At long last—the Leeds & Liverpool is open!

Published: Thursday, 20 December 2018

TOMORROW, Friday, Canal & River Trust is taking most restrictions off the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

This is the first time the waterway will be open since July when it was closed to boating with all the lock flights chained-up owing to the severe leakage of both locks and pounds and the reservoirs unable to cope.

It all started in March with a leak at Blackburn closing the canal.

bad leakLack of cash

It being so early in the year the reservoirs were then coping, but the lack of cash on its infrastructure was having an effect with swing bridge after swing bridge failing and closing the waterway in addition to lock failures making boating something of an hit and miss endeavour. Then came the major leak in May closing an aqueduct again near Blackburn.

The following month, June, saw yet another major failure, with an unmaintained culvert collapsing and closing the 25 miles long pound into Liverpool for many months. (The photograph of the 'bad leak' is above Skipton, whilst the leaking lock is Gargrave Top Lock.)

Restrictions on six major lock flights

But worse was to come in July for the poor boaters either on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal or those wanting to cruise the waterway—stoppages were placed on the six major lock flights, severely restricting their use.

1w garave top lockBut by now there was little rainfall and the constant leakages from both locks and pounds were having their toll for by the end of July the entire canal was closed with all the flights securely chained-up.

Closed right through August

And so it remained right through the August school holidays and through September, with rainfall enabling a short window during late September, but then the restrictions came back again on November 14th, with Canal & River Trust maintaining that except for another short window at Christmas the canal will be closed until the New Year.

But constant rainfall over the past weeks has filled the reservoirs, and notwithstanding the still constant leakage, the canal will at last be open tomorrow, Friday.

LeakingLLNot fully open

But not fully open, for though the restrictions placed on the lock flights between Wigan to Gargrave will be removed, the Wigan Flight (pictured) will only be open on Thursdays! The flight leaks too much. 

So the Leeds & Liverpool is only fully open one day a week!

One thing though is for sure—for the boaters of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (and many other canals this year) Canal & River Trust is certainly not making life better by water as it so wrongly claims...