19 delegates from Norway will be visiting the North West of England from 23-26 September to witness several of the region’s waterway attractions and to find out more about how Canal & River Trust, together with their partners and stakeholders try to increase visitor numbers and engagement with the general public.

The party is made up of tourism officials and others responsible for management and promotion of the Telemark Canal Regional Park. www.telemarkcanal.com. They are specially looking for these aspects:

  • How to balance the history and the current attractions and activities of a large and complex canal area
  • How to market internationally and attract foreign visitors
  • How to convey the canal history, and tourist information to the canal guests, preferably without ‘human guiding’ For example, how they convey the history and practical facts to the guests on the canal boats in a way that is interesting and helpful, without destroying the experience of history and tranquillity in the beautiful canal landscape.
  • How to engage volunteers? The Telemark Canal employs professional lock keepers, so it has to be in ‘other ways’.

They have a small friendship association Telemarkskanalens venner (Friends of the Telemark Canal) and 2-3 members of their board will take part in the visit. They produce a yearly magazine with very good articles about the canal history, and they have some engagement with groups to tackle the restoration of old technical equipment and some of the canal houses. They along with the rest of the group are keen to learn about what similar types of voluntary work the Canal & River Trust provide and how/if this can be replicated in Telemark.

The delegation will be staying in Chester and accompanied by Steve Higham and Danny Brennan (Chair of NIWE)

During the visit the group will visit Anderton boat lift the Cathedral of the Canals on the River Weaver, and take a Boat Lift Trip and River Cruise followed by “Walking the Lift” The group then travel from Anderton to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port – where the Shropshire Union Canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey. Whilst there they will take a tour of the site and be introduced to some Education Volunteers by Helen Evans (CRT)

Telemark delegation visit Canals and Rivers Trust

On Wednesday the group visit the World Heritage site, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal and will meet some more volunteers with Nicola Lewis Smith and Lynda Slater of the Trust

Before heading home on Thursday, the party will enjoy a relaxing Boat Cruise on Chester’s River Dee.

We will of course try to publicise the visit – so in addition to Canal & River Trust promoting what they do and their transition to becoming a waterways and wellbeing charity – will be stressing the role and importance of NIWE as a ‘facilitator’ of such exchanges and to kick-start co-operation in future European funding programmes.