DOWN THE DRAINS

Canal Boat - - The Cruise Guide -

The Witham Nav­i­ga­ble Drains are a cu­ri­ous net­work of wa­ter­ways to the north of the Witham con­structed mainly for land drainage. They ex­tended to some 60 miles, but not all are now ac­ces­si­ble by boat fol­low­ing aban­don­ment of three of the five locks, and var­i­ous low bridges, shal­low lengths and tight turns can im­pede nav­i­ga­tion. There is only one way in and out of the sys­tem, the lock at An­ton’s Gowt.

How­ever it is prac­ti­ca­ble (and the au­thor has done it with no real dif­fi­culty in a full-length deep-draught for­mer work­ing nar­row­boat, al­beit quite some years ago) to use the Drains as an al­ter­na­tive (and more in­ter­est­ing) route into Bos­ton. From An­ton’s Gowt Lock, turn sharp right into the gen­tly me­an­der­ing Frith Bank Drain, lead­ing to Cow­bridge Junc­tion. Turn right here to en­ter the guil­lo­tine gated Cow­bridge Lock, above which the wide and deep Maud Foster Drain makes an at­trac­tive en­try into Bos­ton along­side the im­pres­sive Maud Foster Mill. Be aware that if you go fur­ther than the Mill the bridges get very low, and that there are no of­fi­cial moor­ings – al­though we found some­where to tie up along­side the road which ac­com­pa­nies the Drain.

If you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, re­turn by an al­ter­na­tive route from Cow­bridge, de­tour­ing north along the West Fen Drain via Frithville then turn­ing sharp left and head­ing south down Ne­wham Drain to An­ton’s Gowt. If you want to ex­plore more of the sys­tem, we’d be in­ter­ested to hear how you get on.

Com­plex junc­tion and guil­lo­tine lock at Cow­bridge

Bos­ton’s Maud Foster Mill

An­ton’s Gowt Lock

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