Lawton Locks

Having recovered from a very busy Crick Boat Show where we met lots of lovely customers, we were ready to set off for our summer cruise this morning.  We’ve travelled a long distance if you add total the up and down movements and the side to side swaying as we stayed on our home mooring at Sherborne Wharf in Birmingham.  With torrential rain and strong winds we weren’t going cruising.

I’m not sure about tomorrow, but we’ll be heading towards Lapworth when the weather improves.  We’re filming the River Nene, the Middle Level Navigations, and the River Great Ouse and tributaries this summer, as well as checking all the information on our maps is up to date.

While moored up I took the time to investigate information sent  a few weeks ago by Brian on Harnser who is one of several kind boaters who contribute updates to my maps.  Brian has identified a former route of the Trent & Mersey Canal at Lawton Locks which I can add to my maps.

Lawton Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal on 1882 OS map.

The current route is clearly shown on this 1882 OS map extract.  An alternative route, passing further north, seems to be identifiable on the map, although the details, such as the lock positions aren’t shown.

Google Maps satellite photo of Lawton Locks on Trent & Mersey Canal.

Google Maps satellite photo suggests the alternative route to the north was there, with the three Lawton Locks visible on the open route.  These were all paired, although the middle lock is no longer paired.

Extract from Waterway Routes Trent & Mersey Canal Map for Lawton Locks.

My maps show winding points above and below Lawton Locks at the points where the routes diverge.  I’d like to add the former route but I’ve been unable to find any further details.

I’m hoping a blog reader will be help me out with a little extra information, particularly:-

  • Is there an old map which shows the former route, particularly the position of the locks?
  • When was the route changed?
  • Why was the route changed?

Any extra information, left as a comment or emailed to, will be greatly appreciated.


After waiting for the extremely wet and windy weather to pass at the start of last week we made our way to Braunston where we spent the weekend, using our Roving Trader Licence.

Trading at Braunston

Early morning saw a quiet towpath while we set up, with lots of people passing later in the day.

Racks of DVDs and Maps ready for trading using our Roving Trader Licence

Sales were quiet, but lots of people took leaflets and stopped for a chat.

We’ll be cruising again tomorrow, heading to Northampton to start filming the River Nene for a new DVD.

Map Updates – Issue 63 – June 2017

I’m pleased to announce the June 2017 updates to my cruising maps are now available.

Extract from Stratford upon Avon Canal Map


As usual, many of the maps have changes this month – those with the most significant changes are:-

You can update your map to the latest version – cost price for the next six issues after purchase, then a small charge after that. You can also upgrade to a larger map. Just email with details of your existing maps for a no obligation quote.

Cruising down the River Nene – 1

We heading downstream on the River Nene, filming for a forthcoming DVD and checking the data for our River Nene maps.

Unusual seat at the bottom of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

After a couple of days rest in Northampton to polish the boat and top up supplies we’re heading downstream on the River Nene.

Guillotine Bottom Gates

Most of the locks have guillotine bottom gates, and all of those were power operated today.  These locks must be left empty, with the bottom guillotine gate raised when boaters leave.  That means we have to close the guillotine gate and fill the lock every time we arrive at one.

Mitred Top Gates, often over-topped with the water.

The locks have conventional mitred top gates and paddles which are manually operated.  Many of them are over-topped with water flowing in which makes them slow to empty.

Old Waterside Warehouses in Wellingborough.

We’ve made it to Wellingborough.  The only other boat here was leaving just as we arrived and we’re on our own in a surprisingly quiet location.

Tomorrow (Saturday), we’re aiming for Thrapston.  I hope there’s room on the limited moorings there.  Sunday should see us a little further downstream, perhaps Fotheringhay.

Please give us a big wave if you see us passing – you might even appear in the River Nene DVD.

Cruising Down the River Nene – 2

Another stunning day of sunshine saw us cruising down the River Nene to Thrapston.

Ditchford Lock's Radial Gate on the River Nene
Ditchford Lock’s Radial Gate on the River Nene.

One of our first challenges was the Radial Gate on Ditchford Lock.  This is power operated, like most of the guillotine gates, so little effort was required.

The Radial Gate at Ditchford Lock on the River Nene.

The gate is pivoted from below, and rotates up and over boats.

Old Station Road Bridge at Irthlingborough.

Looking back at Old Station Road Bridge at Irthlingborough after passing through the narrow navigable arch.

Upper Ringstead Lock’s manual winding wheel.

Challenges for the crew continued with Upper Ringstead’s manually operated guillotine gate which required many turns of the wheel to close it before we could fill the lock, and just as many to open it as we went down.

Woodford Church.

Woodford was just one of many attractive churches we passed along the way.

Moored at Thrapston.

Our travels finished for the day at Thrapston, above Kettering Road Bridge.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we should reach Fotheringhay and, perhaps, Peterborough on Monday.

Cruising Down the River Nene – 3

We’ve continued downstream on the River Nene passing many lovely locations along the way.

River Nene Locks mostly have a guillotine bottom gates and mitred top gates.

The heatwave slowed us down a little but the blue sky and fluffy white cloud was great for filming.

Fotheringhay Church.

We stopped at Fotheringhay where my brother took us out for a lovely meal.  Mobile reception was awful on the mooring, with no reception on EE, O2 or Three, the networks we had available. My brother spotted a helpful sign to shown where to stand for reception.

Where to use your mobile in poor reception areas.

Our journey continued through Peterborough.

Moorings in Peterborough.

And we reached the end of our filming at Dog in a Doublet Lock which grants access to the tidal section.

Dog in a Doublet Lock on the River Nene.

We’re continuing onto the Middle Levels next.

Great Ouse Bore

There are approximately sixty rivers with tidal bores around the world, with eleven in Great Britain, where the River Severn Bore is probably the best known.

The River Great Ouse has a bore, which travels upstream from the wash, through King’s Lynn, and sometimes known as the Wiggenhall Wave after the village it passes near its upper limit.  On large tides it continues as a smaller wave to reach Salters Lode, Denver and sometimes a little beyond.

We were waiting outside Salters Lode Lock for the highest spring tide in this cycle to use its flow to take us up the New Bedford River.  We needed to wait in the safety of the lock mouth until what was left of the bore had passed.  The video footage will be used in some of our DVDs we will be editing next winter, but I’ve extracted three still shots from our Bowcam footage.

Use the bottom tyre near the corner of the mud bank to gauge the water level.

The first shot is taken with the wave just coming into sight.

Waiting for the Great Ouse Bore outside Salters Lode Lock.

The second shot is taken less than a minute later when the main wave of the bore has passed.

Incoming Great Ouse Bore outside Salters Lode Lock.

The third shot is taken less than a minute after that when the secondary wave has passed.

After the Great Ouse Bore has passed Salters Lode Lock.

In less than two minutes we’ve had the excitement of two waves passing and rising around 60cm (that’s two feet) in two great surges as the waves passed.

We’ve completed filming for the New Bedford River and we’ll be returning through Denver to Salters Lode to film the conventional approach to the River Great Ouse with the tidal crossing from Salters Lode to Denver.