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Navigation Notes

CRT Contact details

Urgent matters - telephone 0303 040 4040
Reporting issues - On-line form
Twitter - @CRTcontactus

CRT Regional Offices

East Midlands 
London and South East 
North West
South West
West Midlands
Yorkshire & North East

Cruising guides

The River Trent and River Ouse charts (AKA 'Sissons' after the original author) are available - ask the Boating Association
Skipper's Guides are available as .pdf from these links:  TrentAire & Calder

Navigation Issues 


  • Bidford Bridge on the River Avon, at only about 13' 9" wide,  is the river's 'pinch-point', do not attempt to go through breasted.  The locks are at least 14' wide, and some of those on the Upper Avon are significantly wider, and this can lull visiting crews into a false sense of security. 

Chesterfield Canal

  • Restored section, locks at Morse, Stret and Deep and at Shireoaks causing some problems to full beamed craft below water level. Reports on the Beatty's travels "Morse Lock is tight. Stret is better since rebuild, but still very narrow (Beatty had minimal clearance); lower wing walls still very tight (Beatty pinched and had to be flushed in and out). Deep Lock - very narrow (Beatty stuck above waterline, unable to get into lock). Shireoaks Middle Lock also reported to be very tight for full beam boats." 
    Please advise specific locks and actual problems

Droitwich Canal

  • From River Severn, do not try to enter the first lock breasted up.  Princess Anne and Telford reported being wedged in the lockmouth having come down from Stourport.
  • Lock No 1 - CRT report  (Oct 2014) indicates that the upstream approach has a restricted width of 2.14m (7ft 1/4in) due to the steel fenders protecting the brickwork.

Grand Union Canal - Birmingham line

  • Camp Hill top lock. Spey reported being stuck solid at 7' width between the two steel guard bands above the top gate, in the nose of the lock.  BW attended and winched out, measurement indicates ground movement and that point is now under 7' gauge. September 2011.
  • Shrewley, Br 59 reported as only 12' 6" beam due to extra concrete added to towpath edge
  • Blue Lias bridge reported too narrow for breasted pair
  • Fosse bridge reported too narrow for breasted pair

Grand Union Canal - Leicester line

  • Bridge 26 on summit reported to be less than 14ft gauge possibly due to piling in the bridge hole after the towpath was widened.
    Confirmation required of actual beam

Huddersfield Narrow Canal

  • Several locks causing some problems to full beamed craft. Beatty's travels: "approaching from the west, no problems as far as Lock 20W. Uppermill Lock 21W very tight (Beatty only just got through). Lock 22W even narrower (Beatty couldn't get into the chamber)"
    Please advise specific locks and actual problems

Llangollen Canal

  • Hurleston Locks: A variety of different problems reported over the years by different boats in one or other (but not both!) of the bottom two locks at Hurleston. Some Grand Union boats have trouble, others do not. General perception is that things are gradually worsening following droughts, frost etc.  Iain MacTavish, the Club's North Wales and Border area rep, has devised a schematic reporting grid that you can download here and mark where on the brickwork your boat sticks.  Please send reports to him on Thank you!
  • July 2008: report from hotel pair owner that they have had to tirfor and flush in/out of Hurleston bottom lock for the last ten years AND that it is getting more difficult to do so.

Oxford Canal - South

  • Quite a lot of work has been done to some of the worst locks in the last few years and, although some historic boats do still get stuck, members report fewer problems recently ... "Both up and down at the first and second locks at Napton (Nos 8 & 9) the boat didn't hesitate and even the top gate recess at Marston Doles top, which I remember as being tight, was taken cleanly. The BW lock keeper at Napton top advised that the higher the water level in the pound between 8 and 9 the easier it is to work through 9 which he acknowledged is tight for some boats. A couple of bottom gates, Grants and Somerton, wouldn't go right back thanks to rubbish behind them but this was easily resolved." (August 2011)

Older reports:

  • Napton 4 (bottom lock) reported July 08 that little Woolwich and an iron BCN dayboat conversion had problems when they haven't previously
  • Napton No 5 (ie second one up) bulge in wing wall on offside below lock causing some boaters to requre tirfor in and flushing out
  • Marston Doles top lock tight on top gate recess

Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

  • Long standing width problems at Compton Lock & Wightwick (Wightwick Mill?) Lock  
    Current status requested. Anybody got stuck recently?
  • Rodbaston lock near Penkridge. Reported narrow for some craft
    Current status requested. Anybody got stuck recently?

Stratford Upon Avon Canal

  • Long standing problems with width at Wilmcote Locks (Bottom & next to bottom?) Beatty's travels: "several tight locks in the Wilmcote flight. Lock 44 is the tightest (Beatty needed block and tackle in 2009)."
    Current status requested. Anybody got stuck recently?

Rochdale Canal

  • Lock 5 (Edward Kilner), Lock 26 (Pinnel), Lock 34, Lock 40 (Punchbowl), Lock 41 and Lock 47. BW advised boaters on 4 August 2010 that movement over time in the lock walls has resulted in the width not being sufficient for two narrow boats to use the locks breasted without a significant risk of the boats getting hung up on the walls.  This restriction is also signed locally.

Trent & Mersey Canal

  • Cheshire Locks - the older, towpath-side locks are generally narrower than the outer ones, with most problems reported at the tail.  Warning signs are posted on balance beams and at Wheelock.
  • Tail of Weston Lock 4 - too narrow for some GU pairs
  • Tail of Aston Lock 3 - too narrow for some GU pairs

Success Stories

Places where restrictions have been sorted out to allow narrowboats of original full design size to pass through

Lower Avon (Warwickshire)

  • Evesham Lock
    For the first time ever, the Club provided extra funding to improve navigation by its own boats. In this case it was to allow a cill to be modified, as part of rebuilding work, so that full length narrow boats could pass through without having to go down backwards! The modification was made to the top cill; making it vee shaped giving more room for full length boats to get back far enough to open the bottom gates when going down, going up was never a problem.

Ribble Link

  • This new waterway was squeezed through a tortuous route and is built to a broad/double gauge. It was recognised early on that full length broad beam craft would not be able to get through and plans were for the locks to be built correspondingly short. However, following pressure, and cash offers from the Club and others, the locks were built full length so that all narrow boats could access the Lancaster Canal via this route. The locks leading to the Douglas from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal were also shown to be capable of passing narrow boats (but not wide boats) several feet longer than the official gauge of 62 feet. Further improvements could be made there with only minor changes to lock cills and gate angles as part of any future rebuild, or regating, plans.

Oxford Canal - South

  • Claydon middle lock was tight but was rebuilt a few years ago

Trent & Mersey Canal

  • Tail of Stenson Lock 6 used to be too narrow for breasted GU pair. Now renewed and full width restored.

Witham Navigable Drains

  • Cowbridge Lock: Discovered spring 2007 that a full length GU boat could no longer ascend this lock due to 'protective mesh' placed within the guillotine gate. The mesh has been modified and full length GU boats can now pass through again.