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Pandemic highlights the value of canal restoration

The number of paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeists who took to the Wey & Arun Canal in 2020 hit a record high as the pandemic brought many more visitors to all parts of the canal.

The number of people visiting the longest restored section at Loxwood was well above average throughout the year, along with other picturesque areas such as Lordings Lock near Wisborough Green and Hunt Nature Park in Shalford, as the public discovered the beauty and tranquillity of the canal for walking and cycling.

Chairman Sally Schupke said the increase in use has brought into sharp focus the value of restoring the canal for leisiure use. “During the pandemic so many people have appreciated the green spaces on their doorstep and the canal as an ideal place for small craft. In uncertain times a walk along the canal towpaths and the nature park at Shalford in Surrey have brought us calm. Seeing the beauty of nature and being out in the open air have been a lifeline for many,” she says.

“We have seen everyone from families with young children to older people thankful for the easy and flat walking, kayakers, paddleboarders, cyclists and horseriders, all enjoying the special feeling that being by the canal provides and importantly getting some respite from being at home and having some necessary exercise.

“The pandemic has showed that the restored canal brings a lot of people pleasure, both on and off the water, and we want to make sure that continues.”

Paddleboarders, canoeists and kayakers can take advantage of an annual pass to use the canal. Those who are not members of British Canoe need to purchase a licence to use the canal, which goes towards maintenance of the canal and landing stages. A licence costs £5 for a day or a special rate of £15 for an annual licence, allowing unlimited use throughout the year. To buy a licence go to:

Gill Davies
Monday, January 18, 2021
  • The number of canoeists, kayakers and paddleboarders on the canal hit a record high in 2020.
  • Towpaths have been in demand as the public discover the beauty of the canal for walking and cycling.