Clear Water, Clear Access Campaign

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
Recently found out about this campaign by the BCU. I ran it past the moderators and have been given the go ahead to post it. Perhaps you agree with the principle of open access on land and can't see how inland waterways should be different. If that's your viewpoint then please visit this link and hopefully place your voice alongside more than 10,000 others. It probably won't change much but it's still worthwhile IMHO.

https://clearaccessclearwaters.org.uk/about-clear-access-clear-water-campaign/
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
I don't paddle anymore but I started in the bad old days where there was a lot of negativity from other groups and owners of riparian rights. Someone I knew got a brick through his very expensive carbon fibre slalom boat. Some kayakers on one local River got back to their car parked out of the way in a lay-by near the ingress point to find the tyres shot out. Apparently a local farmer warned them he'd do that but obviously no witnesses.

We had to paddle rivers under agreements or only on certain weekends. Unless we paddled them outside of access agreements of course? I remember at the time reading about academic research into the disturbance of fish by canoeists passing by and apparently fish aren't as bothered by boats as thought at the time. It could be said that anglers used up blame canoeists for not catching stuff!!

BTW I did not blame anglers for our lack of access because even back then when canoeing was more of a minority sport us canoeists didn't always help our cause? There used to be some irresponsible groups around which of course got us all tarred by the same brush.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,152
4,502
Mid Wales
Unfortunately there are bigger irresponsible groups now often organised by clubs - just far too many people in one stretch of river. I have paddled since a kid and Have never had any problems at all and, to some extent, I would like things to stay as they are - but that's being selfish.

The reason some rivers are pleasantly quiet is because there is confusion over the law. The reason the landowners don't take those of us that paddle them to court is because there is confusion over the law. Suits me perfectly.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
They don't take to court because of the cost I reckon.

Whilst I agree with you that I've always paddled the rivers I wanted to there has been times when it was outside the agreement but the river was in perfect condition. As a club we couldn't break BCU negotiated, local access agreements because at the time they were often trial agreements. Breaking them could have had long term issues what I'm understand read BCU policy over access to negotiate local agreements. More recently this has grown into more agreements with a lot of local rivers having them I think.

Interesting enough all the outdoor sports bodies campaigned jointly back in the day for access legislation. Right to roam. At one time BCU, BMC and RA all campaigned in a cooperative way towards access rights to waterways and countryside. As success was looking possible AIUI BCU got stiffed by the others bodies who suddenly ditched the access to waterways part. It was about that time that I stood back from kayaking. That's what I've of our committee members told me at the time and he was involved in access matters.

Before CRoW act came in I had no issues with access since I mostly walked on footpaths or in the lakes. However, I still think access rights enshrined in law is a good thing. With inland waterways access was going to be included in the CRoW act I believe at one point. It was dropped because there were more issues involved? Not sure what they were because it's just a form of land Kendrick ownership like any other.
 

henchy3rd

Full Member
Apr 16, 2012
415
270
Derby
There’s CROW & freedom to roam in the uk with a certain amount of laws/bylaws.I suggest you visit the governments website for clarity.
As for rivers & canals, well I live on the water & I’m a keen canoeist/camper..
All I can suggest is join the British canoeing Membership & obtain a licence( it amazes me how many water born vessels have no licence) small price to pay for proper guidance, offers & a chance to meet responsible like minded people.
In all honesty I’ve never had a problem with canoe camping as I play discreet & as they say.. take only pictures & leave only footprints.
if you are approached by a landowner, remain calm & kind & be prepared to move on if asked.
You can also travel a respectful distance by vehicle to launch your boat into water as agreed by the government & British Canoeing As it’s deemed as exercise.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,152
4,502
Mid Wales
There’s CROW & freedom to roam in the uk with a certain amount of laws/bylaws.I suggest you visit the governments website for clarity.
As for rivers & canals, well I live on the water & I’m a keen canoeist/camper..
All I can suggest is join the British canoeing Membership & obtain a licence( it amazes me how many water born vessels have no licence) small price to pay for proper guidance, offers & a chance to meet responsible like minded people.
In all honesty I’ve never had a problem with canoe camping as I play discreet & as they say.. take only pictures & leave only footprints.
if you are approached by a landowner, remain calm & kind & be prepared to move on if asked.
You can also travel a respectful distance by vehicle to launch your boat into water as agreed by the government & British Canoeing As it’s deemed as exercise.

