The canals are reawakening after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:54 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:54 18 June 2020

Caen Hill Locks (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Caen Hill Locks (photo: Martin Ludgate)

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The waterways are gradually coming back to life after the Coronavirus related lockdown

The waterways are gradually coming back to life after the Coronavirus related lockdown, with the Canal & River Trust network reaching the third step of its staged return to use, and the Broads already back in use. But there are new arrangements at many of CRT’s staffed locks and other structures.

The Broads Authority (TBA), first off the mark following the Government’s first modest relaxing of lockdown rules, said it was in a “unique position” in that “Whilst other inland waterways face a delay in the return of powered private boats, the Broads is able to welcome boaters back because maintenance of the waterways has continued throughout the Covid-19 lockdown” – but said overnight stays on leisure boats were not yet allowed.

Despite TBA’s comments, the Canal & River Trust confirmed to Canal Boat that it had continued essential maintenance throughout, with its waterways kept open for essential traffic other than some specific locations such as Caen Hill Locks (pictured), while strongly discouraging other use. CRT’s staged return to general use began on 13 May with craft permitted to take short trips avoiding locks and staffed structures if possible. This was followed on 23 May by reinstatement of the need for boats without home moorings to move every 14 days (requiring them to move by 6 June). Finally, on 1 June CRT’s system was due to “reopen in full” (subject to no overnight stays for leisure boaters, pending changes in Government rules regarding holiday homes), but with extra restrictions on staffed structures:

Open certain days with booking needed: Harecastle Tunnel (Trent & Mersey), Tuel Lane Lock (Rochdale), Aldwark Lock (Sheffield & S Yorks), Frankton Locks (Montgomery), Brentford Thames Locks (Grand Union), River Weaver.

Open every day but restricted hours with booking required: Locks at Foxton and Watford (Leicester Line), Caen Hill (Kennet & Avon), Forge and Newlay (Leeds & Liverpool), Tinsley (Sheffield), all locks on the River Severn, and bridges on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.

Still closed until further notice: Anderton Lift, Standedge Tunnel.

Meanwhile the Middle Level opened up (except manned locks), and as we went to press, the EA hoped inspections and work on its rivers would allow a 1 June opening.

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