War­wick­shire Wan­der

Canal Boat - - Restoration - TEXT AND PIC­TURES BY MARTIN LUDGATE

Hat­ton Locks might be vig­or­ous ex­er­cise for boaters, but for walk­ers they’re an easy stroll and they make part of an in­ter­est­ing walk through War­wick to Leam­ing­ton Spa

Why is Hat­ton Sta­tion so far from Hat­ton? Sorry to dis­ap­point any fans of old mu­sic-hall jokes, but on this oc­ca­sion, it isn’t “So as to be near the rail­way”. In fact, the rail­way par­al­lels the Grand Union Canal right through Hat­ton and on past War­wick and Leam­ing­ton, giv­ing you plenty of op­tions for canal walks that in­volve catch­ing a train back to the start. But yes, Hat­ton Sta­tion is far enough north-west of the vil­lage to give you a mile’s stroll to break you in gently be­fore the ex­cite­ment of Hat­ton Locks. Be­gin­ning right next to the sta­tion car park at a con­crete canal bridge typ­i­cal of the 1930s im­prove­ment scheme which widened the for­merly nar­row­beam canal, our walk sets out on a gently curv­ing em­bank­ment, lead­ing into a straight cut­ting, at the end of which can be seen the gates of the first lock.

Some boaters may find the thought of 21 broad locks daunt­ing, but for walk­ers it adds in­ter­est – and gives us a chance to spot a few fea­tures that boaters might miss. One thing they cer­tainly won’t miss is the tall, en­closed paddle gear supplied by Messrs Hamm, Baker & Co, and a con­trast to the more tra­di­tional gear. Less im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous but clearly vis­i­ble by each lock are the over­flow weirs con­verted from the old nar­row locks – which had to be kept in use while the new wide locks were be­ing built. That must have been in­ter­est­ing lo­gis­ti­cally – I wonder how it com­pared with the cur­rent mo­tor­way widen­ing and rail­way elec­tri­fi­ca­tion projects?

The tow­path crosses over to the left side op­po­site the Canal & River Trust’s base in the old canal com­pany build­ings, and the next few locks pro­vide fine views down the ‘thick’ of the flight to the dis­tant spire of War­wick Church.

Two thirds of the way down the flight is the de­light­fully named Ugly Bridge (each to their own, but I don’t think it’s too bad look­ing), then the locks be­come more widely spaced out to­wards the bot­tom. You can cross the gates of the bot­tom lock to get to War­wick Park­way sta­tion, the first of three op­tions for a train back to our start­ing point at Hat­ton.

Leav­ing the locks be­hind, the next point of in­ter­est is the junction where the Salt­isford Arm car­ries straight on as a dead end (re­stored by Salt­isford Canal Trust as a canal cen­tre and moor­ings), while the through route of the canal turns sharp left (and a few dents in the con­crete show where the odd boater failed to spot this un­til too late). The story

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