Canoe Wales is the is the Welsh equivalent to BCU and is affiliated hence our membership buys us access to UK licensed waters. Navigations and canals are fine - it's the 'up-river' access that's the issue.

I confess to being in two minds; if I thought that everyone would be responsible on land and water I'd support it, but my faith in mankind is diminishing by the day and wasn't that great to start with.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
Not a good idea. Maybe a passport system could work but not free access to everyone.
Why? It's a good idea for land right? It must be because it's the legal situation now. What is it about inland waterways that's different?

People are as much a problem on land as water. We had a wild camp up near grasmere after a group social in a pub on the main road. After the night of heavy rain we walked down carrying used tins of baked beans, used nappy and numerous other detritus from a spot families tend to walk to, have lunch then go home.

There's groups wildcamping and trashing popular areas, even reputable organisations like outward bounds have left areas in a right state before now up in the lakes.

I do not see how water users are going to be that much worse than land users. We're all part of the same society, part of the same problem and solution. When I kayaked I found fellow peddlers less of an issue than the masses that walk in the lakes. Just my experience though.
 

Stew

Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
5,746
688
Aylesbury
stewartjlight-knives.com
Why? It's a good idea for land right? It must be because it's the legal situation now. What is it about inland waterways that's different?

People are as much a problem on land as water. We had a wild camp up near grasmere after a group social in a pub on the main road. After the night of heavy rain we walked down carrying used tins of baked beans, used nappy and numerous other detritus from a spot families tend to walk to, have lunch then go home.

There's groups wildcamping and trashing popular areas, even reputable organisations like outward bounds have left areas in a right state before now up in the lakes.

I do not see how water users are going to be that much worse than land users. We're all part of the same society, part of the same problem and solution. When I kayaked I found fellow peddlers less of an issue than the masses that walk in the lakes. Just my experience though.
Haven’t you just made the argument not to open it up?
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
The trouble is people are trashing the planet everywhere. Drive along most of our a roads and you'll see rubbish thrown out of cars apply the way. Let's ban all but a privileged minority from the roads. Town centres with litter on the floor so let's only the privileged minority into town centres.

It's still the minority leaving this rubbish whether on the hills or roads or town centres. Is that a reason to limit access? BTW when I paddled most of the rubbish in rivers was not from kayakers. Angling detritus, plastic sacks from farms or other similar use, etc. Oh and the odd dead sheep wrapped around a tree trunk unfortunately.

We were discussing rubbish today. The question was who was leaving the rubbish when it must be universally known that plastics and rubbish are a bit problem? With schools from a young age teaching about the environment and disposal of rubbish for decades now, what is missing in education to stop this? What mentality of those throwing rubbish onto the ground instead of disposal responsibly?
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,617
1,563
Bedfordshire
Hi Paul,
So far a lot of what you have written can be turned around to read "we are okay with people trashing these areas on land, so let's allow them to trash new areas along waterways." That sort of argument is not helpful to the cause.

Everyone
I went away and did a little reading about this subject and I think it fair to say that the situation and aim of the petition has not been terribly well explained or represented here. You all may have been better informed about it to begin with, but further reading made the subject of more open access of waterways seem more reasonable. I had not realised how few rivers/waterways, have access, or how muddy the law is.

Admittedly, my reading has been brief, but there appear to be a number of areas of contention with different concerns and it wasn't clear to me how the petition would impact these.

