Illustrated talks and a canalside walk with Roger Butler.
This unusual and intriguing Discovery Day, based in Bude, will explore some of the West Country’s unique canals and will include an afternoon visit/walk to parts of the Bude Canal.
This was an extraordinary undertaking, extending over 35 miles inland towards Launceston in one direction, and Holsworthy in another. Huge inclined planes (rather than locks) were constructed, with winches to haul its (wheeled!) boats to the canal’s higher levels. The derelict Liskeard & Looe Union Canal remains little known, but it was once a vital link, carrying Bodmin Moor granite and minerals to the coast from Moorswater. And the St Columb Canal near Newquay climbed straight up the cliffs from a sandy beach. (‘How?’ you might ask … join us and find out!) There were other remarkable canals too – at Bideford, Newton Abbot and Chard, for instance – and all were built with remarkable and ingenious engineering.
Two in-depth talks will place these long-lost canals in their national context and show how they developed in splendid isolation from the UK’s main waterway network. The illustrated talks will describe and examine some of their special history and unusual features, and there will also be an opportunity to look at some examples of the colourful folk art associated with our canals. After lunch we shall explore parts of the Bude Canal, with visits to interesting landmarks as well as a towpath walk. We’ve just learnt that there are to be maintenance works on the canal this spring, so we may be restricted as to the features of interest we can visit, but we hope to see one or more of these: the restored locks east of the town, the Marhamchurch inclined plane and Virworthy Wharf near the Tamar Lakes. The towpath between Bude and Marhamchurch is now well surfaced as an accessible walkway. NB Stout shoes are recommended because if time allows we may visit another section of the path.
The day will end around 4 pm.