I admit to having a fascination with locks. The concept is simple. By coordinating the movement of water into and out of a chamber held between two gates a boat can be lifted unnaturally uphill. It is a modest feat of hydraulic engineering. In practice a lock cycle passes the same way time. Each boat starts and ends in calm water. In between a torrent enters or leaves the lock bringing a boat to the next level. The repetitive cycle should get old but somehow it doesn’t.
On the Thames, the locks are surrounded by well-tended bits of garden space complete with colorful flowerbeds. At each lock there is a keeper’s cottage and a weir nearby to dam the river. Passing through a lock is like a visit to a friendly neighbor’s backyard. Indeed, some locks have tea gardens where you can stop in for a cup of Builder’s before continuing along the river.
Some say that Boveney Lock, just upstream from Windsor, is one of the busiest, most attractive and photographed, locks on the River Thames. Whether Boveney Lock qualifies as “most attractive and photographed” is undoubtedly debatable. Nevertheless, Boveney Lock is pleasant and, for me, like all locks, endlessly fascinating. Boveney Lock is worth a pause whether on a boat or on foot.