Monday, August 17, 2009

Power to the Paddlers!!

While the TV program "Rivers" (as in yesterdays post) is itself a mild drift down Britain's pleasant rivers, it hasn't stopped its presenter Griff Rhys Jones from getting angry again. And you know I think he does have a point.

For while in Scotland there are rights that allow canoers and kayakers to use rivers as long as they are navigatable, in England the vast majority of rivers are privately owned and hence out of bounds.

Indeed the statistic he quotes is that 97% of rivers over 3m wide are closed off so that navigation is not permitted, and that does seem pretty outrageous.

The argument that land owners apparently give is that canoeists and kayakers disturb the fish - and given that a short stretch of river bank can earn a million pounds from eager salmon fishermen that can result in quite a loss.

However the one part of Britain that is famous for its salmon is Scotland, where of course paddling is not restricted.

The angry sailor canoeist (below, with his faithful dog Cadbury) at this point started a bit of a rumpus by calling on canoeists to "disturb as many fishermen as possible".

That does seem a bit undiplomatic to say the least, but his heart is in the right place.

There are wide ranging rights for walkers (hikers) to roam across the countryside and those rights should be extended to paddlers.


bonnie said...

Oh, I am so curious - has the BCU had anything to say about this yet?

Carol Anne said...

One of the things I enjoyed about Britain the year that I lived there was the concept of public footpaths -- even on private property, there were paths open to the public for hiking on. I remember hiking in the Down on paths that had existed as public rights-of-way since the Stone Age. It seems odd that the waterways in England shouldn't have the same sort of provision.

JP said...

Bonnie: yes! See great web site here:

Carol Anne: I think that idea behind the right of way legislation is what the river access campaign have in mind.

The concept of public access to private property is a great way to encourage us to get out into the open air.

Pat said...

You'd think everyone would prefer to be on the stream, anyway.

On a public footpath, you might pass near Britain's most dangerous beast -- a bull.

On a river, you might encounter a most edible fish -- salmon.

I know which one I'd prefer to encounter.