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Boat Blog: BCN Bad News

Posted by indigodream on 27 January, 2010

Wednesday 27th January

Key messages:

The BCN Marathon Challenge 2010 has been cancelled

The BCN IS open for cruising …….


I’ve just had a phone call from one of the organisers of the BCN marathon challenge to say that the event’s been cancelled. It’s not my tale to tell, which is why I’m calling this an editorial – there is no way that I can claim or wish to claim that I represent the views of the BCN Society.

There’s obviously been a lot of background discussion but as far as I can make out, the gist of it is that BW have concerns about maintaining the BCN’s water level and have asked the Society to avoid events that will generate too much extra traffic all in one go. Of course, that’s the whole point of the BCN Challenge – getting as many boats round as much of the BCN in one go!

We’re obviously very disappointed – we so enjoyed last year’s challenge and we’ve been getting excited about plotting a route which would enable us to……

  1. Win (ha ha!)
  2. Take in all of the branches that we haven’t explored yet – the Challenge was fantastic for making us explore waterways which we would not have otherwise visited, and I’m so pleased that we did.

I can only imagine how the organisers must be feeling – my heart goes out to them for the work they’ve done to get it to this stage. The only good thing is that the cancellation has come through early so hopefully there won’t be too much work for them in refunding entry fees and suchlike.

I’m hopeful that the challenge will run in future years, though I’m finding it difficult to pray for the wet summer that the Birmingham  reservoirs apparently need 🙂 – Edit:  Specifically the Chasewater Reservoir which supplies a lot of the water to the BCN plateau and is being drained as the dam is not looking to clever. Thanks Adam for the tip. You can see Gordon in all his glory answering a question about Chasewater here

I did have a few wry thoughts about events that could replace the challenge:

  • a walking or cycling ‘marathon’ along the towpaths, with extra points for finding sites where the canals used to be. (We would probably need to disqualify Captain Ahab to give everyone else a chance).
  • exploring the BCN by canoe (maybe big Canadian Canoes rather than kayaks – extra points if you’re brave enough to pitch your tent in Perry Barr….)
  • if the canal got to the stage of being dewatered (I’m sure it won’t happen) then maybe we could have a competition for the most trolleys spotted, or tonnage of scrap recovered (proceeds from sale of metal scrap to China to go to the BCNS….).
  • Exploring the BCN by rowing boat Ankh Morpork style (fans of Terry Prattchet will know where I’m coming from) – the water in the mythical city of Ankh Morpork is so thick that rowing involved cutting the bottom out of the boat and running along the surface – another option if the BCN happened to find itself dewatered down to the mud!

I’ve been a bit flippant but I’m sure that the BCN will be open for normal business over the summer so if you get the opportunity then do go and explore its many branches – it’s a fascinating place to visit. I’d also like to thank the good folk of the BCN Society for trying to get the event off the ground – please keep trying in the future – the challenge is a great experience.

So, our 2010 cruising plans ,which were starting to revolve nicely around the BCN challenge and a possible adventure on the Thames with the St Pancras Cruising Club in August (more on this later if it’s confirmed), will have to be revised again. But then again, that freedom is what makes it so good to be a continuous cruiser and there is still so much of the network that we have yet to explore, and, even without the BCN,  many places that we’d like re-explore …..

NOTE: AS FAR AS WE KNOW THERE IS ENOUGH WATER IN THE BCN FOR NORMAL CRUISING – so don’t be put off – do plan your own cruise around the BCN – you won’t regret it…..


A few highlights from last year’s challenge……

Hawne Basin - start point for the 2009 challenge

Views at Windmill End

View down onto Netherton Tunnel from the old main line

Wolverhampton Level

View from the Wednesbury Oak Loop

View towards Horseley Fields Junction

On the Wyrely and Essington Canal

Dawn on the Cannock Extension Canal

View from the Daw End Branch

View down from the Tame Valley Canal

Walsall Canal - bit overgrown....

The end of the 2009 challenge - Walsall Town Basin

9 Responses to “Boat Blog: BCN Bad News”

  1. Greygal said

    I think they’d heard that there would be 7 greyhounds marauding the towpaths…not surprised they cancelled! Big shame though but I guess this gives us permission to spend 2010 on the Leeds & Liverpool. Leeds, Skipton, the Liver Building, here we come!

  2. indigodream said

    I did wonder whether they’ve only rung us to cancel and that everyone else is being allowed to take part!

    Shame, with at least 2 packs of greys on the cut I was wondering whether there was a greyhound publicity/fundraising opportunity there (possibly with betting on the inevitable Susie/Lou dog-fight :-))- another year maybe……

  3. indigodream said

    Ooh, don’t forget to plan a trip from Liverpool to Manchester via the Mersey and the Ship Canal – Richard would be ever so jealous…..

  4. Adam said

    I guess this is because of the problems with the Chasewater Reservoir, which needs to be drained for work on a dam. I gather it could take a couple of years to fill up again, once the repairs have been carried out.

  5. indigodream said

    Thanks Adam, it must be the Chasewater Reservoir. I googled and got a towpath talk article which at the moment is a short scroll down here It seems that this reservoir was even the subject to questions in the House of P – Can’t say that Mr Brown’s answer re-assured me in any way.

  6. John Slee said

    So sad that the Challengs is off – but glad we’re doing it while there’s still water about – even if it was not in the right place at Oldbury when we arrived today! – more details on tomorrow’s blog.

    Thanks for the great pictures – we could do with some of that blue sky, but I gather it’s coming ….but bringing some cold nights with it again.

  7. Capt Ahab said

    I am devastated! And to think that I had pulled together a world class crew and secured a weekend pass from Belle!
    Life can be so cruel. Never mind – there is always next year (or the year after it it taked two years to refill)
    Capt Ahab

  8. indigodream said

    Epiphany – it’s a blow to the BCN – I hope that people don’t have too much trouble getting round over summer or that’ll dent the canal’s reputation yet more. I’ve been enjoying your blog of the BCN – like being there all over again. We had an exceptional day when we took those photos – blue sky and warm – now how often does that happen!

    Captain – you must be gutted – a weekend pass is a rare and precious thing! Can you find some other monumental task for your crew – a deep clean and polish maybe???,

  9. Capt Ahab said

    No time for cleaning when cruising is afoot!

    Quick change of plan is called for. A few conflicting diary dates have meant that what is usually my annual BCN pilgrimage was been shunted back to the “not the BCN Challenge” weekend, but rather pleasingly has managed to be extended to a whole week. The plan is now a boinus trip to Ellesmere Port and back.
    I have never seen the museum so that will be a bonus.

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