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Thread: Access. Yes Mods, I'm putting it in General. it's a rant. Move it if you must.

  1. #1
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    Default Access. Yes Mods, I'm putting it in General. it's a rant. Move it if you must.

    I had some cat sitting to do, so to avoid death by boredom or cat allergies, I threw the boat on the roof of the car and figured I'd find somewhere to paddle. There wasn't any water in the rivers so I pulled up a map on the computer and looked around for some flat water nearby.

    Hetton Lyons Country Park looked promising, it's an old open cast site that's been landscaped and parkified, with a lake. It's not a huge lake, but it's a little bigger than a boating pond and would suit my needs perfectly. I google searched, deep enough to be past the photos by dog walkers and into results that weren't relevant to the park never mind paddling, and apart from Roker Canoe Club using the lake occasionally and Springboard Sunderland running the park for the local council, found very little info. Knowing there was a park office, I headed over.

    A nice lad at the office on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend said there wasn't a charge or any rules he knew of and as long as I didn't upset the wildlife I was welcome to use the lake, so I did. Quite a lot as it happens, 6 days over two long weekends, just messing about trying (unsuccessfully) to pull my sloppy stroke work back to the demo standard it used to be, a bit boring to some, but I'm a paddle nerd, so I enjoyed myself.

    Anyway, as I got the boat back to the carpark this afternoon, I was approached by two guys (I recognised them from somewhere but couldn't place where, probably the results of 16 years working in outdoor ed. with a terrible memory). As it turns out, you have to book the lake, you have to be a BCU member, you have to have insurance and it might be a problem being a lone paddler. I asked how much it was, they couldn't remember, but figures of 2 or 5 pounds were mentioned (OK, not a lot, but even if there wasn't a principle involved, it's too small a lake to charge a fiver). To be fair to them, they were super nice about it, they didn't try to retrospectively charge me or anything, but I was a little disappointed.

    Hetton Lyons is an old open cast site, it's owned by the council, effectively owned by the tax payer. I could understand a booking system for groups, the lake is big enough to handle a couple of big groups if they cooperated, but it would probably struggle to deal with 3, so a bit of organisation, and a charge if you are profiting from using the facilities seems reasonable. But here's the thing, I might have put on a bit of weight over the last few years, but I'm not a group, I don't take up that much space.

    Two of the days I was there, there were organised cycling events, quite big events. I'm sure they quite rightly booked the park or at least notified them, but plenty of people not involved in the events arrived with bikes and went cycling. OK the big race was quite serious with a lead motorcycle, so they had to take care to keep out of their way, but they were still welcome to cycle. The land based, group activity didn't stop people walking their dogs either, or walking without a dog, or having a little plodge in the lake, or bringing their rubber dingy and having a splash about with the kids, but as a paddler, who only saw one group with two inflatable rafts, and some kids with a rubber dingy using the lake in 6 days, things have to be done very differently.

    Some access issues I can see both sides of, it's two groups wanting to use the same space for conflicting activities and a compromise needs to be reached, but that's not this. You don't need to be a member of British Cycling to ride your bike in the park, you don't need to be a member of the Kennel Club to walk your dog, there's no booking system, there's no charge, there's no minimum group requirement, but if you want to paddle, 45 quid to the BCU, an as yet undecided fee to Springboard Sunderland, book in advance, show your insurance certificate and don't go alone, you might fall in and not be able to get back in the boat, then what would you do? (well, you'd stand up and wade to shore, it's not very deep).

    Besides anything else, even if it's only two quid, I don't want to book the lake for my exclusive use, it would seem a bit of a selfish waste of resources having it all to myself.

    Sorry about that, I needed a rant.
    The only thing you have to fear is Mergatroid the vengeful, man eating bear.
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  2. #2
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    The thing to consider is what are the consequences of NOT doing all that? What law would you be breaking and what enforcement action could they legally take?

    I suspect. None, none and stand on the bank shaking their fist, in that order. Assuming anyone considers it to be their job to stand on the bank shaking their fist, which I doubt.

