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Canal Weekend

September 24 @ 5:00 pm - September 26 @ 5:00 pm


Canal  Weekend 

Friday/Sunday 24th/26th September. A weekend on narrowboats on the Grand Union Canal. You learn to steer the boat and work the locks. Badges awarded: Scouts Power Coxswain; Explorers Water Activities. Transport included. £80 There are 16 places on this course.  (A course for leaders is run in February & March.)  For water activities Scouts must be able to swim 50 metres in clothing and keep afloat for 5 minutes (POR Rule 9.42a) Application form  Please do not pay yet in case we have to cancel the weekend due to covid restrictions. We will let you know when to pay.


Read what we did last tim

The first weekend of October saw Gloucestershire’s annual Scout and Explorer Canal weekend.

On arrival at the boathouse near Harefield, to the West of London on the Grand Union Canal, the 14 Scouts and one older Explorer were introduced to the Leader Team, and allocated to their boats for the weekend – Pisces and Merlin of Hillingdon Narrowboats. Although most came for Gloucestershire, some Scouts joined us from Birmingham, and the Leaders came from Gloucestershire, Birmingham, Hampshire, and London.

An initial briefing about boarding, being on the boats and sleeping arrangements was followed by fitting of the lifejackets, on the understanding that these were to be worn on the outside of any clothing when the boat is moving, and when moving personal gear onto the boats. With the kit stowed in the bunks and most had changed out of their uniforms, a bit of training and discussions useful for the weekend activities was done over supper of hot dogs, as well as planning the remain meals, before bed.

The next morning after another briefing, we headed North on the canal, with a thorough Lock Briefing at the first lock taken a couple of leaders who were being reassessed for renewal of their national boating qualification, the CCBM.

The Scouts and Explorer then took it in turns to Steer the boats, in team operate the locks, cook the meals, wash up, and learn about the canal system for their Power Coxswain (Scouts), or Water Activities (Explorer) badge.

We stopped at Tesco on the side of the canal to buy the remainder of the food we needed, and cruised, with lunch and breakfast in shifts on the move, filling both boats with water from a Water Point on the towpath, and finally mooring at Apsley, just outside Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire.

Dinner had been prepare and was ready soon after we moored just as it was getting dark – Carbonara with Eton Mess on Merlin, and tagliatelle and crumble on Pisces.

Some more discussions about canals, narrowboats, and some games were had on each boat, before a quiet bedtime.

The next morning everyone was up bright and ready to go. Now heading down in the locks gave the added concern for those steering to keep clear of the cill – the lower edge of the upper part of the canal. Had the boat been above the cill when the water level changed, the front of the boat would continue to go down without the back, which could sink the boat…there were no issues.

By the time we arrived back at the Boathouse, everybody had steered and taken a good part in crewing the boats, so when the gear was taken off the boats, boats swept and mopped through, the badges were awarded…Power Coxswain, Advanced Power, and Water Activities Instructor.

My thanks to all of the Team for all their input and guidance, and everyone there for making a great weekend.
Paul Huntley
County Badge Team, Glos & GLMW Scouts / County Narrowboat Advisor & Assessor, GLMW Scouts / Training Officer, Hillingdon Narrowboats Association



September 24 @ 5:00 pm
September 26 @ 5:00 pm


Grand Union Canal
United Kingdom


County Badge Courses