CANOEING and kayaking on the Wey & Arun Canal has been made easier with the installation of two new landing stages.
Inexperienced paddlers in particular will now find the waterway at Loxwood in West Sussex more accessible.
The stages have been built using a generous grant from Canoe England, which is part of British Canoeing, the national governing body for paddlesports in the UK.
They are next to the Drungewick slipway and near Drungewick Lock, at the southern limit for navigation on the canal to the east of Loxwood village.
The new facilities were installed by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust (WACT), which welcomes canoeists, kayakers and paddleboarders by arrangement on navigable sections of the canal in West Sussex and Surrey.
Trust volunteer engineer Brian King collaborated with Canoe England to design the landing stages, which are made of oak with stainless steel fixings and an anti-slip surface.
Brian is now working with Canoe England to select other sites for upgraded landing stages to further improve the experience for paddlers.
“The canal is for everyone who enjoys the countryside and we are keen for canoeists, kayakers and paddleboarders to use our restored sections in West Sussex and Surrey,” said WACT chairman Sally Schupke.
“As well as the Loxwood section, more than a mile of canal on the Summit Level between Alfold and Dunsfold in Surrey will soon be available and we welcome paddlers who want to have a day out there.”
Members of Canoe England and British Canoeing can use the canal free of charge, but must notify the Trust when they intend to visit. Others can purchase an annual licence for £15 or a day licence at £5 online via the boat licences page at www.weyarun.org .
Group rates are available for organisations such as the scouts and sea cadets.
All visits must be arranged in advance to avoid congestion, and all paddlers must book in at the Canal Centre, off Loxwood High Street before setting out on the waterway.
Another upgrade on the canal at Loxwood has been the replacement of the balance beams which open the gates at Baldwins Knob Lock.
The lock was restored for navigation in 1993 and its gates have been used continually for boat trips for 23 years. The four beams were reaching the end of their lifespan, with the start of internal rot found during a survey.
Specialist carpenters installed new beams, which are currently unpainted as the wood seasons in place.