Double trouble on the Soar

Published: Wednesday, 28 July 2021

THERE is double trouble on the Soar at present, writes Tom Crossley.

A combination of silted-up sections either not allowing gates to close or grounding boats and leaking gates that will not allow lock water to equalise is causing problems to boaters, and can only get worse if allowed to continue.

Recent problems

It was way back in September 1998 that we first cruised the Leicester Section along the Soar, having done so many times since with cruising the Leicester Ring time and time again and trips passing through, in addition to many 'there and back' along the Leicester Section. During those 23 years it was only in recent years under Canal & River Trust we encounted problems, as so many other boaters have told they do too.

The latest stoppage notice tells that it is not possible to equalise the water in Lime Kiln Lock in Abbey Park in Leicester owing to the leakage through the bottom gate, as at Ratcliffe Lock, so the trust is calling it a 'structure failure' and closed the navigation.

RatcliffeGatesYesterday, Tuesday, we cruised up to Ratcliffe Lock taking this photograph that clearly shows the wear of the gates (comparing the distance between the two gates at the top and the bottom) that does not allow water to equalise, due to leakage. Meeting a boater coming back downstream he told he had to tie his boat to the top gate to help two people pull it open so he could get through the lock back to his mooring.


It was at Ratcliffe Lock moorings that we were grounded by silt a few weeks ago, after contractors had supposedly dredged the area as the lock gates would not close. But this failed, it being dredged again, that also failed, it being dredged for the third time.

Last week there was a narrowboat stuck by Bishop Meadow Bridge (52) on the Soar, that though eventually dragged off, acted as a warning to other boaters who quickly turned back.

But the silt is of course still present and deep draughted boats should be wary of the section and of course that at Ratcliffe Lock where the silt is still causing problems as we discovered with a 'near-miss' yesterday, but were prepared!

There is little doubt that there must be both dredging and worn-out gates replaced but no doubt we will be told there is lack of money—it regrettably being spent on so many other things...