SAILING’S STRANGEST TALES
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… –