    I have paddled on a similar thing, the nearby to me Talkin Tarn. It does have a canoe/small boat hire place on it. They charge 4 to go on but it took me over an hour to find someone who knew about this and could take my money and they certainly didn't look like they were going to be going out of their way to chase people round the lake. Even that charge would have been considered a little more worthwhile because it did give you access to a shower/changing room (with cold showers). They even charge swimmers to go on there (as I recall, 6 for that years coloured hat and the shower access codes).

    Nice loophole though. You can go on with a swimmer without paying, because it's safety innit? The irony of one council encouraging canoeists to go on their lake for safety reasons and another one saying they can't for the same reason is not lost on me.
    Last edited by stinkwheel; 5th-June-2018 at 08:55 AM.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  3. #3
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    The only problem with ignoring the rules is that I have to walk my boat past the park office door to get to the lake, I'm not a fan of confrontation. Oddly, I walked past the open door 12 times before someone got round to telling me I wasn't allowed on the lake.
    The only thing you have to fear is Mergatroid the vengeful, man eating bear.
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  4. #4
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    Recently down at work conference near Brighton so no boat of kit with me. Similar annoyance with hire company in Sussex - run by staff aged about 12. Very slowly moving water. Do you do walk up hire? Yes... SOTs and SUPs - notice some Canadians - do you hire open boats? Yes but only with instructor? Why? ... well you might get into difficulties.... such Actually I am quite competent ... sorry what if you capsize? very easy to climb back on SOTs. Me I could easily self rescue under these conditions hardly in danger of nasty pin (starting to get a bit p***** off - I am trying to give these numpties cash)have you not if you have fitted buoyancy..Unfortunately the other set of numpties (BCU this time) despite taking my money and prompted three times have still not sent membership with proof of insurance. So gave up - as far as I can see yet another example of .....
    Last edited by Seadog; 5th-June-2018 at 05:52 PM.

  5. #5
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    I can almost walk, portaging my canoe to a lovely little lake run by a local outdoor activities company. Their rules are now that anyone paddling on the lake has to be accompanied by a company instructor. I've checked and my latest BC Membership card has both coaching & leadership ticked. I can't understand why they might be expecting me to take time out of my nice leisurely paddle to rescue their instructors?
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  6. #6
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    I'm not sure what the BCU access campaign hopes to gain if it can't even get BCU affiliated centres to open up access to water they control.
    The only thing you have to fear is Mergatroid the vengeful, man eating bear.
    (and my youtube channel)

  7. #7
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    And in my naivety, when I recently came to open canoeing, I thought it enabled fairly spontaneous and anonymous escape. Wrong

    (Bring on Mergatroid!)

  8. #8
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    The access laws in this country reflect our NGB. Not fit for purpose. Too many people pay money to the them for nothing. I canoe throughout Europe and beyond. Only access issues and obsession with tickets is in the UK.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayne View Post
    The access laws in this country reflect our NGB. Not fit for purpose. Too many people pay money to the them for nothing. I canoe throughout Europe and beyond. Only access issues and obsession with tickets is in the UK.
    Forgive me..."NGB"?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by laurence milton View Post
    Forgive me..."NGB"?
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    Thank you...……….I am an old man

  12. #12
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    I could be wrong, but I think the BCU aren't interested in access rights on lakes, only rivers.

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  13. #13
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    I think the BCU aren't interested in access rights on lakes, only rivers
    The proposed wording in British Canoeing's access charter covers all water. I think it would be realistic to limit it to natural water bodies, ie, rivers and lakes, but not canals, gravel pits etc, artificial ww courses. I don't think it's reasonable that you can own land, but if you dig a hole and fill it with water it becomes public. The Scottish approach of access to all wild land & water also works; you don't have open access to a playing field, or by analogy a lake that's owned by a watersports centre (but a natural lake that happens to have a watersports centre on the bank is different). Going back to the OP, if the land around the water has public open access, the water should have, even if it's artificial.

  14. #14
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    The access laws in this country reflect our NGB. Not fit for purpose. Too many people pay money to the them for nothing. I canoe throughout Europe and beyond. Only access issues and obsession with tickets is in the UK.
    You've not had to negotiate with complicated access rules in Belgium, or the canal management jobsworths in France?

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