what is "The Cut" ?

The Cut is a slang or friendly name for the Inland Waterways of the United Kingdom, or to be more precise the Canals. Its origin is because the canals were CUT (mostly in the 1800's) by Navies (derived from the posher name Navigators). The were originally cut for commercial reasons - in other words to carry goods.


How can they be used ?

There are unlimited ways to use them - the phrase limited only by your imagination comes to mind. A list of some of them are shown below.

Either read the whole page or point to and click on the items above to go to the part of your choice.


Links on to other places on the Internet
Probably the best site on the internet relating to the cut ! - if it does not contain what you are looking for, it will have a link to somewhere that does!
www.canals.com - God bless George Pearson !

A page of links that I created some time ago

A society that I try to support - I do know that there are losts of others, equally worthy I am sure


Walking at the side of them
I have done some of this, it is really relaxing, enjoyable, never the same twice, a brilliant place to dump stress and inhibitions. There are canals in all manner of places, cities, towns, villages - in industrial areas, in quiet country areas - everywhere. You can look and admire, look and smile, look and laugh out aloud or switch on remote control and just walk and think. An incredibly large proportion of the waterways have Towpaths - you can walk on them.

A remarkable thing is that the journey is mainly on the level - think about it, you cannot have sloping canals, the water would all pile up ath the bottom     !! The only time that the level changes is at locks. This makes walking real easy !!


Floating on them
There are several reasons for doing this (you will note that I say floating rather than sailing - sailing may be correct, but it always seems to grand to me). Some of the reasons for floating are shown below. One of the things that will really hit you and impress you on the Cut is the old fashioned friendlyness and comradeship. There is and will always be help and advice on hand.

It will surprise you, but fitness will creep up on you. A friend of mine told me about a chap in his late 60's to whom he sold a boat. That chap was visiting a Physiotherapist to try to cure a lack of mobility. Two years later my fiend was invited to the chaps birthday party - he was very surprised and pleased to see a very nimble fit man. When he enquired about the Physiotherapy, he was told "the Physio told me that I did not need to attend any more, he said that he didn't know what I had done with my life, but that it had cured me"

I know that for my own part that when I sail for a week or fortnight, when I come back, I am still fat but I am also a million time fitter - honest guv !!

It is also muchly relaxing - stop the world, I want to get off - this is one way to do it. It can be your own personal Desert Island.

Let me dispel the illusions that Narrowboats are basic.
They have good beds - made the same way as your beds at home.
They have full sized cookers.
They have real proper fridges.
They have water flush loo's.
They have showers.
They have hot and cold running water.
They have electric lights.
If you want it, they can have TV and Radio.
In other words all mod cons !!!

They are easy to drive - point them and go. (The speed limit is four miles per hour.) - Soldiers march at four miles per hour.

It is easy not to drown in the cut - just stand up - not may cuts are more than three foot deep !


For pleasure, pure and simple.
To do this, you will need a boat and maybe somewhere to keep it.

You could buy a boat - but, if you have never been on a boat on the cut before it would really be good sense to hire one first to confirm that you like it (beware though, 'cos once you try it, the chances are very very high that you will be "hooked").
You can find details of places that hire boats in the monthly canal magazines - buy one and see.
My list contains some links to Boat Hirers.

Normally the minimum hire perion is a week - but - some places will let you hire for the weekend.

If you like it and it is for you, you could just carry on hiring when you want to. One of the advantages of this is that you can easily visit different canals all over Britain.

On the other hand, you may wish to buy your own boat. That is good too. There are several types of boat that you might want to consider. Some are shown below:-

If you are going to buy a boat, I would seriously recommend that you look for a second hand boat before you have a new one built for you. If you go straight into the newly built boat, unless you have done quite a bit sailing boats on inland waterways, you will be guided by the boatbuilders advice. I am not suggesting that boatbuilders would deliberately lead you astray. However a boat is something very personal, you need it how you want it. "Marry in haste, repent at leisure".

I would seriously suggest that you buy a second hand one first and use it for a few months and form your own opinions about what you want. If you buy carefully and look after it, you should be able to sell it after a few months for nearly the same price as you paid for it.

When you are buying a boat, get a Professional Boat Surveyor to survey it for you. Do not simply accept what the seller tells you (or a well meaning friend that is unqualified). If you are daft enought to just buy as seen, be sure that you can afford to loose the amount that you pay for it.
Be aware that you will need an "out-of-water" survey. Any fool can form a considered opinion of the part above the water, below the water is where the problems may occur.
You might want to compare the differences in cost and what you get for your money for a full and underwater only survey. Ask the surveyors advice on this matter.

You might like to know that around 70% of the folk I have taken for a ride on boats that I have owned or hired, have become Inland Waterways boating fanatics !! There is nothing else quite like wandering down the cut at three miles an hour on a narrowboat.


Steel boats
These divisions for types of boats may be a bit unclear, it is just how I see them. I see the steel boats falling into two categories. Narrowboats and Wideboats.

Narrowboats are normally a nominal seven foot wide - usually a bit smaller (a couple of inches - ish). The lengths range from 25 foot to 70 foot. For a family of up to four folks, a 40 foot boat would normally be OK. 70 foot boats are great but a little bit more attention is needed to drive and to manuever them.
There are two main types of canals in the UK - narrow and wide (three if you include water like the Manchester Ship Canal, that is very wide     ) Narrow Canals acommodate boats up to seven foot wide and Wide Canals up to fourteen foot.
Turning a boat around on the cut is normally called Winding (the Wind bit is pronounced as in blowing - not as in turning an handle). On wide canals, with 40 foot boats, you are not usually more than a couple of miles of a place to wind - with longer boats, you could have to travel quite a few miles to special turning points (called Winding Holes).
In many years on the cut, I have never had the occasion to take my own boat on a narrow canal, although I have been on them in other folks boats. So there is nowhere that I have been that I could not have been in a wide boat.

Wide boats (in my mind anyway) are of the same general form as a narrowboat, but are between 7 and 14 foot wide. In other words a narrowboat stretched sideways !! When I see boats that are around 8 foot wide, I scratch my head and wonder why they did not go the whole hog and go to nearer 14 foot. Wide boats are even more wonderful that narrowboats - in my 'umble opinion anyway !!

Folk in the know will say that there are other types of boats built of steel such as Dutch and other Barges - they are mentioned below.


Wooden Boats


Plastic Boats.


Dutch and other Barges
I am afraid that I do not know much about Dutch Barges. They are generally built of steel. They are big and wide. They look nothing like a narrowboat. The were not designed for use on the UK cut. They look more like a ship than a narrowboat. They are majestic !!
For a better and an authoritative description, visit the Dutch Barge Association web site
The barge Reliance is a lovely looking vessel - just what I picture a dutch barge on the UK cut looking like !!


Other Types


As a place to live


To get from a to b


To get from a to b


For advertising


Fishing on them
I do not know anything about fishing, on the Cut or anywhere else. However it must be good, lots of folk do it.


Painting or Photographing them


Working on them


Doing voluntary work on them