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Northmoor Lock

One of the most remote locks on the Thames, Northmoor is situated near the beautiful Lambourn Downs to the east of the Cotswolds.

Before locks were introduced to Britain in the 1800s, the rivers were 'controlled' by flash weirs and here at Northmoor were two of them - Hart's Weir and Ark Weir. The new lock replaced these long disappeared wooden constructions in 1896 and followed the pattern of heavy wooden beams to manually operate the lock gates.

Northmoor Lock was paid for with money earned from water abstraction. The intention, so the story goes, was to 'encourage' freight on to the Thames that formerly used other waterways. In those days, of course, the river was the main way of carrying goods and the railways had yet to reach here.

This lock is fascinating as it is one of only three with weirs using solely paddles and rymers - an early form of water control. These old wooden constructions are still visible but only from the Thames Path, and the river itself.

A visit to the local pub, The Ferryman, might be in order, especially on sunny weekends because it operates, on and off, a ferry service across the river. Legend says a ferry service has been available here for about 1000 years.

This part of the Thames is where you will see much wildlife, including kestrels, lapwings, buzzards, red kites, and the occasional otter. There are frequent sightings of woodpeckers and kingfishers. The owners of the lock, the Environment Agency, are keen to preserve the natural heritage of the site.

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