Forecasts for heavy rain at the end of June failed to deter a small flotilla of boats from casting off from Pulborough, in West Sussex, with the crews determined to show once again that the Arun is navigable as far as Pallingham Quay. As it happened, the day remained dry which made this successful trip even more enjoyable.
The boats were launched on the River Arun at Pulborough on Saturday, 22 June with the aim of
reaching Pallingham Quay, the highest point navigable by boats on the Arun.
The Wey & Arun Canal joins the river just downstream of Pallingham Quay. The aim of this annual event is to ensure that, when restoration of the Wey & Arun Canal is completed, there will be no legal reason why boats cannot venture from the canal into the Arun. These cruises were started by the Inland Waterways Association in around 1983 with the Wey & Arun Canal Trust taking over in 2011.
While waiting for the incoming tide to rise, boat crews enjoyed refreshments from the tea room at the Old Corn Store Emporium next to the river at Swan Bridge but by midday the five boats and crews
plus nine canoes were heading upstream towards Pallingham.
All but one boat and all the canoes reached Pallingham Quay. The group then explored the nearby stretch of the canal before heading back to Pulborough, completing the trip in three and a half hours.
Wey & Arun Canal Trust expedition leader Brendan Whelan said: "Everyone enjoyed themselves and once again we showed that it is still possible to take small boats to the head of the river".
"Although the trip was a month later than normal, we had no problems with weed but there were a number of places where it was difficult to squeeze past the trees. However, unlike in many previous years, I didn't need to use my bow saw."
The annual navigation event plays the vital role of proving that navigation rights continue to be exercised. When the canal is reopened it will once again be possible to travel from London to Arundel and Littlehampton along rivers and the Wey & Arun Canal.