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Witham Navigable Drains

The Witham Navigable Drains are a complex system of drains that connect to the River Witham at Anton’s Gowt Lock. 

Map showing the Witham Navigable Drains

Drains and Locks

The drains are primarily for drainage purposes and are drained down in winter, when navigation is not possible. 

Some of the drains are improved streams, but most are man-made cuts dug to drain the fens.  In the past, these drains were used to transport agricultural produce. 

Anton Gowt’s Lock provides the only access to the Drains, from the River Witham, and Cowbridge Lock provides access to some of the western drains, including Maud Fosters Drain, to access Boston, where there are moorings.  Other locks on the Drains are now derelict: East Fen Lock (accessed the 14-mile Hobhole Drain), Lode Bank Lock (now a pumping station, on Hobhole Drain) and Hagnaby Lock (accessed the northern part of West Fen Catchwater Drain).

Waterway notes

Navigation authority

Witham Fourth District Internal Drainage Board

Useful Info

  • The Navigable Drains primary function is the drainage of the fenland around Boston and are controlled by the Witham Fourth Internal Drainage Board. The Board actively support leisure uses of the system which, subject to prevailing weather conditions, is maintained at a navigable depth from May to September inclusive. It is advisable to notify the Board on 01205 310099 of your presence in the system.
  • The entrance to the Drains is via Anton`s Gowt Lock on the River Witham some three miles from Boston Town. The Lock is maintained by Canal & River Trust and is boater operated. Pontoon moorings are available at the lock entrance and adjacent to the Water Rail Way cycle route from Lincoln to Boston.
  • It is advisable to check the water level gauge on the tail wing wall of the lock, best seen from the road in front of the Malcolm Arms Public House.  All Bridge clearance heights shown on the map relate to ‘0’ on the board.
  • For visitors seeking secure, quiet moorings in Boston town centre, turn right along Frith Bank Drain to Cowbridge Lock.  This Lock is maintained by the Internal Drainage Board and has a guillotine gate, secured by a Canal & River Trust Sanitary Station key and a set of mitre gates.  The gates are not fitted with balance beams due to the close proximity of the golf club access bridge.  This bridge also makes a difficult landing for boaters to operate the lock.  Mooring rings have been fitted under the main B1183 (Pauls) road bridge, for access up the bank to road level to set the lock.  Gates are closed using a boat hook or long shaft and opened by using the fitted chains.  The Drain water level is lower than that of the Maud Foster Drain into Boston. Boats should be secured before water is admitted to the lock.  Before releasing the clutch on the guillotine gate, take a firm grip of the winding handle to prevent kickback.
  • Maud Foster Drain is controlled by the Environment Agency, which has provided moorings for Boston at the ‘Packet Boat steps beyond the windmill.  The street level gate can be opened by a Canal & River Trust Sanitary Station key.

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