Legal right to paddle across the water. The banks and bed can be private, but what about the water itself? I can see why fishermen, who may pay substantially to be on the river (esp trout and salmon fishermen) could be unhappy. I went down the Spey and encountered mixed reactions from salmon anglers, but mostly good, much better than the maggot drowners along the Thames in Oxford. Seems the main concern here is quantity. One party of canoeists going past in a day isn't a big deal. A steady stream of them throughout the day rather more so, especially if they stop to play. There isn't much that a fisherman, fishing, can do to mess up a canoeists day, other than be rude, obstructive or violent, but splashing about in a canoe can certainly put fish down for a time. There is also the quite reasonable concern that once people are on the water, they will get off the water and onto the land where they will cause damage or a mess.

Legal bank access to put in/take out. Even on waterways that have legal access for paddlers, it is often difficult to find places to put in and take out a boat, and in some cases these same access points can be occupied by maggot drowners who don't want to share. Understandably, landowners are suspicious of the public being granted more access points with visions of cars parked badly, blocked gates, liability insurance, loose dogs, litter, damaged fences or the expense of more gates. The walking public are often rude to farmers and don't stick to public footpaths, and once on land do not recognise that the right of access has limitations. Accessing for put in and take out, done right, shouldn't be a problem for land owners, but again its quantity and people acting responsibly. If a land owner has to put up with problems and get nothing for it, why should they be happy about it?

Easement along the banks, open access up to a distance from the river. This is how things are done in New Zealand, where there is free access up rivers and for X metres along the banks. There are also US Federal laws of a similar nature, but the US states and local areas often ignore them. This is probably the greatest concern. A petition asking for open access could be interpreted as wanting free access for 5m either side of the waterway. I don't know whether this is the intent or not, but it was how I read it when I first saw this thread. This is where the whole, people making a mess concern really comes in.

It would be useful for people who are canoeist to step in and describe how things work on rivers and lakes were there is already open or limited access. Would more access reduce the pressure on the resource by people becoming more spread out? Or, like junk expanding to fill available space, would more access simply see more people dropping litter and messing up places that have been preserved till now?
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,152
4,502
Mid Wales
As I said at the beginning, I am not in favour of simply opening up the waterways to all without some level of accountability. However, I do believe that we cannot continue with the current situation where access to our rivers is limited to a small percentage of the population. Being someone that does both fly fishing and canoeing I believe there is room for both activities.

When I go greenlaning in the Landy I will not take more than four vehicles total and I prefer less than that - there are commercial groups that take ten or twelve vehicles out a at a time and that should not be allowed. When I go backpacking in the mountains I will not take more than four people with me, yet we see groups of 'hikers' and 'ramblers' of twenty or more in day-glow orange jackets and making a noise like a flock of geese. On canoe treks I prefer a maximum of three boats; I sometimes allow four. There are well known river sections used for training and activities where you'll see scores of boats at the same time - and that's fine, but as a fly fisher I would despair at seeing a noisy group of ten or twenty boats coming down the river often taking half an hour or more to pass.

I will pick up on one point that Paul made though - by far the most litter currently on our rivers is farm mess- typically silage bale plastic; that needs sorting and farms need to be more accountable for the rubbish and pollution.

I believe we all need to be accountable for our activities in this overcrowded island. I have never been asked for my Canoe Wales (BCU in England) license in over fifty years of paddling - that's wrong - no license, no insurance, no paddling. The same should apply in the uplands; if we want to enjoy them we should have insurance cover that pays for our rescue etc. when things go wrong IMO. We will also need to pay for the administration of any process that is put in place - like it or not, the general population should not be paying through their taxes for us to enjoy a sport/activity - I don't contribute to football or golf or even course fishing!

However, everyone needs to study the current situation and decide for themselves and try and look at it from everyone's point of view: the locals that have to put up with cars parked blocking farm traffic; the landowners that have to deal with vehicles, gates, rubbish and bank erosion; the anglers that pay very high annual fees to fish the rivers; the wildlife that needs the constantly diminishing space to breed (such as gravel beds).

