Canal & River Trust announces plans to conserve water on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

20 November 2018

The Canal & River Trust has announced that part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal will be available for use by boaters one day a week after unseasonably dry weather slowed reservoir refill.

With below average rainfall in recent weeks the Trust is restricting use of the locks between Holme Bridge Lock (lock 30) at Gargrave and lock 85 at Wigan to one day a week in order to preserve reservoir holdings ahead of next year’s main boating season.

The openings are intended to allow boats that want to move to do so whilst also protecting the canal from unnecessary water loss through paddles being left open.

From Monday 26 November, until further notice, lock flights at Gargrave, Bank Newton, Greenberfield and Barrowford are due to be opened each Saturday between 9am and 3pm to allow boats to travel along the canal.

Existing water-saving restrictions on locks west of lock 85 will remain in place. The closure does not affect the scheduled winter stoppages at Finsley Gate (Burnley) or Poolstock Lock 2 and Plank Lane on the Leigh Branch.

After an exceptionally dry summer, rainfall in September and October boosted reservoir holdings in the north, enabling canals to reopen to boats. However limited rainfall in the catchments of the reservoirs feeding the canal summit over recent weeks has seen holdings start to decline or stagnate at a time when they would ordinarily be expected to rise. Reservoir refill on the canal is currently below what it was at the same time following the 2010 drought.

Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at the Canal & River Trust said: “After a difficult summer the rainfall in September and early October gave everyone a much-needed boost and it’s been great to see boats out on the water over recent months, enjoying some half term cruising and getting to where they need to be.

“However, with recent recharge of some reservoirs well below what we would normally expect at this time of year – and with no certainty about what the winter weather may bring – it’s sensible to introduce these measures to conserve our water.

“We’ll be opening locks for one day a week, maybe more if there’s the demand, to ensure that those boaters who do want to get around can do so but crucially we want to avoid any unnecessary wastage.The Wigan flight will be open on a Thursday only under the same opening times that are in place at the moment (as below).

8.30am – 10am to facilitate entry on to the flight
12.30pm – 2pm to allow exit off the flight

Johnsons Hillock and Blackburn are available for use without restriction, however we’ll be monitoring their use closely.

“This has been a very challenging year in terms of water resources and we’d like to thank boaters for their patience and understanding in these exceptional circumstances.”

The situation will be monitored on an ongoing basis and is subject to reservoir refill. To get the latest information on opening times go to