THE railways gave us trainspotters and the canals have produced “gongoozlers” – those who enjoy the simple hobby of watching canal boats and the operation of locks.
he word may have arisen in Lincolnshire dialect – gawn and gooze, meaning to stare or gape – but the pastime is as popular in Yorkshire as anywhere else.
And now a “gongoozling guide” has been produced to help those new to the hobby find their way around the 2,000 miles of waterways.
It contains 100 Hidden Gems of the waterways, a large chunk of them in Yorkshire.
The guide has been produced by the Canal and River Trust which is keen for everyone to become a gifted gongoozler.
The trust says that while most of us live within five miles of a waterway its list of 100 treasures are often “secret delights” which are waiting to be discovered by those not in the know.
A spokesman said: “The locations have all been chosen to introduce visitors to the secret delights of their local canal or river and encourage people to enjoy a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”
And in Yorkshire, the gongoozler is spoilt for choice.
“A ride through years of history at Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, absorbing the flora and fauna of the Pocklington Canal or ‘gongoozling’ as boats navigate the famous Bingley Five Rise locks all make the list in Yorkshire, with many other beauty spots and places of interest included to ensure there is something for everyone,” he said.
“Other hidden gem attractions in Yorkshire include Sowerby Bridge, Skipton, Saltaire, the Don Gorge at Sprotbrough and the Ripon Canal.”
The campaign to get the nation gongoozling has been backed TV presenter and mother-of-two, Miranda Krestovnikoff, who is encouraging families to discover their local canal.
She said: “I love visiting the canals and on a lovely sunny day there really isn’t a better place to be.
“From the huge variety of wildlife, to treating yourself to an ice cream or cool drink, it’s a fun, family place to enjoy the history on your doorstep without breaking the bank.”
Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust’s Yorkshire and North East region, said: “We’ve got some fantastic places of interest in and around Yorkshire which offer a variety of great family days out.
“The canals and rivers are wonderful places to visit during the summer and with so many people living within five miles of their local waterway it’s a really easy day out during the long summer holidays.”
The “gongoozling guide” to Yorkshire lists the following as ‘must-sees’:
Standedge Tunnel – the longest canal tunnel and designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.
Pocklington Canal – as renowned for its flora and fauna and it is for its swing bridges, classic hump-backed bridges and restored locks. Home to three Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Bingley Five Rise Locks – another of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, they are arguably the most awesome feature on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Features the steepest staircase locks on the longest canal in the country.
Saltaire – a textile village built on the River Aire and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Has World Heritage status.
Skipton – situated on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. With a Norman castle too, a popular market and canal boat hire.
Ripon Canal – overlooked by restored historic buildings, including a renovated warehouse. The canal is only 2.3 miles (3.7 km) long but the entire length has a canalside walk.
The Don Gorge area at Sprotbrough on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. A wildlife haven and popular for fishing.
Sowerby Bridge – once a major industrial centre which is now home to some trendy cafés, a waterside pub as well as Shire Cruisers – a boat hire firm on the Calder & Hebble navigation,
The trust is also launching a free mobile app called “Places to visit” to provide information on each destination. The app will be available in the app store and in Google Play along with info sheets at canalrivertrust.org.uk