SAIL­ING’S STRANGEST TALES

Canal Boat - - News -

It’s of­ten been said, when things aren’t go­ing ter­ri­bly well, that “worse things hap­pen at sea” – and if the sto­ries in this book are any­thing to go by, most in­land boaters will sin­cerely hope that it’s true when com­pared to the canals. There are tales of ship­wrecks (in­clud­ing one which was the in­spi­ra­tion for a Shake­speare play), ghost ships, dis­ap­pear­ances, piracy, des­per­ate crew cast adrift on the ocean, at­tacks by killer whales and worse. Take a copy to read and be thank­ful that such things don’t hap­pen on the wa­ter­ways, and that not many ship­wrecked canal boaters have ever re­sorted to can­ni­bal­ism (even on the north­ern BCN).

Sail­ing’s Strangest Tales, John Hard­ing, Por­tico, pavil­ion­books.com, £7.99, 978-1-911042-25-9 The Times Wa­ter­ways of Bri­tain. It doesn’t set out to be an ex­haus­tive guide – rather, it picks a se­lec­tion of 25 routes to il­lus­trate the di­ver­sity of the net­work. These in­clude James Brind­ley’s ‘grand cross’ canals link­ing the Thames, Sev­ern, Trent and Mersey and other well-known wa­ter­ways in­clud­ing the Llan­gollen and Leeds & Liver­pool, but also less well-known routes in­clud­ing the Ch­ester­field and the Bridg­wa­ter & Taun­ton. For each one there is a de­tailed route de­scrip­tion, a his­tory, a fact box and a page of points of in­ter­est. Plus, in­ter­spersed among them, there are 25 ‘mile­posts’ – de­scrip­tions of in­di­vid­ual his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ments which the au­thor sees as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of wa­ter­ways de­vel­op­ment, from Brind­ley’s birth via the restora­tion of the Ash­ton Canal and on to the build­ing of the Falkirk Wheel.

Water­waysof Bri­tain, Jonathan Mosse, Collins Ni­chol­son, harpercollins.co.uk, £16.99, 978-0-00819547-2 WHILE WE’RE SURE there are lots of con­tented fish­er­men en­joy­ing a quiet day by the wa­ter, it has to be said that the oc­ca­sional one lives up to the stereo­type of the grumpy an­gler. Spare a thought, then, for those fish­ing the Hamp­shire Avon who have a novel rea­son to feel mis­er­able – too many fish! Some 60,000 rain­bow trout have es­caped from a fish farm, and the an­glers can’t help catch­ing them. One chap pulled out 52 in a morn­ing – and, as a non­na­tive species, they’re not al­lowed to throw them back in. Some an­glers are sick of eat­ing trout! Still, the lo­cal cats are do­ing well out of it… –

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