How to operate Foxton Locks

Foxton Locks

Foxton Locks can be daunting for the novice narrowboater. They are one of the wonders of the canal world, the longest set of staircase locks in Britain and if you hire a holiday boat from Market Harborough, then they are just a couple of hours cruising away.

As daunting as they are, it is worth remembering that these locks are supervised by lock-keepers who will support and advise you as necessary.

Before you operate Foxton Locks, we recommend you watch the Canal and River Trust’s video on general lock operation.

There are two kinds of paddle gear that you will need to wind using your windlass (lock key.)

The first spindle on the first gate (beside Foxton Locks Inn) looks like this:

First lock gate at foxton locks

If the water is at a different level to the water in the main basin, you will need to wind this spindle using your windlass (provided). This will raise the gate paddles, releasing water into the basin and allow you to open the gates. Your boat can then drive in.

From now on at Foxton, you will be operating paddle gear that looks like this:

red paddle gear at foxton locks
white paddle gear at foxton locks
winding the paddle using the windlass at foxton locks

RED before WHITE, you'll be alright!

At each stage, you will be winding up the RED paddle gear first, followed by the WHITE. Wait for the lock to fill and when the water equalises either side of the gate, you will be able to open it and allow your boat to drive through.

You will then lower the paddles again, before closing both gates and repeating the process on the next set of gates. Easy!

Have a look at our video to get a flavour of what’s in store, with grateful thanks to Julie Nottingham from the Canal and River Trust.

Foxton Locks opening times

The locks themselves are only navigable between certain hours, when the Lock Keepers are on hand.

The hours of opening change with the seasons and according to any maintenance work.

Foxton Locks opening times are on Foxton Locks’ own website here.

We are delighted that more and more narrowboat novices are enjoying the canals around Market Harborough. We are putting together a series of Beginner Guides to help you prepare for your holiday and find a few solutions to common problems en route.

It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Canal and River Trust’s Boaters’ Handbook before you arrive.

We offer all kinds of narrowboats, from Day Boats to Boutique Narrowboats and boats suitable for families. All our hires involve full training and we welcome complete beginners.