One of the items I had put on my list of things to do while in the UK was a visit to Caen Hill Locks. Located just outside the town of Devizes in Wiltshire, this is part of the Kennet and Avon Canal and it is a sequence of locks to get over the hill into the town. When you think when this was constructed and that it was all done by hand, you find it all the more impressive. From the bottom of the hill to the café at the top (where we stopped for lunch), there are 29 locks. Getting through will take a boat a fair amount of time.
Alongside each lock is a large basin. These are blocked off from the boats so I assume their purpose is to provide water capacity to prevent the traffic through the locks causing the water levels to fall too much. There were signs indicating some limitations on lock usage as a result of water shortages. The locks themselves are pretty small and the narrow boats fitted in snugly. Everything is manually operated with the boat owners operating the gates and the valves to release the water.
Walking to the bottom of the hill provided a great view back up at the alignment of the locks. From the bottom, the canal continues across the plain to the west and off towards Bristol. On the day we were there, a few boats were making their way through. Their crews were having a relaxed time and beer seemed to be prevalent! It was interesting to think back to the times when the canals were the motorways of UK commerce and these locks would probably have been quite congested with freight traffic.