Canoeing by William Bliss 1934

Canoeing was William Bliss' second published book. Coming after Heart of England by Waterway it was quite a different book to all his others. As Bliss confesses in his preface, it is a guide book. However, he goes on to explain that it is a guide book with a difference. The difference being his research into all aspects and his strong desire to communicate the pleasure that rivers and canals have given him. The book is in two parts. Part I describes the canoes and equipment available , the techniques to be adopted, the characteristics of the waters, the camping equipment required and how to plan a cruise. Part II is effectively a "Bradshaws" canoeing guide being a list of canals and rivers that can be navigated by canal. Each waterway has a description of the waterway along with a table of distances. The book is completed by a very extensive map of all rivers and canals of England & Wales that can be navigated by canoe.

The book must surely have been a godsend to those keen to take up the pastime. In the forward AP Herbert points out how much a practical guide this is.

Table of distances for the River Usk

Part of the map of canoeable rivers and canals

Bliss undoubtedly travelled extensively by canoe or rowing boat along many naviagations, and I have no reason to doubt that most of what is in the book was well researched, however I did find his knowledge of the Grand Union in Buckinghamshire a little sketchy. He states that the Blisworth Tunnel was completed in 1780 (should be 1805) and he states that locally the aqueduct across the River Ouse at Cosgrove is known as the Tank or Pig Trough. I only know it as the Iron Trunk.

However, we shouldn't grumble about such issues. It is a great little book! So much information packed into it must have made it treasured by the canoeists of the time.

Part of the dust cover giving details of the book