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I know there have been other threads asking for predictions about the water levels for this coming season, but! was wondering what those of you who know about theese things think? Perhaps some of you were boating back in 1976 and have an idea of whats coming? We are planning a trip around the Thames Ring, starting from Rugby, down the Grand Union to London (where we will be taking part in the Jubilee Pageant) then back via the Thames and the Oxford Canal. This will be from the last week in may for about 3 weeks. What are the chances that there will resrictions or closures by then?

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I know there have been other threads asking for predictions about the water levels for this coming season, but! was wondering what those of you who know about theese things think? Perhaps some of you were boating back in 1976 and have an idea of whats coming? We are planning a trip around the Thames Ring, starting from Rugby, down the Grand Union to London (where we will be taking part in the Jubilee Pageant) then back via the Thames and the Oxford Canal. This will be from the last week in may for about 3 weeks. What are the chances that there will resrictions or closures by then?

 

Hi,

 

I think the problem with comparing the current situation with 1976 is the big increase in the number of boats since '76' this puts pressure on the system (even with improved back pumping).

 

We shall know about BW proposals for the Tring summit on Saturday (25th), but I suspect low water levels and limited lock operating hours will be the norm.

 

The Oxford summit is well known for problems with water levels, so routes to London will be difficult.

 

Best of Luck, hopefully more news after Saturday.

 

Leo.

Edited by LEO
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Your first problem will be Tring summit - currently closed.

 

As far as previous years are concerned.

 

The worst I recall was '76. The Thames actually stopped flowing and all of the weirs were sandbagged to try to maintain water levels. We didn't venture on to the canals because of the lack of water and I can't recall what the restrictions were like.

 

Navigation on the river Thames was restricted to either full locks or locks every hour if not enough boats turned up in the interim period.

 

The river water was rank! I remember at Abingdon, they had compressed air lines in to the water to try to aerate it and stop the fish from dying

 

It was also bloody hot to B)

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Your first problem will be Tring summit - currently closed.

 

As far as previous years are concerned.

 

The worst I recall was '76. The Thames actually stopped flowing and all of the weirs were sandbagged to try to maintain water levels. We didn't venture on to the canals because of the lack of water and I can't recall what the restrictions were like.

 

Navigation on the river Thames was restricted to either full locks or locks every hour if not enough boats turned up in the interim period.

 

The river water was rank! I remember at Abingdon, they had compressed air lines in to the water to try to aerate it and stop the fish from dying

 

It was also bloody hot to B)

 

 

Ah, that was the year I started narrowboating. Hired from Planet Fleet (?) under Spaghetti Junction (remember them?). Thought that mud and weeds were the norm.....

 

 

 

If anyone has an hour or three have a look here at EAs levels site. Drill down to your chose area and see (pretty well) actual levels from their monitoring equipment This one at Iffley (Oxford) shows the level well down. Should be in the blue area at this time of the year.

 

 

 

It's not alarmist saying that several weeks of continuous moderate to heavy rain is needed to get levels to even a bare minimum.

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We had our honeymoon on a narrowboat from Weedon in 1976.

 

We were planning to go down the Soar but that route was closed so we went up the North Oxford and Coventry instead. I can remember arriving at the top of Atherstone. The locks were only open for, I think, one hour a day - which was enough to allow 8 boats through. We were 20th in the queue so would have had to wait 3 days.

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I think the problem with comparing the current situation with 1976 is the big increase in the number of boats since '76' this puts pressure on the system (even with improved back pumping).

 

I'm not so sure about that. There may well be more boats registered, sitting in marinas, but my feeling is that there aren't more boats on the move than there were 25 years ago.

 

Although in the 70s there were far more small boats, so much more chance of sharing narrow locks than today.

 

David

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The worst I recall was '76. The Thames actually stopped flowing and all of the weirs were sandbagged to try to maintain water levels. We didn't venture on to the canals because of the lack of water and I can't recall what the restrictions were like.

I've read somewhere that there was a scheme to get the Great Ouse flowing backwards. Pumps were installed at each lock/weir to pump the water upstream to get supplies to Milton-Keynes and Bedford. It was all installed and ready to go when the weather broke.

 

MP.

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I've read somewhere that there was a scheme to get the Great Ouse flowing backwards. Pumps were installed at each lock/weir to pump the water upstream to get supplies to Milton-Keynes and Bedford. It was all installed and ready to go when the weather broke.

 

MP.

 

Surely all they had to do was jack up the lower end of the Great Ouse

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I'm not so sure about that. There may well be more boats registered, sitting in marinas, but my feeling is that there aren't more boats on the move than there were 25 years ago.

 

Although in the 70s there were far more small boats, so much more chance of sharing narrow locks than today.

 

David

 

True - in part but in '76 we did not have a large number of marinas in one place as for example round Braunston/Napton.

 

Also with the exception of the National Rally there were not the large boat gatherings such as Braunston Show, Crick Show and Cropredy to name but a few.

 

For a few weeks each year there are a lot of boats on the move, take it from me I see the boats going through at Cowroast.

 

Leo

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Ah, that was the year I started narrowboating. Hired from Planet Fleet (?) under Spaghetti Junction (remember them?). Thought that mud and weeds were the norm.....

 

 

 

If anyone has an hour or three have a look here at EAs levels site. Drill down to your chose area and see (pretty well) actual levels from their monitoring equipment This one at Iffley (Oxford) shows the level well down. Should be in the blue area at this time of the year.

 

 

 

It's not alarmist saying that several weeks of continuous moderate to heavy rain is needed to get levels to even a bare minimum.

EA level don't help with canals, though. For example, the largest reservoir on the Worcester-Birmingham has currently only 11 weeks worth of supply. This time last year the equivalent figure was 35 weeks. Since then we have had the Droitwich Canals opening (and professional lock-keepers replaced by volunteers).

Edited by Giggetty
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  • 3 weeks later...

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