By Jonathan Mosse, Collins Nicholson Waterways Guides researcher and author.
|Photo © Callum Frew|
Until 2012 the main guides in the Collins Nicholson Waterways series were updated every three years, which meant that a small team of writers, researchers and editors mobilised for about nine months before publication. There was little time for forward planning and even less for contemplation, with the result that my ‘wish list’ for the inclusion of ‘new’ waterways remained tantalisingly out of reach of realisation.
And then at the behest of the lead publisher in Collins’ Glasgow office, a schedule was devised which saw a programme of annual updating, involving just three guides, on a rotational basis. This, of course, still amounted to each book receiving a full update every three years, but lay within the grasp of a single writer and researcher, ably supported by the Glasgow editorial team. And, equally important, there was now enough temporal slack in the system to start looking at my ‘wish list’, and prevent it becoming an unrealisable ‘bucket list’.
|Collins Nicholson Waterways Guides and Map|
Working my way round the waterways system of Britain by boot, bike and boat has always been a delight and one that I never cease to tire of. It provides a constant reminder of just what a beautiful and topographically diverse country we live in. I never cease to marvel at this variety. On those occasions when it is not actually raining (see Halfie blog posts for August and Jonathan Mosse fixes it for Nicholson's), the diversity of the climate can also be a source of wonder!
However, the best part of the job undoubtedly lies in writing about a new waterway for insertion into the guides for the very first time. Having that wee bit of space for contemplation identifies those waterways worthy of inclusion, while there is also time to work the necessary additional research into the schedule.
photo © Jonathan Mosse
First off has been the Grantham Canal which, sitting as it does virtually in the heart of the country, is surprisingly easy to miss simply by virtue of the fact that the three main north – south routes (the M1, A1 and M6) neatly bracket this navigation, offering little opportunity for pause and enjoyment. It truly is a magical waterway, seemingly lost in a time warp, as it meanders its languid way through undisturbed countryside, overlooked throughout much of its length by the fairy-tale Belvoir Castle. Now, Nicholson’s Nottingham, York & the North East Waterways Guide reveals all.
|Cotswolds Canal Stroudwater|
Navigation, photo © Jonathan Mosse
In contrast, the Cotswold Canals (a moniker of convenience embracing the Stroudwater Navigation – running pretty well due east from the Severn to Stroud – together with the Thames & Severn Canal, which extends the waterway another 29 miles, soaring over the Cotswold Scarp, making a junction with the Thames at Lechlade) is somewhat more ‘no-nonsense’ but in no way less attractive than its Midlands’ cousin. Just as I did, you can enjoy all 36 miles of this multi-faceted waterway, documented in 24 pages of the new Severn, Avon & Birmingham Waterways Guide. It certainly makes for a bracing walk!
© Jonathan Mosse, Feb 2014
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