River Trent and Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation

The River Trent is a wide commercial waterway, linking the narrow canal network of the English midlands to the North Sea via the River Humber, to a fascinating collection of Yorkshire waterways and navigations via the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation and  to the Lincolnshire waterways and navigable drains via the Fossdyke.

Newark Castle on the River Trent

Newark Castle on the River Trent

The Trent and Mersey Canal joins the River Trent near Shardlow and the river soon passes junctions with the Erewash Canal and the River Soar which connects to the Grand Union Leicester Section and the rest of the waterways network. The non tidal section of the Trent flows for about 40 miles down 13 wide manned locks to Cromwell Lock. All except Cromwell Lock can be self-operated out of hours. At Beeston the route temporarily leaves the river for the Beeston and Nottingham Canals, passing through the interesting city of Nottingham, bypassing the shoals and bridges that make the Trent un-navigable here. This wide cut was always closed to navigation on Sundays by a heavy chain, the Lenton Chain, stretched across the water, to ensure boatmen’s religious well being! Once back on the river Newark is an attractive market town with a castle (ruined by Cromwell) dominating the river.

The semi tidal Trent below Cromwell Lock flows northwards for another 50 miles through Gainsborough to the River Humber at Trent Falls. Cruising here requires a suitably equipped boat with an experienced crew due to tricky tides, shallows and large commercial craft. The Fossdyke Navigation joins at Torksey Lock (useful 24hr moorings), the Chesterfield Canal at West Stockwith and the S&SYN at Keadby.


The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation

The S&SYN leaves the River Trent at Keadby. It was created by a 19th century amalgamation of a number of canals with the intention of upgrading them to allow large craft to link Sheffield, Doncaster and the south Yorkshire coalfield with the North Sea. Trade continued well into the 20th century but after the loss of much of the mining and industrial heritage the area now provides a fascinating collection of surprisingly attractive, uncrowded and interesting wide cruising routes.

The S&SYN includes the Sheffield Canal to Rotherham, the closed Barnsley Canal and sections of the River Don and the Stainforth and Keadby Canal which links to the River Trent at Keadby. In 1905 the New Junction Canal was built which links the S&SYN to the Aire and Calder Navigation at Southfield Junction to bypass the Trent providing quicker access to the North Sea via Goole and the River Ouse.

Approaching Newark Lock on the River Trent

Key Facts

River Trent – Broad river: Wilden Ferry to Gainsborough 67 miles, 13 wide locks, six over 160 feet long Gainsborough to Trent Falls, tidal
Improved: 1772, 1783, 1926 Engineers: Smeaton, Jessop, Whitworth, Rayner

The Fossdyke – Broad navigation – 11 miles, 1 lock.

S & S Y Navigation – Broad canal, 43 miles, 27 locks

New Junction Canal – Broad canal, 5 miles, 1 Lock

The Roman Fossdyke Navigation

The Fossdyke runs for 11 miles across flat farmlands from Torksey lock to Lincoln where it joins the River Witham as it heads to Boston and the Wash or the 40 miles of Witham Navigable Drains.


All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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