Canal & River Trust prepares for further dry weather

THE Canal & River Trust is putting measures in place to prepare for the possibility of further dry weather.

June was the third driest month since records began in 1910 and the hot dry weather continued into July with most parts of the country seeing below average rainfall. The thundery rainfall that some parts of the country saw in the final week of July has not significantly changed the situation. With forecasters uncertain on rainfall patterns over the coming weeks the Trust is taking precautionary steps now to manage the possible effects of continued dry weather.

From August 13, the Trust will be locking gates overnight at certain targeted locks on the Grand Union and Oxford canals to minimise wastage through paddles being left open. Locking up the gates at the end of the day will protect reservoir levels and enable backpumps to recirculate water ready for the following days boating.

The Trust is also reminding boaters across the country about its water-saving THRIFT campaign. The campaign asks boaters to help conserve water by taking simple steps such as sharing locks, inviting oncoming boats through locks which are already set for them and, unless advised otherwise, making sure all gates and paddles are closed after use. Posters showing how boaters can help will be displayed in noticeboards and by locksides across the network.

David Baldacchino, head of operational support at the Canal & River Trust said: “It’s unclear how much longer the exceptionally hot and dry weather will continue so it’s sensible that we all take some simple steps to make best use of our water over the remainder of the summer.

“It’s quite possible that we may not see significant rainfall over the coming weeks and so we’re appealing to boaters to use water wisely and help us to protect the levels within our reservoirs.

“By adopting just a few simple common-sense steps – which many will already be doing – boaters can play a key role in helping us to manage the effects of the dry weather if, as looks likely, it continues through August.”

To prevent anyone using the locks CRT have taken measures at the top and bottom locks of each flight of locks. Here the rack from the gear that is used to open the gate paddles to let water into the lock has been removed. This is the bottom lock no 51 at Barrowford near Colne in east Lancashire.
photo:  Colin Wareing of Colin and Carole’s Creations.

To date the exceptionally dry conditions have been felt most keenly on waterways in the North West with the Trust announcing temporary closures on parts of the Leeds & Liverpool, Rochdale,  Huddersfield Narrow, Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals. The temporary closures will prevent boaters from using certain locks although they can still make limited use of lock-free sections. The canals can still also be used by anglers and canoeists and the towpaths will remain open for people – visitors and the local community alike – to enjoy.

To prevent anyone using the locks CRT have taken measures by putting chains and padlocks in place to keep the bottom gates on lock no 51 at Barrowford open. Photo:
Colin Wareing of Colin and Carole’s Creations.

A downloadable copy of the Trust’s navigation maps along with water management FAQs and a monthly Reservoir Watch can be found at


Details of the locks being closed overnight are below:


Canal Locks(s) Hours open
Leicester Line Watford 1 to 7 8am to 6pm

[last entry on the flight 5.15pm]
Leicester Line Foxton 8 to 17 8am to 6pm

[last entry on the flight 5.15pm]
Northampton Arm 1 to 17 9am to 6pm

[last entry on the flight 3.30pm]
North Oxford Hillmorton 2 to 7 9am to 6.30pm [last entry on the flight 5pm]
South Oxford Napton 8 to 13


8.30am to 6pm

[last entry on the flight 5pm]
South Oxford Marston Doles 15 +16, and Adkins 14 9am to 6pm

[last entry on the flight 5pm]
South Oxford Claydon 17 to 21 9am to 5pm
[last entry on the flight 4pm]