Although the formal objectives of the Trust cover the realm of the entire Bude Canal system and, indeed, canals and inland waterways generally, in practical terms the priorities of the Trust lie very much with the length of Bude Canal in its ownership, the Aqueduct branch.
Agreement with Devon County Council has meant that the towpath along most of the length of the Aqueduct branch, between Lower Tamar Lake and the Burmsdon aqueduct bridge, is a definitive public footpath. With a length of approximately 5 miles/8km, this is the longest single public footpath in Devon. However, the County Council’s responsibility extends only to the surface of the path and the Trust needs to ensure that its hedges, trees and other growth adjacent to the path do not encroach upon it. In practical maintenance terms, this is the Trust’s first priority.
The Trust’s Canal ownership continues for approximately 0.6mile/1km beyond the aqueduct bridge on the Cornwall side of the river. The towpath here is not a public footpath but access is allowed by permission of the Trust, although it is a dead end. Again, maintenance of this length is also a requirement.
In addition, the Trust wishes, and tries, to maintain and enhance the historic and nature conservation features along the route and to interpret and promote them to the public. The Trust has a list of specific works that it wishes to undertake on and around its length of the Canal to achieve these aims, and it is currently seeking grant aid for these works. Grant aid is being sought :-
a) to bring to a good state of repair the canal buildings, bridges and culverts along the Aqueduct section of the Canal;
b) to investigate and if possible undertake re-watering of short suitable lengths;
c) to make remaining boundary stones and milestones visible and, where appropriate, accessible;
d) to create access to enable the Burmsdon bridge aqueduct over the River Tamar to be seen and appreciated by the public;
e) to bring all adjacent hedges into good repair by appropriate management work, especially hedge laying;
f) to negotiate and provide access along a short adjacent length of the Holsworthy branch of the Canal and erect a bridge over the Aqueduct section to create a physical link to this length;
g) to produce and erect further appropriate on-site information and interpretation;
h) to produce and distribute appropriate written information and interpretation material in the form of leaflets, booklets, etc.
These aims will be dealt with as funding allows.
However, even if these works are completed, it must be emphasised that work will continue to be ongoing to ensure that standards of maintenance are kept to a high level and to look for further improvements in information, interpretation and other facilities.
In order to achieve its prioritised objectives, the Trust has adopted a Maintenance Plan which provides a framework in which to manage its property and assets. The Plan, which has been endorsed by all the Trust’s partners, will ensure that work will comply with relevant Health and Safety legislation, identifies a schedule of routine maintenance tasks, identifies new opportunities to enhance site maintenance and provides a framework within which maintenance tasks will be undertaken. It is anticipated this Plan will be updated on a yearly basis