DOWN THE DRAINS
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