Wednesday 11 September 2013

Canal boats on the River Dee cont.

Hi all,
I reported the other day about the possibility of navigating the Dee branch Locks and onto the River Dee.

I've been researching this and emailed the Chester council on the subject and it looks like such a possible passage is unlikely for some time.  I did receive this internal email back from the council forwarded on to me.

Subject: Re: FW: River Dee cruise by Narrowboat

Good afternoon,
I think that sadly this will not be possible, Ian is correct in so far as the Dee branch lock were removed about 5 years ago and C&RT do not seem to have any plans to repair them, it might be worth the boater speaking to the C&RT waterway manager at Northwich.
Should the lock gates be re fitted then it would be possible but with great care, narrow boats have often been stuck on the weir when the tide does not quite act as predicted, also an inexperienced crew could easily panic in the fast moving water.
I would be happy to advise should this become a possibility.
I hope this helps.

I have omitted address etc from this email to protect the senders rights etc. I will certainly be contacting the Manager of the Northwich C&RT for more information.

After a bit more research I came across a Chester
Heritage trust (Click here) vision for the waterways report. It paints a not so pretty picture of the state of the Dee Branch as the Tuesday Club blog did. The report shows photos of the current state of the locks, which are in a sorry state to say the least and in describes the poor condition of them. Very depressing.

Interestingly the report quotes "A canal boat on the Dee – brought by road this simple fact underlines how Chester is failing to make the most of its fascinating waterway system" and I have to say I agree with the statement.

All this said there is still a glimmer of hope, the locks may some day be restored to their former glory. The local IWA volunteers have a working party on 21st September to tidy up the area around the locks and some dredging may take place whilst the dredger is working in the Tower wharf area. I have offered to help so will post some photos of the day.

In addition, working together, the council, IWA and C&RT are looking at ways to raise funds to restore the locks back into working order and a paper has been put together with a proposal, nothing new as it has been proposed before, but now its more likely to be looked at with the resurgence in water sports and activities in general. Whether this actually comes to fruition will remain to be seen.

At the moment is is just possible, on a high tide, to traverse the bottom lock stop planks onto the river but such passage should not be undertaken lightly at present.

So for now Chester is loosing out on a huge potential to rejuvenate the town's visits by joining up its unique waterways together, the lower tidal Dee, the upper non tidal Dee and the Shropshire Canal running through the town. Shame on you Chester Council and C&RT.

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