Have a look here:

Canoe Wales - Where to paddle

River Access for All
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,617
1,563
Bedfordshire

From the fishing side, makes mention of being unable to reach a compromise middle agreement as Canoe Wales wants nothing less than free access at all times and flows.

And this, which high lights concerns about environmental impact and notes the increase in use over this last year.

I am reminded of the story my dad told of the hippies holding a huge gathering on a grass area of Central Park (NYC), which had signs telling people to "keep off". The hippies wanted their right to sit on grass, to enjoy nature, and in exercising it all together, they trampled the grass to death.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,152
4,502
Mid Wales
Yep, which is why I, selfishly, would prefer things to stay as they were :( - but, I think, we're past that now.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
I'm not saying...

"we are okay with people trashing these areas on land, so let's allow them to trash new areas along waterways."

...in any way. I was just making the point that limiting access because a minority that cause problems would have meant no open access legislation in England and Wales. There's probably more problem people in the hills than who use inland waterways? A lot of problems around rivers are as likely to be walkers creating paths to view the river where there's no RoW or for camping out. There's a popular one near Ingleton where there's a popular camping/drinking spot by a little waterway in a valley on the way over to Hawes or Dent I can't recall which now. Then you've got the issues on the edges of loch Lomond and other places too.

As to groups disturbing fish I wonder how true that is. Could it be the lack of success by an angler be attributed to kayak groups? I recall research carried out by a UK research group on fish disturbance by other users of bodies of water. That was 15-20 years ago I think. Their initial studies showed that within 5-10 minutes of disturbance the fish were already feeding and behaving normally. Now from my experience of paddling in Cumbria and Scotland there were often several groups but they were not as close as 10 minutes apart. If they were then play spots would become bunching up places which rarely happened on the rivers we often paddled.

Some of those rivers had access agreements on for several years without any issues being reported. Then suddenly local groups got letters saying access agreements were cancelled without any reason given. That led to groups paddling without agreements in place. Kept to the same rules. Indeed the group's I went with added their own which related to water levels at certain spots. They had to cover certain indicators or it was considered too low for the gravel beds which were the spawning beds. I rarely saw paddlers kayak those rivers at levels they'd cause damage to the spawning beds.

Scotland has an interesting situation that could be looked at. No fishing happens on a Sunday for religious reasons that have become traditions. So paddlers did their sport on those rivers on Sundays and usually not Saturdays on those popular fishing rivers I once got told.

AIUI riparian rights run from the bank to the centre line of the river. That includes the bed. Not sure but I once got told that riparian rights don't always go with the owner of the river banks. Usually but not always.

It's a tricky situation for sure but no different to land access. Ingress and egress points often equate to access points to open access land. There's many areas where pre CRoW legislation walls were knocked down where people gained access to open land and to cut corners where the rights of way were not convenient to the routes walkers wanted to take. Later on they often became access points to open access land with stiles put in. What if the same sort of thing happened with waterway access?

Right now most ingress and egress points are near road access for the rivers we used to do. At most a short walk down a bank or occasionally across a field using a footpath. Other rivers come out into parks, garage forecourt and a few other unusual places. The damage caused is no different to the by walkers wanting to take a view of the river that I've seen.
 
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henchy3rd

Full Member
Apr 16, 2012
415
270
Derby
The trouble is people are trashing the planet everywhere. Drive along most of our a roads and you'll see rubbish thrown out of cars apply the way. Let's ban all but a privileged minority from the roads. Town centres with litter on the floor so let's only the privileged minority into town centres.

It's still the minority leaving this rubbish whether on the hills or roads or town centres. Is that a reason to limit access? BTW when I paddled most of the rubbish in rivers was not from kayakers. Angling detritus, plastic sacks from farms or other similar use, etc. Oh and the odd dead sheep wrapped around a tree trunk unfortunately.

