Friday 22 November 2019

Exploring the Aylsham Navgation

Canoe trip down the Aylsham Navigation
November 2019

I spent much of my adolescence messing about on the River Bure near my home village of Coltishall in Norfolk. If I wasn't swimming in it I was fishing, sailing or canoeing. 

One way or another I always seemed to find myself somewhere near the river, and often on the reaches above Coltishall Lock which comprised the Aylsham Navigation, before it was washed out in a huge flood in 1912.

I have always fancied making a canoe trip along the old navigation and a few weeks ago I have the opportunity to do just that, accompanied by my son Dan.

We sent a day travelling from Aylsham to Coltishall in a canoe rented from The Canoe Man, taking advantage in a small window of opportunity when the river level subsided enough to make the passage possible.

I took my trusty GoPro with me and made thee videos of the trip into which I have woven an account of its history, along with my recollections of life on the river in the 1970's.

For those of you without a YouTube account her are three links to the videos:


Andy said...

Excellent documentary and presentation Andy.

Dave Ward said...

Fascinating series, Andrew. Having lived in the area all my life I'm familiar with the places you've featured, although mostly from the ground or above it, in the microlight I used to fly. The names of Neaves & TC Fines the butcher immediately rang a bell, and although Coltishall bridge may have been re-built to cope with future flooding, they obviously didn't consider how much road traffic it would end up carrying today!

I have a distant memory of launching from the very spot at Mayton - where you pictured the canoe - in a small inflatable. However my "navigating" only lasted a couple of minutes before I caught a sharp flint under the water. The rapid loss of air meant an equally rapid return to terra firma...

Andy Tidy said...

Andy - glad you liked it.
Dave - its an area which holds a lot of memories for me. I assume the aerodrome had closed before you took to the skies?

Dave Ward said...

"I assume the aerodrome had closed before you took to the skies? "

Actually, no. I got my licence in 1991 (I think it was - now I'll have to go up in the roof, and dig out my log books!). Coltishall was still operational with Jaguars, and the Air Sea Rescue Wessex, and I have landed there (with permission) twice. The Norwich Airport approach controller used to sit alongside the military bods to co-ordinate the overlapping circuits when they were both flying, and I used to speak to them regularly.

Now it's just a business park and massive solar farm, although there is a small aircraft company trying to get permission for test and delivery flights. I have (very distant) memories of being taken there as a young child to one of the airshows, and being thoroughly terrified when a bunch of Lightnings came past with full afterburners, and then made their legendary near vertical climb into the sky...

Andy Tidy said...

I remember the air shows as well - massive events with the memorial flight and the Vulcans too. I particularly remember the Lightenings in intercept duty in the cold war skimming down the runway and then, as you say, flipping to near vertical on . after-burners. The noise from the crash gates was immense.