De Blauwe Kei
The Bocholt – Herentals canal (the Meuse – Scheldt canal in popular speech) 'and its locks.
Seen from Antwerp, lock 1 at Lommel-Blauwe Kei is the last lock on the “Kempens Kanaal’.
Coming from junction of the canal with the “Zuid-Willemsvaart” in Bocholt, it is the first lock to be passed.
From lock 1 the Bocholt-Herentals canal gradually descends from the Kempen plateau to the Belgian northern lowland plain. In Herentals the Bocholt-Herentals canal joins the Albert Canal in the direction of Antwerp and so connects the Antwerp and Limburg Kempen, via the waterway, with the port of Antwerp.
In Bocholt the canal joins the “Zuid-Willemsvaart” which gives connection to the Albert anal in the direction of Liège via Lanaken or Maastricht.
The canal is navigable for barges until approximately 650 tons. Most barges that you come across here are “Kempenaars”. In the direction of Antwerp the canal descends 12,90 m over a distance of less than 2 km via the locks 1,2 and 3.
Barges going in the direction of Antwerp are locked off via these locks, whereas barges going in the Liège direction are raised through.
At the moment there are plans to adapt the canal between Dessel and Bocholt, in order to enable navigation for larger barges. To this purpose a larger new lock for barges of a bigger size and a deeper draught will have to be constructed via a side channel. The actual old complex of locks will be saved as industrial inheritance.