HOATING PAST

February 19th, 2014

A11 is quiet save for the gentle creak of leather harness, the muted footfalls of the plodding horse and its handler, and the faintest whoosh as the bow-wave creases the reeds. A brightly painted barge glides easily along the quiet waters of a canal, passing through a peaceful rural landscape dotted with farms and cottages. It is a scene that could belong in the 20th as easily as in the 18th century.

The canals that form today’s picturesque web of inland waterways were mainly built 200 years ago, when the Napoleonic Wars made the English Channel dangerous, more here. Ingenious engineers, caught up in the excitement of the Industrial Revolution, broke new ground as they carved over 4,000 miles of arti-ficial waterways linking mills, factories and pits with their customers.

But competition in Victorian times from the new railways signalled the beginning of the end for the prosperous canal trade. The life of the waterways would have been short indeed had it not been for the determination of certain groups to revive these watery highways.

8.Napoleonic Wars

 

The new cargoes of the canals are holidaymakers and day trippers. And though most of the canal boats which operate countrywide are motorised, it is still possible to take an evocative ride on a horse-drawn narrowboat in some places, such as along part of the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Completed in 1810, the Kennet & Avon links the River Thames at Reading with the Bristol Channel. Its 93 miles are a combination of three waterways: the River Kennet in the east and the Avon in the west, joined by 57 miles of man-made waterway. You can find more from Europe checking the bestĀ Europe Cities website.

Passing through a peaceful rural landscape marked by villages, market towns and the Georgian city of Bath, the canal that was once used mainly for transporting coal and agricultural products now provides a tranquil setting for boaters, canoeists, walkers, fishermen and cyclists. And though some of the scenery viewed from today’s canal boats would seem familiar to those who travelled these waters in centuries gone by, life on board could not be more different.

The Circus, Bath, England, by Architect John Wood the Elder

 

Originally, canal boats were usually drawn by horse, but tunnels were some-times built without towpaths in order to save money, so while the horse was led over the top, boats were “legged” through by the boatmen or special “leggers.” If yoy are interesting in history of Spain, hotels and guest houses check thisĀ hotel comparison in barcelona website.

Two strong thick boards would be hooked on each side of the barge near the head while, in the words of a passenger on the narrowboat Stourport in 1858, the “venturesome boatmen lie on their backs, with their legs up to the waist hanging over the water .. . four heavily hobnailed boots . .. make a full echoing sound upon the walls like the measured clapping of hands.”