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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2013
16 | www.probussouthpacific.org TRAVEL CRUISING Floating through England The UK's canal network was established to transport coal and pottery between the industrial centres of the north and midlands, and its legacy is a leisure cruising option that's a wonderful way to see the heart of England. By Alison Plummer Did you know? The UK's colourful 'narrow boats' are so-called because they are designed for locks of just 2.1 metres wide. There's understandable confusion between barges and narrow boats as they are similar in design, but the latter are built to fit the narrow locks, while the wider cargo barges simply don't fit. 'Narrow boat' is the traditional term, although 'narrowboat' is also used. Never call them longboats; the Vikings arrived in those! Originally horses towed the boats from towpaths, moving fifty times the cargo they could on land. Cruising narrow boats are built along the lines of the original working boats, and decoration is a key element. Roses and castles were the choice in the 19th century, and today you can buy souvenirs and check out new designs, including trompe l'oeil and graffiti. Boats can't climb hills, so locks are used to control water levels to lift or lower boats, and are usually operated by the cruiser. Locks have a set of gates at each end and a chamber in the middle to lift and lower your boat as the water level rises or falls. You open and close the paddles and the gates open when the water level is equal on both sides. It all takes approximately 10-20 minutes. BE PREPARED Narrow boats come well equipped and in a choice of sizes: a 14m boat to sleep 2-4 and a 21m boat sleeping 12. All are fitted with toilets, fully equipped galleys and televisions. There are many towns and villages along the way for shopping and coffee stops, and plenty of waterside pubs. When you are packing, use bags instead of suitcases and include warm layers to peel off or add, wet-weather gear, and non-slip walking shoes. Also, you aren't spending all day and night nice and cosy in a plush hotel, so don't forget long-sleeved shirts, sun hat, sunscreen and torches. @ Cruising the many canals is a leisurely way to see the lush English countryside.
Active Retirees Oct-Nov 2012
Active Retirees Feb-March 2013