Thursday, 15 March 2012

Trapped in the Fens?

As most boaters know, there are severe water shortages on the canals, especially on the Grand Union, where the Tring Summit has been shut for weeks, and will only be opening for restricted access at the end of this month. All the details of the stoppages are at

However, there is one that matters to us even more than the rest. The Northampton Arm. Our link to the canals, our one route out of the Fens. But it looks like travelling that route is going to be very difficult this year. According to the stoppage details below, it will only be open for specific weekends dependent on water availability. 

Our style of cruising depends upon long days and unrestricted 'out-of-hours' access to locks. This year, flying down to London in 9 days the way we did last July is not going to be possible. I am just hoping that wherever we buy our new boat, if indeed we do buy one this year, we are able to get it back to the Fens!

Stoppage: Grand Union Canal Northampton Arm Locks 1-17

13 Apr 2012 until further notice
Associated Regional Office: South East Waterways
From Friday 13th April, 3.00pm, the Northampton Arm will be closed to navigation.
The Arm is proposed to open for through traffic at specific weekends – the following period of opening has been confirmed with Northants IWA ; 3rd May (10.00am) to 8th May (3.00pm), when traffic will need to have cleared the Arm. Further openings to be advised, dependent on water availability.
(Enquiries: 01908 302 500)

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  1. A lot of continous cruising bloggers were planning to avoid the canal water shortages by 'doing' the Fens. I always thought that the Northampton Arm would be their undoing. We may see a mad dash to get through that week.
    I think we are all in quite a bit of trouble this year :-(
    Kath (nb Herbie)

    1. Sounds like most will be coming through sooner rather than later from what I've heard.

  2. We were planning a quick spring dash down the GU before the water ran out. Spend some time near Northampton (Where I was born) then over to the Oxford. I think that is a full house of restrictions. Looks like a summer heading North.

  3. I grew up near Tring. I never knew it was so vital.

  4. What a mess some parts of the system are in, makes you wonder how they coped in the working days. Perhaps they had more technical knowledge then than we do now! It was vital that the canals stayed open so investment was necessary. These days even the roads are falling apart.. Wish it could be less gloomy!


  5. Hmm. Ice in the winter, drought at other times. No wonder railways were so successful!