The Story so far
I contacted Jim Barber the National Trust Head Ranger in the autumn of 2012. He seemed rather concerned about the unlawful weirs the fishermen had erected over the past 100 years. I informed him that funding for combined fish/canoe passes was available. He said he was consulting widely. I have not heard anything from him since even though I did offer to meet him for informal discussions.
On the 14th of February 2013 he received a Common Law Notice asserting the public right of navigation by recorded delivery. He has failed show legislation or exercise of statutory powers that may have extinguished the PRN so as matter of fact it still exists and Dovedale and Wolfscote Dale are open for canoeing from the 14th March 2013.
Show to police if you have to call them to an incident.
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Notice to all canoeists and fishermen
A public right of navigation means that the river is a public place. So, any behaviour that would be unlawful in the street is also unlawful on the river. Please do not let yourself get talked into any silliness that could get you before a magistrate.
Fishermen, you are not under attack. The EA says that canoeing does not disturb fish or damage fish stocks. Navigation is the superior right so you must give way to canoes. On the other hand, there is evidence that salmonids are induced to feed by the passage of a canoe. If the fish are sulking, the best place to drop a fly is 3metres behind the last canoe.
Canoeists, if a fisherman is landing a fish, it is good manners to hold back and give him time to enjoy his sport. Canoeists should give fishermen a wide berth since they may have equipment in the water that you can not see. If you accidentally get too close an immediate apology is in order.
If everyone observes the common courtesies, we can avoid unfortunate incidents that could spoil someone's day.
The National Trust has now responded to the common law notice in an e-mail dated 28/03/2013 It is mostly misleading waffle. A copy annotated with my comments can be found HERE