Deep joy! I have stumbled upon some great stats to play with. It’s the CRT Annual Lockage report for 2014. All kinds of great stuff lie therein and some surprising figures. The report lists the number of lock usages at a number of monitored locks throughout the system, so in theory you can work out which locks are likely to be busiest if you are planning a route.
perhaps the first thing to say is that numbers of lockings across the land haven’t changed much in recent years. Last year was up 2% over the previous year but that sort of variation might just be due to weather and the like.
So which is the busiest lock of them all? Well you might be a bit surprised to know it was Cholmondeston Lock on the Middlewich branch of the Shroppie with 8424 lockings. Thinking about it, it is on the four counties ring and close to the ever popular Llangollen canal so that would explain it. Coming a very close second with 8346 was New Marton lock on the LLangollen itself, just on the English side of Chirk.
The bigger surprise to me was third place. Colwich lock on the Trent and Mersey. Here we are right there on Herbie
Yes, this sleepy little lock not far south of Great Haywood had 8239 lockings! Just compare that to a known hotspot like Braunston lock which had 5403 lockings. Admittedly Braunston locks can take two boats at a time, but they don’t always. I’m amazed.
Looking more generally, if you want a quiet time and no queueing, then you should head for the north. Anything north of Chester is very quiet by comparison. The Leeds and Liverpool being not much over a thousand on average and the Lancaster being in the couple of hundred range.
Further south, here’s a list of ones that took my eye.
Atherstone 5151 – that’s quite a lot for what always seems a remote sort of canal (the Coventry), although come to think of it, that lock flight has been busy when we’ve passed through.
The Kennet and Avon varies along its length but averages out at only 2250, so relatively quiet for such a well known route.
The Shroppie is of course busy, but why does Audlem have 4808 and Wheaton Aston have 6236? The Bermuda triangle of the canals?
Closer to Herbie’s mooring at Crick its pretty busy.
Watford locks 4984
Buckby top 4232
That last one is quite a surprise, little ol’ Welford lock down the arm there having over four thousand lockings. Aah maybe it’s because most people go down there for a night, then come back next day, thus doubling the numbers.
Now then here’s a puzzle. If 5403 lockings go on at Braunston and Buckby has 4232, you might conclude that that leaves roughly 1200 locks worth going up the Leicester arm to Watford. Well you could double that ‘cos Watford are single locks so that would make a maximum of 2400 boats, so how come Watford counts 4984? Granted there are a couple of small marinas up there but still its a puzzle which might only be explained by people passing down Watford and then turning round at Norton junction and going back. I can’t think of another reason.
Moving on we take a look at the South Oxford, where Marston Doles lock at the top of the Napton flight was very busy at 6215. Well we all knew that was a popular route didn’t we? Down the Grand Union though, the figures support my long held view that it is an unappreciated delight. Cowroast only registered 2545 (half that of Braunston) and Batchworth down at Ricky gets a score of 2220. People must be mad, its lovely down that way.
As for London, our capital city stuffed with boats, it seems not that many of them are moving. Hawley lock at Camden which on top of normal traffic gets some use by trip boats only manages to register 3052 and Commercial Road lock where you drop down into Limehouse Basin only gets 902. Up the Lee and Stort it’s quiet too. 1942 at Stanstead lock and 2145 at Roydon. These areas are crawling with boats but they ain’t going nowhere.
Now if you want a nice quiet cruise how about these?
Drop down the Northampton arm onto the Nene where Northampton lock only sees 943 movements per annum.
Nip down Farmers Bridge (1558) in the very centre of Birmingham and out down the B’ham and Fazeley via Minworth (1899) or exit Brum down the B’ham and Worcs where Tardebigge gets only 1788. Or like I said, go North.
You can see the whole report Here.