Waterway project secures funds

South Kyme boat gathering and scarecrow competition EMN-180603-110729001
South Kyme boat gathering and scarecrow competition EMN-180603-110729001

A project to enhance the River Slea for pleasure boaters is on course with the securing of new funding from the EU.

Sleaford Navigation Trust has just announced it has signed paperwork confirming £34,000 for its project - Destination South Kyme - under the Kestevens LEADER Fund, a pot of cash for schemes supplied by the EU.

Chairman Chris Hayes revealed the good news at a public meeting to hear about projects to improve the river held at Sleaford Town Hall last Tuesday.

Mrs Hayes said: “Destination South Kyme will see the creation of two landing stages in the village to encourage temporary mooring by visiting boats.

“While both will be accessible to narrow boats and smaller cruisers, one will be at a lower height to facilitate canoe access. Awareness that there is safe mooring without having to resort to the use of a gangplank will help make the Sleaford Navigation and South Kyme an attractive diversion and stopping off point for boats travelling along the River Witham, and help to make more people aware of the Navigation.”

An easily accessible path to the landing stages will provide the facility for local residents and visitors to get closer to the water.

Secretary Steve Hayes added: “We want to make the lower section of the River Slea much more usable for boats.”

The funding also allows for a series of interpretative boards making visitors aware of the heritage of the waterway, which brought trade and prosperity to Sleaford in the 18th century. Information will also help visitors to explore South Kyme and link to other locations of historic importance, including Sleaford Museum, Navigation House and Cogglesford Mill.

The project has been broken down into two parts. A separately funded ‘winding hole’ in partnership with the Environment Agency dug into the bank nearby will allow boats to turn around, rather than having to reverse back to Bottom Lock or have a potentially difficult trip up to Cobblers Lock.

The design of the winding hole has been modified to include a shallow berm that will provide a protected area for fish to spawn in the river and increase fish stocks.

The installation of the landing stages and bank strengthening work further along at Chapel Hill will mean the South Kyme Boat Gathering will not go ahead this year.

Mr Hayes said the next project will be to find funding to run a trip boat along the river between Eastgate Green and Cogglesford Mill in Sleaford to boost leisure visitor numbers in the town.

He said: “It would not be a big boat - probably carrying about 12 people.”