Water Chariots, a UK-based boat service, is offering a canal boat service for visitors to the UK for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The company is the official 2012 Games Canal Boat operator, and is offering 12 canal boats in a scheduled service, and 18 sloop boats available for charter.
Water Chariots is offering departures from Limehouse Marina and Tottenham Hale, and travel via the River Lea, for the closest entry to the Olympic Park, which also hosts the Olympic Stadium and VIP hospitality area. Passengers will also be able to access hospitality areas at the departure points, which include entertainment and food venues.
Peter Coleman, the founder of Water Chariots, said, ‘I read about the millions of people expected to come to London for the Games and knowing the canals, thought that had to be the best way to get there.
I want to help make the day one of the most memorable in people’s lives. Our passengers will be the first people in history to arrive at an Olympic Games by canal boat. We will also be offering champagne, food and music to add to the experience. I want to bring Henley on Thames to the East of London.’
British Waterways, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the Olympic Delivery Authority have together funded the infrastructure for the canal boat service.
Mark Blackwell, of British Waterways, said, ‘The waterways in the East End have been transformed, with over 5.5km opened up for the first time in 50 years. It’s fantastic that people will be able to enjoy them during the Olympics and in legacy. The canals and rivers are the lifeblood of London, a wonderfully serene and practical green route through a large and congested city.’
Britain’s holidaymakers may have to alter their summer itineraries, as British Waterways, a UK government navigation authority for England, Scotland and Wales, may restrict the use of certain waterways and canals.
The canals and waterways are facing severe drought conditions, and the authorities have been forced to restrict water transportation on around 245 miles of its national network, with partial or total restriction of the waterways in places.
For holidaymakers, this may translate into changes in summer water cruise itineraries, with areas of Britain’s scenic waterways being blocked across the Midlands and the south. While the authorities have restricted traffic in some areas, certain places may be closed completely. Areas affected include parts of the Grand Union Canal, which links London to Birmingham, including the Leicester Line, and the Northampton and Aylesbury arms; as well as parts of the Oxford Canal in Warwickshire, and the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Bath, Somerset.
Tim Parker, chairman of the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO), an association of companies offering transportation on navigable canals and rivers in Britain, said, ‘The boating trade is pleased that British Waterways has put in place the plans to help protect water supplies and in turn our customers canal holiday and boat trips. Around the majority of the inland waterways network it is business as usual as the industry prepares for the boating season; water supplies are adequate and no overnight closures are envisaged across the vast majority of the network. APCO’s pleasure boat operators have experienced some extraordinary years with water supply difficulties before.’
The water shortages will also impact on the growing numbers of people who live on the waterways permanently. There are approximately thirty thousand boat owners in Britain, and more than one thousand- eight hundred boats available for hire.
Two dry winters in a row are blamed for the current stringent water restrictions.