twenty places from their list, take a photograph of you and your water craft at each location and submit once you’re done. Anyone who completes the challenge – with photos from 1st January 2018 onwards – will win a Silver Propeller Challenge plaque for their vessel.
There are all sorts of people taking on the challenge.
Charting their journey in Waterways Magazine are Polly and Hope, the Windlasses, a couple from Bristol on the Sue Perb. They set off on the 1st December 2018 and have been cruising ever since. Their blog and Instagram documents their adventures with canalside pubs, meeting up with old friends and painting pebbles to record each point on their journey (they’re up to 14 now!).
Polly has always been around watercraft; her dad was a boat builder. The Sue Perb is built from epoxy foam sandwich and was a custom build. They previously worked in broadcasting and design, and now manage to live on around £350 a month.
Jo and Michael of the Minimal List are also taking part in the challenge, as part of their quest to explore the whole canal network. They’re cruising aboard the Perseverance, with their dog George and vlog about their experiences on social media.
Ideally, anyone can! Waterways Magazine recently highlighted that even non boat owners can complete the challenge. 20 of the locations can be reached by trip or day boat. You may need to complete the challenge seasonally, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You’ll also be supporting local business, or a local restoration society, by taking the trip.
There are 7 locations accessible by day trippers in the East of England alone.
The Silver Propeller Challenge was created to direct keen boaters to some of the more obscure part of the network. An initial list of 40 locations across the country indicate waterways that could be at risk due to insufficient use. Or are at the limits of existing navigations. Or, there are places on restored lengths of the canals that deserve more use.
Gongoozlers (people who like watching and walking by canals) may wander by the rivers, but if there are no boats, whole sections of waterways will lose their charm and appeal for everyone. There is huge scope within the challenge – you can cruise through the charming Northern city of Lancaster, explore the Welsh Moors, or moor up in bustling urban centres like Liverpool.
Plus it’s fun; think of it as the narrowboat equivalent of geocaching or treasure hunting!
As well as encouraging people to explore the waterways of Britain, the challenge has highlighted issues that need to be fixed. For example, a rockfall near Skipton Castle, and some dredging issues.
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