It was a bank holiday tailback to rival the worst snarl-ups on the M25, but this was waterway rather than highway congestion. Four hundred and thirty narrowboats stretching three miles were moored up along the Lea Valley as part of the National Waterways Festival.

Crews came from all over Britain to congregate at Waltham Abbey for the bank holiday event, run by volunteers. It raises funds to restore the 3,500 miles of canals. It took some weeks to get there - with a top speed of four knots, just over 4mph, the 300-mile trip from Manchester would take a minimum of two weeks.

The festival, last held in London five years ago, is the world's biggest inland waterway event, although some visitors - 400 caravan owners - preferred to keep to dry land.

Other attractions included a boat show, craft fair, folk dancing, a virtual-reality quasar and a sky rider - a reverse bungee jump which hurls people up into the air at 120mph.

The longest queue was at a similar festival in Manchester in 1988 which attracted 900 narrowboats. It stretched for more than six miles.

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