Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

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CaptainProg
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Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by CaptainProg » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:42 pm

First up, an admission that I've posted this same question on Stack Exchange. I'm writing here as well and will update both posts if/when an answer is provided. This forum seems an ideal place to find an answer to my question, as although it concerns swimming, I understand that the law surrounding river access is a hot topic for kayakers.
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Some of the rivers in England and Wales are designated as having a "Right of Navigation". I understand that this is typically interpreted as meaning that you can travel along it in a boat or vessel. I'm interested in knowing whether this also includes the right to swim along the river, so long as one is truly travelling along the river, rather than 'loitering'. I can find no mention that 'navigation' excludes swimmers.

Here is a list of rivers that fall under this category, and some further information. I'm ideally looking for an authoritative answer as swimmers frequently find themselves being shouted at by anglers who claim that swimming is not permitted. However, I cannot find any legislation to suggest that swimming is illegal along a river with a right of navigation. I would expect to both enter and exit the river from public land, just as a kayaker would.

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by Adrian Cooper » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:50 pm

It is interesting that the article states:

"The public have no general right to navigate on any river but a right to do so
may be acquired by immemorial usage, dedication of a private riparian owner
or under statute."

But then goes on to describe the circumstances whereby a right is granted on all rivers, starting with Magna Carta which enshrined the earlier common law and was reinforced by later statutes requiring the removal of obstructions to navigation.

At the turn of the first millennium and before there were very few established roads and track which could be used by the common man to transport goods to market or elsewhere so the rivers would have been the automatic route. Since the advent of better roads, it seems that these transport highways have been variously commandeered by their adjoining landowners for their own purposes. They must not be allowed to get away with it. In France you can see what their approach in 1789 yielded.

As to your question, I do not know if swimming can be interpreted as navigating in the same way as travelling by watercraft.

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DaveBland
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Re: Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:17 pm

Maybe depends on how far you swim. Technically I assume even a metre is 'navigating'.
dave

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morsey
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Re: Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by morsey » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:44 pm

Only two rules apply here:

1) No budgie smugglers
2) If you swim you gotta do a bootie beer.

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:49 pm

Navis is Latin for ship. So presumably navigating is travelling by ship. However, whereas we currently use the term for travelling along a river, I suspect this is a more recent usage, I recall it was not used in Magna Carta, 'passage' seemed to be the order of the day back then.

CaptainProg
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Re: Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by CaptainProg » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:08 am

See the accepted answer in the Stack Exchange version of this question: https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/ques ... navigation

There is no mention of the requirement for use of a vessel or boat in any of the legislation surrounding this issue, and any claims that such a vessel is required is only based on an assumption. The main issue is that very little of this appears to have ever been recorded formally. It looks as though - until the issue is clarified or tested in law - there is no precedent for swimming in a river with 'right of navigation' to be considered illegal.

Chris Bolton
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Re: Swimming in a river with 'right of navigation'

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:29 am

Have a look at http://www.riveraccessforall.co.uk/

As noted, it is legally complex, but be wary of statements about "access agreements". The situation in practice has changed significantly over the last 20 years and there are few access agreements for canoeing still operating.

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