Monday 4 April 2011

C is for Canal – that’s what C is for ..

Quiet reaches of the Kennet and Avon Canal
near the Dundas Aqueduct, Wiltshire

... those waterways rich in history and in wildlife.    The 18thC Industrial Revolution fostered a huge growth in trade that horse-drawn wagons were unable to cope with.

The answer was found in canals – giving swifter transport and an enormous increase in capacity .. which lasted for a century and a half until the railways came along.

Britain’s first Canal – the Fossdyke, which is still in use, was built by the Romans in the 2nd  C AD to join Lincoln to the River Trent, on to the Humber Estuary and North Sea.

Many canals, especially now along their disused stretches, are havens for wildlife; while the towpaths have become cycle and pedestrian trails.

The flight of 16 consecutive locks at
Caen Hill on the Kennet and
Avon Canal, Wiltshire, England
The water supports an abundance of insects and other small animals ... larvae of dragonflies, water boatmen, plankton water fleas, microscopic algae  etc; deeper water provide havens for aquatic plants and fauna; grasses, rushes and wildflowers at the water’s edge.

Canal tunnels also provide a home for nocturnal bats; while warblers, wagtails and flycatchers nest in the reeds ... so these ancient routes are once again a nurturer of life.

That is Canal  – C for Canal

Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



I love walking along by a canal with the grandchildren. We had many in Bristol where I lived as a child.
I really enjoyed your post about the canal, brought back memories.


Tracy said...

I live in Pennsylvania and in late 1800s there was a canal system that streatched from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. The boats were pulled up the mountains by horses, and then put back in the canal on the other side. Once the railroad crossed the state, the canal went away. There are pieces of it here and there and it's a big part of our state's history that not many people know about. I would like to travel and see a working canal in real life.

Joanne said...

I'm a walker, and would love to walk along and explore those pedestrian towpaths.

"C"lassic post today, Hilary :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. they are great now that they've cleared the routes for us. I've done that around Newport Pagnell & Milton Keynes .. good walking routes in parkland there. Glad you enjoyed the memories .. as do I ...

@ Tracy .. good to see you again .. there was quite a lot about of canals around the world .. but then I'd have done a classic Hilary post - woven and intertwined! So simple British countryside canals is what I needed to settle on!

@ Joanne .. thanks for coming by again! especially with "C"lassic comment .. and C for Cheers and a Cafe latte!

Thanks all three .. have good weeks .. Hilary

Amber T. Smith said...

I've always loved canals, they're just feel so peaceful. Beatiful pictures!

Thanks for commenting on my blog. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Karen - you're right - that serenity .. the photos are c/o Wikipedia - they are good as you say. Good to meet you too .. see you around - Hilary

@Tara - Tundiel .. many thanks for coming over .. it was good to be at your blog & I'll enjoy the Indian learning curve .. looking forward to more ..

The peace of a slow clean canal is so wonderful .. good towpath to wander along too .. cheers Hilary

Southpaw said...

Canals are so industrious and often quite pretty.

Ella said...

WE have a small canal in the Dismal Swamp. It really makes you think of the past and all that it offers~
Always informative; Great post~

Paula Martin said...

I live near to the first 'modern' canal of the Industrial Revolution - the Bridgewater Canal which originally took coal from the mine at Worsley to the centre of Manchester. A narrowboat cruise on the canal now is like stepping into a bygone era, and there's also the fascnation of crossing the Manchester Ship Canal on the swing aqueduct.

K.C. Woolf said...

I love your theme for the A to Z challenge, so I'll be back for more. :-)

Sara said...

I liked this post. It reminded me of the stories my daughter tells about how she and her husband rent boats for holiday. They travel the canals. She said it's the most peaceful vacation they've taken.

You're really moving forward on the A to Z challenge. Good for you:~) said...

Your blog is so interesting and informative. Thanks for the follow, so I could find you and do the same.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Canals are so interesting, and peaceful. Great use of the letter C - I never would have thought of it!!

jkraus8464 said...

Another great post. THanks! Love it.

Chris said...

Hi Hilary -- only you could take us on a riveting journey through the history of early Roman canals and then move within two paragraphs into dragonfly larvae! Looking forward to the next installment.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Holly .. you're right they are becoming industrious in a gentle way again, but busy with tourists, and boating canal trips .. more and more are being restored - which is lovely for us and wildlife alike.

@ Ella - I had to find out where Dismal Swamp is ... now I know Virginia and N Carolina .. built in 1805 - early!

I see it's still working - which does take us back 200+ years .. and it's good they're restoring the cultural centres, so we can remember our heritage and times past .. thanks

@ Paula .. good to see you - yes the Bridgewater Canal is a very known one built for coal transport ..

.. and thank you - you've used the right word for me - narrowboat .. a cruise in one of those must be like stepping back into a bygone age ..

.. while the swing aqueduct sounds very interesting .. is that the new one that opened very recently?

I imagine there are some very good walks around the canals in your area .. one day I might just come and visit!!

@ KC - many thanks .. I love your recipes .. good tips - and glad you enjoy this theme ..

@ Sara .. the narrowboats (thanks Paula) do provide wonderful sorties along quiet waterways .. just listening to the gentle water disturbance, the bird song, watching the wildlife along the way .. I can believe your daughter just had a destressed time .. sounds good to me!

Yes - doing something a little different ...

@ Robyn .. delighted to see you here and so pleased you find the blog interesting .. see you around a little more I hope ..

@ Lindsay .. I just thought the ABCs of the British Countryside provided interesting subjects for us all .. seems like it's meeting approval - thank you ...

@ Jeanne .. delighted to see you -

@ Chris .. trust you to pick up my idiosynchrasy .. but great to read that you enjoyed it .. I expect those dragonfly ancestors have been there since Roman times?!?!

So good to have you here - joining me in my eclectic tour ..

Cheers everyone .. and onto D!

Enjoy Tuesday .. when it rolls around ..

Susan Scheid (Raining Acorns) said...

I thought I'd missed seeing C, and sure enough, I had! We took two canal boat rides this summer, one in the Brecon Beacons, the other in London. I'd never done such a thing before. I'll confess to a bit of cabin fever after a while, but it is a view of the world like no other!

Anonymous said...

My hubby took me to Devizes locks on our first date. It had only recently been reopened. :O)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Raining Acorns .. thanks for coming back to comment - I can imagine the cabin fever a little - be prepared I suppose for the uncertainties of the weather. I'm quite looking forward to doing a trip up the new Canal to the Olympic park .. that should be interesting .. and the Brecon Beacons are always delightful ..

@ Madeleine .. Romantic Devizes - tie you up with a lock!?! Good place to stroll and talk .. for the future happy days ahead ..! They've done a lot of refurbishment

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Canals are romantic

Nice **C post!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Doris .. thank you - they are peaceful idylls .. in our rushed world .. cheers Hilary

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Rich in history and wildlife - you uncover those facts so well, Hilary. Many thanks. Bats...ewwww.

Sheila Deeth said...


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Amy .. lovely seeing you here as I work my way backwards through comments I've missed in my brief sick interlude!

Canals have so much to offer all aspects of life - yes including bats! - which we so often forget .. great comment - thanks so much.

@ Sheila .. more memories - yes!! Thanks for stopping by ...