expert Sue Day answers your questions
a time before trains and motor vehicles when horse power meant literally just
How did our forefathers manage to move massive loads of freight from
one town to another?
And how is the pursuit of horseboating being revived
We meet Sue Day from the Horseboating Society who is championing
the revival of horseboating as a leisure pursuit.
you think that the recent news from Defra will have an impact on your horseboating?
PS. Congrats to you, Tony & the team for a great trip!!
The cuts in funding to the navigation authorities by Defra could mean disastrous
cancellation of planned maintenance programmes.
If the waterway system
cannot be kept up to its present navigation standards, then there is a potential
threat that some canals may have to be closed.
Unlike the road system, if
a canal is closed, there may be no diversion route or it could involve an extremely
Lack of cutting back of vegetation on the towing paths might
allow saplings to grow again.
This had been a previous problem we do not
wish to encounter again.
Trees between the path and the water prevent use
of the towline.
You can find out more about the funding cutbacks and what
you can do to help by visiting these websites:
do I get involved in horseboating
where do I start?
I would recommend that you join the Horseboating Society, which offers training
and many opportunities to go horseboating with various horseboats in many locations.
Saturn Project offers horseboating with their boat Saturn and the Boat Museum
Society horseboats with their boat Gifford.
Details of all these activities
can be found through the Horseboating Society website's Events list called "Towlines"
or on the individual societies' websites:
horseboating an expensive hobby? Any tips on doing it on a budget? David, Wirral
Yes, it's a very expensive hobby to do it in your own right, but by joining an
existing society which operates a horse boat, you can join in very cheaply.
charge only for an annual subscription of around £10.
old Canal Street with horseboat|
You are not allowed to operate
a horse-drawn boat without permission from the navigation authority, such as British
Waterways or the Environment Agency.
The costs involved are numerous, including
365 days a year care of the boat horse and licensing and mooring fees for the
boat, plus its maintenance costs.
An unexpected cost is our use of horse
transport to sometimes remove the horse from city centres at night time for safer
How do you cope with towpaths full of anglers in the fishing
season? Vince Chadwick
Most of our horseboating happens on weekdays when there are few angling competitions
We aim to keep good relations with anglers and pass our line
over them when they are ready.
Many choose to stand at the back of the towpath
with their rods while our line passes over only their equipment.
the best horseboating experience you've ever had?
I'd rather describe several wonderful experiences.
In the year 2000, Bonny
took horseboat Maria from Manchester via Birmingham to London.
It was fantastic
to arrive in our capital having walked all the way as a team - Bonny, Jet my dog,
This year the Horseboating Society legged through Standedge
Tunnel, which is Britain's longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel.
is three and a quarter miles long and was an exciting experience.
we have been re-creating living heritage of the past.
We loaded a horseboat
with nearly 20 tons of limestone at Bugsworth Basin and Queenie pulled the boat
for 16 miles and through 16 locks over two days.
This was a trade the boat
that had been engaged in from 1854 to c 1904.
We have had some very interesting
"guests of honour" join us, such as Terry Waite, Fred Dibnah and David
Recently we have been involved with a horse-drawn
boat "protest cruise" against the funding cuts imposed on navigation
authorities by Defra.
We were thrilled to be supported by British Waterway's
Chief Executive Robin Evans and MP David Heyes.
How easy is it to go
horseboating in other parts of the country - do you need any special permissions
Donna Muir, Ormskirk
You cannot operate a horse-drawn boat without the permission of the local navigation
There are a few opportunities to ride for one to three hours
on commercial horse-drawn passenger boats.
Many of these operators are offering
horsedrawn trips for passengers during the Summer months (usually Easter to October).
telephone or check operators' web sites for details, times and prices:
Foxton Boat Services Ltd, Bottom Lock, Foxton, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Godalming Packet Boat Company, 57 Furze Lane, Godalming, Surrey
Western Horseboat Company, Canal Hill, Tiverton, Devon
- Kennet Horseboat
Company, 2 Rectory Cottage, Church Hill, Wickham, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8HD,
Welsh Canal Holiday Craft Ltd, Llangollen Wharf, Llangollen, Denbighshire
this summer, a new venture was set up. Bywater Holiday Cruises offer two-day horse-drawn
cruises on the Montgomery Canal.
you need to buy your own horse to go horseboating?
Ann in Preston
No, you do not need to buy your own horse to go horseboating.
The way to
get involved is to have a ride on a horsedrawn passenger boat or, if you would
like to be a crew member, join an existing society which operates a horse boat.
cannot hire a boat suitable to be pulled by your own horse.
Horses do not
pull motor boats any more than would pull a motor car.
Horseboats are comparatively
few and have no engine. They are in preservation and not available for hire.
a horse and towline requires considerable previous training and experience.
the horse must be carefully trained to this line of work, involving working amongst
the public and travelling over aqueducts and through tunnels.
a problem for horse boaters? And are there any other hazards out there which you
have to watch out for?
We rarely meet motor bikes on towpaths. When we do meet them, they usually give
way to the unusual sight and size of the boat horse.
Motor bike barriers
are, however, a huge problem for us.
Before undertaking a journey we have
to enquire about the location of such barriers.
We need to know if they
are fixed chicanes which cannot be opened. In such a case the horse and driver
will be forced to make a detour, which might involve danger on busy roads.
if the barrier has a gate, arrangements must be made for us to have an appropriate
What are your plans for the future? Any big trips on the horizon?
is going to be brought to the attention of the World Canals Conference which is
being held in England at Liverpool next year.
We aim to take a horse-drawn
boat to the conference along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. This will be new horseboating
Plans for the future: educational work with all ages, interpretation
of the built heritage of the inland waterway system, more journeys and fun!
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