Environmental management – guidance

River Thames conditions, closures, restrictions and lock closures

Reach closures, restrictions and lock closures affecting boaters on the River Thames.

River conditions

Find out the latest river conditions and strong stream warnings by:

River restrictions: updated 26 September 2016

When Where What’s happening
Saturday 1 October 2016 from 8:30am to 6pm Teddington Reach Skiff Club annual regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Kingston (right) side of the river.
Saturday 1 October 2016 from 8:30am to 4:30pm Caversham Reach Reading small boats head race: this stretch of the river will be very busy, as Reading Rowing Club will be holding their annual small boats head race.
Monday 10 to Friday 14 October 2016 Osney Railway Bridge Railway bridge repair works: The works will be carried out from a moveable floating pontoon. Headroom available under the bridge will not be affected by the works.

Planned lock closures: updated 17 August 2016

The Environment Agency carries out a programme of works on the River Thames every year between November and Easter. In order to carry out this work, it often needs to close a number of locks for relatively long periods.

The Environment Agency’s programme of work is subject to change, due to weather and other circumstances, often beyond its control. It therefore publishes revised issues of the programme of works throughout the winter, so customers can keep up to date. To receive this information, you can sign up to the email update service by emailing riverthames@environment-agency.gov.uk. You can also check this webpage.

Listed below are the locks that will be closed during the 2016 to 2017 investment programme. The locks will be closed from the first date listed and re-open on the day after the final date.

When Where What’s happening
16 January 2017 to 27 January 2017 Buscot Lock Repairing and making health and safety improvements to lock gate sluices and seals.
9 January 2017 to 24 February 2017 Shifford Lock Re-sheeting lock gates, repairing balance beam and re-fixing rubbing timber.
1 November 2016 to 16 December 2016 King’s Lock Re-sheeting lock gates, repairing balance beam and removing silt from travel lines of the lock gates. Head mooring embankment works and additional revenue moorings.
14 November 2016 to 16 December 2016 Clifton Lock Strengthening works to lock gates.
14 November 2016 to 25 November 2016 Day’s Lock Replacing sluice rod.
1 November 2016 to 16 December 2016 Goring Lock Refurbishing lock chamber walls and replacing of worn rubbing timbers.
1 November 2016 to 10 February 2017 Old Windsor Lock Cut Refurbishment and strengthening of the lock cut bridge by Thames Water.
9 January 2017 to 10 February 2017 Marlow Lock Replacing lock chamber rubbing timbers and re-fixing all grab chains.
1 November 2016 to 16 December 2016 Penton Hook Lock Repairing lock gates.

Keep up to date

Get the latest river information before you go boating. Call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0345 988 1188 and when prompted select option 1 followed by:

  • River conditions and strong stream warnings: 011131
  • Work on the river and lock closures: 011132
  • Events on the river which affect boating: 011133

Find out about call charges.


The Environment Agency sends email updates on River Thames closure and restrictions. To subscribe to this service, email riverthames@environment-agency.gov.uk with ‘subscribe to harbourmaster’s notices’ in the subject line.

Know your river conditions

Any river activity poses a greater risk when there are strong currents, high river levels or cold weather. River flows can increase even during the summer months – never assume sunny weather means the conditions are not hazardous.

Warning boards may be displayed at locks to inform river users of the conditions. Read the explanations of what these mean for you. Don’t take risks and never underestimate the power of the river.

When these red boards are displayed on lock gates, we advise users of all boats not to navigate because the strong flows make it difficult and dangerous.

People in hire boats arriving at a lock where these boards are displayed should stop immediately and contact their hire boat operator to ask for instructions.

Strong stream warning
Strong stream warning

When these yellow boards are displayed on lock gates, we advise users of all unpowered boats not to navigate and users of powered boats to find a safe mooring. This is because river flows are likely to strengthen, and red boards could be displayed very soon and without further warning.

Stream increasing warning
Stream increasing warning

When these yellow boards are displayed on lock gates, we advise users of all unpowered boats not to navigate and users of powered boats to navigate with caution.

Stream decreasing warning
Stream decreasing warning

Dealing with changing river conditions

Read this section carefully to find out what to do if you find yourself in conditions where we advise you to stop navigating. Remember, not all conditions will be serious enough to require all the measures suggested below.

  • Please take the advice to stop. Even the most experienced boater can be caught out, so think about those who could be put in danger if they have to help you.
  • Moor your boat in a safe place, preferably in a marina or at a recognised mooring. Limited space may be available at some locks. Moor against high banks if you can.
  • Ensure your mooring lines are fastened to secure fixings such as bollards, rings or even trees; put out extra lines for additional security and allow enough slack for a further rise in river levels; don’t rely on your own mooring pins or stakes, they might not hold.
  • If possible, put extra fendering (eg scaffold poles or strong timber posts) between your boat and the bank side, to prevent your boat drifting onto the river bank and becoming caught up when levels drop.
  • Make sure you have a safe exit ashore from your boat. If not, you should consider returning home or finding alternative accommodation until conditions improve.
  • If you are running low on essential supplies or have other safety concerns and are not able to vacate your boat safely, treat this as an emergency and dial 999 to ask for evacuation.
  • Those in hire boats: if you are advised to stop navigating, you should stop immediately and contact your hire boat operator and follow their instructions.

Please remember your life is more important than your boat.

The Environment Agency are not an emergency service and are not able to carry out search and rescue, or provide supplies to stranded boats.