The great writing-up cruise!

March 13th, 2010

I am finally approaching the end of my PhD and thus have the delights of writing a thesis. Now, all available evidence suggests that this is a longwinded and possibly frustrating business and so I have hit upon an ingenious plan to keep myself on schedule and produce a report without going totally stir-crazy. I work better in the mornings, so my plan is to write in the morning (from about 8am until 1pm) and then move the boat down the river or canal for a few hours in the afternoon. My experience suggests that four hours is about as long as I’m prepared to drive the boat singlehanded, and this should give me some thinking time and relief from writing.

So, the plan is to leave Cambridge at the end of May and head off across the Fens to Peterborough. From there we go to Northampton and then down the Grand Union to London. In London we pass right through the city from west to east on the canals and join the Thames at Limehouse Dock before cruising upstream again. We carry on upstream as far as Oxford, where we join the Oxford Canal heading north to Banbury and then pick up the Grand Union again to head into central Birmingham. We carry on northward onto the Shropshire Union canal to Middlewich and then switch to the Trent & Mersey canal through the Cheshire salt fields. Now, assuming I can clear all the paperwork, I then hope to go down the Anderton Lift onto the River Weaver and then head on into the Manchester Ship Canal into central Manchester. From Manchester we then head east across the Pennines on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and then turn north again to visit York. On leaving York we head south again onto the mighty River Trent, which will take us to Nottingham. We leave the Trent and go on into the Soar, taking us to Loughborough and eventually Leicester. Hopefully at this point I should have a finished thesis to hand in to my supervisor and can then cruise slowly back to Cambridge…

Anyway, a full cruise plan (which will be updated regularly) can be found here. If I’m passing through your neck of the woods, please come to a canalside pub and say hello! At weekends I’m planning not to work on the thesis, and I hope to schedule my trip so that the more heavily locked sections of canal occur at weekends so that friends and family can come and help me. If you’d like to come and help, suggest times that are good for you or sections of the trip you particularly fancy doing, and I’ll add you to the schedule. Oh, and inevitably there’s also a Facebook group.