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IWA report highlights the big benefits to be had from small steps in restoration

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust has been praised in a new report by the Inland Waterways Association, designed to show how well thought-out, partial restoration initiatives can deliver benefits to communities from the very beginning. 

The Waterways in Progress report looks at the positive differences ongoing waterway restoration makes to communities, documenting the quantifiable benefits to be had even if full restoration is some years ahead.

IWA chairman and actor David Suchet said the report showed the magic that could be created by visionary groups of volunteers who are determined to make a difference to our waterways.

He added: “One restored, short stretch of water can host a trip boat, which may offer people their first ever taste of life on the water. A new towpath can encourage us to get out and about, improving both our physical and mental health, and a canalside community room can bring local people together in a variety of ways.”

The report uses case studies from across the UK to illustrate the gains to be had from canal restoration, from volunteers’ increased personal wellbeing, to creating community spaces and enhancing heritage and the natural habitat.

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust was singled out for the creation of the Wey-South Path, a walking route from Guildford, Surrey, to a junction with the South Downs Way above Amberley, West Sussex. Devised in the early 1970s on behalf of the Trust, the Path utilises almost all of the canal’s towpath which is open to the public – necessarily diverting to avoid sections where a right of way does not exist through private land.

Along the route, walkers have the chance to see a large amount of work already completed on the canal.

The Wey-South Path guide costs £4 and can be bought online at https://weyarun.org.uk/shop/maps-and-books/6-the-wey-south-path.html, or from the Trust’s Canal Centre in Loxwood, West Sussex.

The full Waterways in Progress report can be viewed at: www.waterways.org.uk/waterwaysinprogress.

Gill Davies
Date: 
Thursday, April 18, 2019
  • The report is designed to celebrate the gains to be had right from the start of restoration.
  • The creation of the Wey-South Path was used to illustrate the benefit of providing walks and cycle paths.