Le' Weekend

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Le' Weekend

We all know that the French are very protective of the purity of their language from its increasing Anglicisation. This is taken to the extent that a French language commission exists to adjudicate on changes to the language. This is in marked contrast to English where we create new words with almost alarming speed with the Oxford English Dictionary limping along behind. Of course we all know that the French have a very Gaelic disregard for government which is one of their redeeming charms and among the generally spoken French Le’ Weekend has come to be accepted as it is understood in England and America. Incidentally to reinforce this point since this article was originally written in 1991 Le’ Weekender is the name adopted for a longer lasting version of Viagra – language develops!

Weekend is of course a noun, and describes that period between Friday evening and Monday morning when we go in for rest and relaxation! Or work twice as hard as we did between Monday and Friday or do all the things that we enjoy and have worked all the week to be able to afford. The verb to weekend has some special meanings: to weekend with some one or some where, or in boating terms to move a boat from A to B over a weekend.

Weekending was developed by many boaters, who work Monday to Friday, to allow them to move their boat to different locations in the country beyond the reach of a two-week holiday. The problem is that when you start this process very little is written to help the first timer I hope that this short article will fill that knowledge gap.

There are at least three considerations, how far can I get in a weekend, where do I leave my boat, and how do I get back. How far can I get in a weekend, this is the proverbial how long is a piece of string. Counting 4 hours on Friday, 12 on Saturday and 8 on Sunday; this totals 24 cruising hours, at 4 lock miles per hour this gives a possible total of 96 lock miles. You may not wish to cruise for that long or you may apply a different rate of progress, but this total equates well with some of the weekend journeys we have achieved.  High Lane to Stafford Boat club - 86 lock miles, Stafford Boat club to Stourport - 87 lock miles, Wheelton Boat Club to Skipton 84 lock miles and Hebden Bridge to Stanley Ferry 80 lock miles.  If you make a three-day weekend of it you can of course go at a more leisurely pace or go further. For instance in 1998 we went from Coventry Cruising Club near Hawkesbury Junction to Dunstable CC near Marsworth Locks on the Grand Union a total of 114 lock miles in a long weekend.  The next point is one of stamina we have found that this is about what can be accommodated and be fit for work on Monday. If you intend to do this over several weekends remember that all the usual weekend jobs will accumulate and enthusiasm and energy will flag, so plan a weekend off after say two consecutive weekends boating.

Where do I leave my boat? Here you have three options leave it on the towpath or on an official long term mooring, leave it at a boat club or finally at a marina. The first is the most risky in terms of being broken in or vandalised, I have never used this option but it can be and is done. One person has said to me; have a good look around then go with your gut feeling about a place. Obviously, if there is a lock keeper or other people to keep watch then so much the better. The second approach we have used extensively and is much more secure. Here the key is AWCC membership which entitles us to reciprocal short term mooring, get an up to date listing from the quartermaster, and make arrangements by phone well in advance do not assume they will fit you in. A popular mooring eg Craven BC at Skipton gets booked up quickly.  These moorings are usually free for one or two weeks, but a donation and or some money spent over their bar is good policy.  Marinas again need to be contacted in advance and expect a charge, ask for an estimate. For my 30-ft cruiser I have paid £3.60 per day at Sharpness and £4.60 per day at Bristol Marina. Rates and availability usually depend on length and time of year.  It is important to make arrangements before you finalise cruising plans or you may be left stranded.

Finally how do you get home? Here there are two options own transport or public transport. If you combine with another couple and can take a car to the intended destination this is one solution but as you get further away from base this can absorb a larger proportion of the Friday evening. A rule of thumb is a weekend boating in a straight line from home is about an hour’s drive by car. This is fine if the distances are small or you are moving at a constant distance from base e.g. the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is always about 1-hour’s drive away from Manchester.

If you do not have the luxury of two cars or co-operative children then you have to use public transport. Here the train is preferable unless you have local knowledge. Local busses and National Coaches are a more difficult option to research in advance but a telephone hot line does exist. Trains have a national train inquiry telephone line and inquiry web site. Tickets can be booked via the web site. There is a good national service, even on a Sunday, provided you do not leave it to late. Connections at either end can be usually made by taxi whose rates are typically £1 per mile. For longer taxi journeys, especially if there are four persons involved, a long distance taxi is an option which may be cheaper than four rail fares, but this need to be booked and an estimate obtained in advance. Pubs, marinas and Boat clubs usually know of a local taxi firm but ask in advance don’t get stranded on a Sunday evening with everyone gone home. Finally the almost universal mobile phone is a indispensable especially in remote locations.

Using these principles Pat and I have in the last six years had holidays on the River Avon, the Kennet and Avon twice, and the Yorkshire waterways twice. once starting on the Rochdale Canal and once via the Leeds and Liverpool. We also visited London our adventures here were recorded in Waterways World of April 2000 under the title “A Twelve Counties Cruise” I hope these notes will help anyone contemplating this method of extending your cruising range and holiday. We use it to get the maximum value out of the cruising licence for which we all pay enough. When we get home after the holiday we feel that we have been out forever.


Noel and Pat Christopher.




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