We have announced that some canal stretches and lock flights in the north of England which have been closed during the dry weather are able to reopen.
Specifically, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Gargrave (below lock 30) to Newlay on the edge of Leeds (above lock 13) will be available for boaters to use within set opening times as the river-water feeds they draw have improved.
Boaters will once again be able to use locks at Bingley Five Rive and Bingley Three Rise. Passage down in the morning will be between 10am and 12pm. Passage up in the afternoon will be between 1pm and 3pm. Boat movements will be managed on a first come first served basis by lock keepers.
Elsewhere, the eastern side of the Rochdale Canal has also been responsive to recent rainfall and is subsequently able to reopen between locks 1 and 34. Overnight closures will be in place between locks 5 and 13 with navigation possible between 9am and 4pm every day.
Tuel Lock flight will return to normal operation. The canal between locks 34 and 48 will remain closed while water supplies recover and the Trust carries out repairs to reduce water leakage through the locks.
Next week we are trialling a partial reopening of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, opening selected locks to boaters booked to go through Standedge Tunnel on Wednesday 5 September. The situation will then be reviewed to see whether such an opening can be offered on a weekly basis.
Water resources on the Lancaster Canal have also started to recover and the Glasson flight is now available for boaters to use between 8am and 2pm each day. We have also been providing opportunities for boaters to make their way across the Ribble Link.
We will closely monitor the reopened sections and the impact of increased boat usage on water resources. All other closures on the northern network will remain in place until the water resource position improves.
Further south, on the Oxford Canal, which has not benefited from much recent rainfall, we are reducing the opening times at selected locks to further protect reservoir levels. From September 10 locks at Napton (locks 8-13) and Marston Doles (locks 14 – 16) on the North Oxford will be open between 10am and 4.30pm (last entry on the flight 3pm). On the South Oxford locks at Claydon (locks 17-21) will be open between 10am and 4pm (last entry on the flight 3pm). These precautionary measures should allow time for all boat traffic to travel through these sections whilst providing maximum time for water levels to recover overnight.
Whilst the position is improving in some places we are warning boaters to remain vigilant across the network to conserve water, with its water-saving THRIFT campaign still in place. 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.
Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at the Trust said: "The recent rainfall has given a slightly improved picture in some parts of the north and it’s good news that some sections have reopened so boaters can enjoy those parts of the network.
"It’s a welcome respite in what has been an exceptional and challenging summer for water supplies, and we’re pleased that boaters on these sections can get on the move once more.
"Of course, whilst this is certainly a gradual step in the right direction we are some way from a complete recovery and the situation remains very sensitive to future rainfall. We know that if exceptionally dry conditions were to return then we may unfortunately have to review things again. We’re also conscious that not all sections of canal have responded to the recent rainfall in the same way, and we’d like to thank those on the sections still closed for their continued patience.
"We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and if other practical opportunities arise to reopen sections of canal then we will do that. In the meantime it’s imperative that we all continue to make the best possible use of the water available to us and so we’re again asking boaters to help by using water carefully."
A downloadable copy of the our navigation maps along with water management FAQs and a monthly Reservoir Watch can be found at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/specialist-teams/managing-our-water.