When we went on our first holiday on "the Cut" in 1979, we did not know what to expect. It was a totally alien environment to us, but we quickly found that we relaxed with the slow pace enforced by the "Rule of the Road". As I am ex-Merchant Navy, I have always been used to keeping a ship's log, so we decided that we would do so as a diary of what we got up to that holiday. In those days, there were no laptops (or even PCs for that matter!) so the log was kept on paper and typed up (yes, with a typewriter) later.
Since then, we have fallen in love with life on the Cut, and apart from a period when we thought (we may now have changed our minds) that the children were too young, we've had a boating holiday most years.
With the advent of the PC, the typing became easier, and with the coming of the laptop and (reliable) mobile phones we have been able to create a website for each holiday and update it on the move. This was mostly for family and friends, and the site was removed after we returned home. In 2008, I decided to create a larger site, with a full history of our holidays. I updated the html and added the previous three holidays which already had content, and now, using the 2008 holiday as a basis, have completed creating sub-sites for all our previous holidays. The older we go with these "recreated" logs, the smaller the information available, but we hope you enjoy looking back with us over our holidays.
In the early 1990s, I came across a database which did for the canals what Autoroute and other route-planners do for the roads. Canal Planner for Windows, written by Syd Arkless, himself a boat owner, allowed one to plan a route from A to B and it would give distances, lock numbers, boatyards, pubs (very important) and other information along the route. An addition to the program allowed a log to be kept of the journey undertaken. This is the base which I now use to plan and log, and from which I take my speeds averages etc. Alas, Syd passed on in 2003, and his excellent software is no longer supported.
I have provided a map of most of the canal system of England and Wales (correct at 2002). Although Scotland has the Caledonian, Crinan, and the newly reopened Forth & Clyde and Union canals, they are obviously not connected to the main system. I have also provided a potted history of how the system came into existence.
Pat and I would recommend boating holidays to anyone who wants to relax, but is not frightened of a little physical work occasionally. Working the locks is great fun, the people you meet are almost always friendly, and one never gets tired of the ever-changing scenery.
2013 was the last holiday we had in a hire-boat. During that holiday, we started the process to enable our dream of having our own boat to come true. The result is "Paws 4 Thought" - you can find more details of the selection and build processes on our new log .
Distance and lock data courtesy of "Canal Planner for Windows" (v6), written by the late Syd Arkless.