We timed our journey from Cropredy to ensure we arrived at Claydon Bottom Lock in time for the daily opening at 1000 and found ourselves third in the queue. Once the lockie had opened up Bottom Lock our passage through the flight was quite quick and uneventful. Before we knew it we were on our way across the summit. This time around, however, there was much more water than when we passed this way heading South making navigating the summit a lot easier and quicker. We pressed on for Marston Doles Top Lock where we moored overnight to be ready for the 1000 opening the next morning finding ourselves second in line. The BW restriction at Marston Doles prohibited boats mooring in the pound between the two locks. A quick survey of the pound provided evidence of why this was so - there was but a shallow dribble of water at the bottom of a muddy ditch! Now that really was low water level. We settled down for the night wondering how the lockie would manage this situation in the morning.
|Waiting at Claydon Bottom Lock|
|Marston Doles Top Lock....|
|Marston Doles pound starts to fill|
It appeared the BW restrictions had the required effect in keeping water levels good enough for cruising albeit only at certain times of the day. There has been plenty of criticism from boaters about these restrictions but, as is always the case, nobody knows how serious the water shortage would have become if BW had taken no action. Let us hope everyone using and maintaining the waterways remembers this summer water shortage and its impact on navigation. BW should take appropriate actions sooner and all boaters should take seriously BW's advice on preserving water levels through sensible lock use.