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