William Bliss did not paddle the whole trail but it is talked of in ‘Solo & Duet’ by Sir John Squire, which is an account of a shorter canoe journey with the author published in 1938.


The introductory paragraph of Bliss’s earlier book (The Heart of England by Waterway) shows his concern for the decline of the waterways, now, thankfully reversed. It also shows his enthusiasm for the linking nature of the waterways.


'One by One our English Canals are becoming derelict; each lustre sees another go. Once upon a time, not so very many years ago, it was possible to travel all over England, north, south, east and west, by river and canal; there was not a county you could not visit, hardly a town you could not reach by water, if you liked and if you were not (and what lover of boats and rivers ever was or will be?) in any particular hurry to get there.' 

 

 

 

 

 


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. Each waterway has a description along with a table of distances. A very extensive map of all rivers and canals of England & Wales that can be navigated by canoe complete the volume. 
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 of a practical guide William had written.

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