At this year’s Watford-based IWA Festival, River Canal Rescue sponsored three trophies; the new RCR Cruising Challenge (most enterprising non-continuous journey), Robert Aickman Challenge (most enterprising journey), and AP Herbert (longest journey). The waterway assistance firm also gave away a year’s free gold, silver and bronze membership to the three winners.
When deciding who will win the accolades, the judges consider a number of criteria. These include; duration of the cruise and overall distance covered from their mooring to the Festival, waterways visited and the respective limits of navigation reached, river navigations used by canal craft, tidal crossings and presentation of a cruising log. Entrants are awarded points and extra marks are given to boaters who reach rarely-visited inland waterways.
The RCR Cruising Challenge trophy was won by David and Sylvia Jarvis on their 46 ft narrowboat ‘Orchid II’. Together with Collie, Tess, they completed three non-continuous journeys, covering 748 lock miles, from the middle of May to the Festival date. Stage one involved leaving their mooring in Banbury on the Oxford Canal, making their way to the River Trent and navigating the potentially perilous Trent Falls, before joining the River Ouse. David comments: “You need to plan carefully for this trip, go in company and get help as it can get very tricky.”
Stage two was a trip via the Humber Estuary and Ouse to reach the rarely-cruised Pocklington canal, (not surprising as in order to reach the Pocklington Canal the intrepid duo spent two hours with a small saw hacking their way through a fallen tree blocking their route) and stage three, navigating Yorkshire’s River Derwent to Stamford Bridge. ‘Orchid II’ was the fifth non-local boat to visit the Upper Derwent this year.
David concludes: “We were delighted to win the trophy and are grateful to RCR for the effort they make in encouraging people to use the waterways.”
The Robert Aickman trophy was won by Michael and Denise Bending after they travelled some 590 continuous lock miles to Watford’s Cassiobury Park on the Grand Union Canal from their mooring in Kings Bromley Marina, Staffordshire. From 23 May to 17 July, they navigated the Trent & Mersey Canal, Coventry and Oxford Canals, the Thames from the end of navigation at Lechlade down to Brentford and from there to Watford on the Grand Union Canal, visiting the Basingstoke Canal on the way.
Mike advises their 57ft narrowboat ‘Densie’ was among the first visiting boats to reach the end of navigation of the Basingstoke canal in recent times. The Canal had been unusable for four years and was re-opened at Easter after the restoration of the main flight of locks. However, a landslip caused a blockage four miles before the end of the navigation. Luckily for the Bendings, the Canal opened fully at the end of June, in time for their visit.
Commenting on their win, Mike said: “We were surprised, delighted and proud to receive the trophy – particularly as it dates back to the 1950s. We’re also very pleased with the prize of a year’s free RCR subscription.”
The third trophy, AP Herbert (longest journey), was won by John and Nancy Harman on their 63 ft narrowboat ‘Perfect Harmony’. Festival Award Officer, Paul Chilvers, explained why they were given the accolade: “Their longest journey was 576 lock miles covering the Kennet and Avon Canal from Reading to Bristol and back again. They continued onto the River Wey to Godalming (the most southerly point of the waterway network) and then navigated the tidal Thames through London to Watford. The Longest Journey trophy is given to an entrant who hasn’t won one of the other awards.”
RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, concludes: “It’s important we recognise and reward boat owners who undertake what in some cases, can be arduous journeys. These award categories fit well with our ethos which is to support people, whatever their journey.”