An exciting new project to encourage more boaters to visit the area via the Sleaford Navigation waterway has now been completed.
Called ‘Destination South Kyme’ - the project by Sleaford Navigation Trust was to improve the waterway in the hopes of attracting more boaters and canoeists from the River Witham - boosting the rural tourism economy.
In addition, it is hoped that festivals and other waterways events can be held in the South Kyme village area.
The work, boosted by a £25,000 grant from Kesteven’s LEADER funding, has seen the installation of two landing stages and information boards about the history and significance of the navigation.
Chris Hayes, chairman of the trust said: “The focus was to encourage more boats to visit the village, promote rural tourism in the area and direct people to other related places of interest such as Navigation House and Cogglesford Mill in Sleaford. We were delighted that the bid was successful and the main installation was completed last year.
“However, it was always accepted that, in order to encourage an increased number of visitor boats to the village, the trust would have to provide the opportunity for them to turn. This is not to discourage boats from travelling to the current head of navigation at Cobblers Lock but to accept that, for some, the restricted air draft at Ferry Farm Bridge, or problems with weed, could mean a long reverse back to Taylors Lock. Fear of that prospect might deter visitors to the navigation. For this reason, part of the project was the construction of a separately-funded winding hole or turning point above the village.”
The design also incorporates fish refuge and spawning areas, which were designed and funded by the Environment Agency. Financial assistance for the winding hole has also come from individual donors, the East Anglian Waterways Association and the Inland Waterways Association. Mr Hayes also thanked the land owener who offered ‘co-operation and support’ during the works.
She added: “It was great to see an impressive digger on site and preliminary excavation taking place at the end of May. Now that is completed, coir roll and matting will be installed by volunteers drawn from Sleaford Navigation Trust and the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust to provide the necessary environmental mitigation and enhancement.”
Sleaford Navigation Trust got to see the winding hole being tested during the works when a 50ft narrowboat sailed up from South Kyme.
“The crew were delighted to see the winding hole taking shape and decided to give it a try,” explained Chris. “With a bit of help from the digger driver who dug out a foot or two more, the boat was able to turn and the crew were therefore the first boaters to enjoy the benefit of the construction. Naturally the trust hopes they are the first of many and that the increased use of the navigation helps to make the case for further restoration into Sleaford.”
Now completed, the winding hole will accommodate boats up to 72ft long.