We were discussing rubbish today. The question was who was leaving the rubbish when it must be universally known that plastics and rubbish are a bit problem? With schools from a young age teaching about the environment and disposal of rubbish for decades now, what is missing in education to stop this? What mentality of those throwing rubbish onto the ground instead of disposal responsibly?
yup, had a pleasant walk down the canal today..only to come across these bottles & loads of fishing Line Which wasn’t there 2 weeks ago.
I have noticed even during lockdown it seems to be getting worse, are people giving up & are we fighting a losing battle?
This past year I’ve seen three swans with the chest cleanly removed On the river trent, there was another but it was bones..are people getting so hungry this is what they are resorting to to feed the family?
I also noticed the bare trees are festooned with dog Pooh bags too(revolting behaviour)
As someone pointed out, education must start at an early life, not just at school but in the home too.We won’t see any difference in our life time,but there could be hope for the future surly.
Anyhow, to end on a good note, snowdrops are bursting out with their nodding heads dancing in the wind & snow.
 

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,162
965
Lancashire
The trouble is schools have taught about environmental issues including rubbish for a generation or more. It's not being seen as there's as much rubbish as ever. That's how our discussion went. It's not old it young doing it. It's all ages and social or economic groups doing it. People into the outdoors as much as townies. There's something wrong and it's not down to education. Probably a social or societal issue that's deeper than education.

It's worse since lockdown, especially with dog mess on our canal towpath. There's a boat owner who's a bit of a psychopath with right wing tendencies. Sounds not very nice but he's ok if you're ok with him. What he hates is dog owners who don't scoop their dogs pool. He once intimidated a jogger with two labradors that he never watched. The guy tried to claim it wasn't his dog but one went and did it right in front of them as they were arguing. He picked both up with bags the boat owner gave him. He never even had a bag with him!!!

Recent snow melted to reveal dog pop everywhere. Seriously brown pop on white snow isn't n hard to see. Even bags of it under the snow in the middle of the path. It was once rather clean towpath but lockdown was the change here. It's similar along pavements in town.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,152
4,502
Mid Wales
I really don't think education has anything to do with it. The reality is that society has changed and there's a general 'I'm in this for me and f***k the rest of you' attitude now. There's no such thing as respect for other people, the countryside or wildlife.

I know that's a generalisation and it's still a minority attitude but it's prevalent enough to show. I despair when I see the mess made and general lack of consideration for others shown. And, it's not just kids, some of the old farmers around here couldn't give a fig for wildlife, or the countryside in general, unless they can make extra profit out of it.

As I said before, my faith in mankind is diminishing by the day.
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
7,651
1,631
47
Exeter
I really don't think education has anything to do with it. The reality is that society has changed and there's a general 'I'm in this for me and f***k the rest of you' attitude now. There's no such thing as respect for other people, the countryside or wildlife.

I know that's a generalisation and it's still a minority attitude but it's prevalent enough to show. I despair when I see the mess made and general lack of consideration for others shown. And, it's not just kids, some of the old farmers around here couldn't give a fig for wildlife, or the countryside in general, unless they can make extra profit out of it.

As I said before, my faith in mankind is diminishing by the day.

I've not really read all the posts here so forgive me if I'm wide of the mark.

I've had a few thoughts ref how cultures are different and if it would be possible to change certain attitudes and behaviours to the environment and litter etc.

As an example I believe the Japanese don't employ Caretakers in the primary and secondary schools - instead the children are expected each day to maintain the cleanliness and upkeep of their school environment as they have from day one a vested personal interest in its state of upkeep.

I believe this upkeep mentality then extends into their mature adult life and as such littering in society isn't an issue.

There are LOTS of difference between our cultures and theirs would seem to be far more the collective rather than the western way where individual believes they are sacrosanct. But I do wonder how much positivity and maybe how quickly that ethos could be ingrained in the next generation if it was allowed to be implemented if needed.

But something like the concept of the environmental DAVOS driven 'Great Reset' maybe pushed upon people sooner rather than later.
 

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