Innovative canoe launches were officially opened at Ross on Wye and Kerne Bridge recently. The project, funded by the Advantage West Midlands Natural Assets fund through Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Wye Valley AONB Sustainable Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund and developed in partnership with Herefordshire Council, is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
The unique designs by EPD-UK offer better access for canoeists with disabilities. Although the canoe launches aren’t fully Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant they will allow more people with disabilities to get to the water and offer a safe and robust area for all who wish to savour the delights of canoeing this stretch of the River Wye.
As well as the major facelift, the launch sites have also had new interpretation boards erected detailing information about the sites. This interpretation reflects the two new publications designed for the project which are available to all canoeists and canoe hire operators. The first, an updated and colourful Canoeists Code of Conduct, will target all users of the Wye with information about how to use the river correctly and with regard to other users. The second, Perfect Paddling, is a waterproof guide to all the sections of the Wye with maps and useful information about the landscape, history and
heritage of the area. This is intended for canoe providers and designed to be placed in a waterproof pocket in each canoe to give the user a much richer experience whilst paddling along the Wye.
Dane Broomfield the Lower Wye and Herefordshire Land and Water Team Leader from the Environment Agency stated ‘”We are delighted that in line with our vision for navigation on the Wye, improved canoe access is being delivered by partner projects like this one. Working with these partners has been very rewarding. We hope these facilities will give the opportunity for a broader
cross-section of people the chance to enjoy the river and local environment”.
Chris Hawkesworth , the Planning and Facilities Manager for Canoe England praised the new launches
These new innovative access facilties on the Wye are the first anywhere in the country whereby disabled and able canoeists can take their craft to the water’s edge. Just passaging on the river between the two landings at Ross and Kerne opens up a whole new world for the disabled paddler. If these can be replicated elsewhere it would be fantastic and would enable paddlers of all abilities to enjoy the river environment. A great big well done to the Environment Agency, the Wye Valley AONB, Designer Andy Laird and to all concerned from Canoe England.
For more information or details about the two launch sites and how to obtain your copies of these publications please contact Andrew Nixon, Wye Valley Development Officer on 01600 710841. Email firstname.lastname@example.org