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River Foss

The River Foss runs through Foss Crooks Woods near Oulston Reservoir and continues South through the Vale of York to the River Ouse near the centre of York. Passage through Castle Mills Lock is managed by our volunteers.

River Foss Map

Nofolk crab boat going through Castle Mills Lock on the River Foss
Nofolk crab boat going through Castle Mills Lock on the River Foss

Facts & Stats

1.3 miles


The length of the River Foss that is navigable

1 lock


The only lock on the Navigation is Castle Mills Lock which is just upstream of the Environment Agency’s flood barrier which protects the Foss from the floodwaters of the Ouse. Book passage through Foss Lock.



The River Foss was historically navigable for nearly 12 miles up to Strensall and had six locks.

From Foss Crooks Woods to York

The River Foss was historically navigable for nearly 12 miles up to Strensall and had six locks.

The Foss Navigation opened in 1796 and was extended in 1804. It was sold to York Corporation in 1852, and all but the last mile and Castle Mills Lock closed in 1859. Rowntrees bought the wharf and warehouse that had originally been part of Leethams Mill at the junction with the Wormalds Cut which was in use until the 1980s, and barges were bringing 200 tonnes of news print per week into York from Goole until 1997.

Book Passage through Castle Mills Lock

Castle Mills Lock on the River Foss in York is operated on request by volunteers from IWA North Riding Branch, as a free service to all boaters.

Book a Passage

To book a passage through Castle Mills Lock, at least two days’ notice is needed. Please note that all passages are subject to water levels in the River Foss.

Phone: 01494 932731
Or email: [email protected]

Navigating the Foss

There is no overnight mooring available on the River Foss, so it is necessary to book both passages. Boaters are requested to pass back down through Castle Mills lock within 2 hours. It is, however, an attractive mile-and-a-half of secluded and interesting waterway for a return trip within the day. Larger boats are advised to turn at Wormalds Cut; a 40’ narrowboat can turn further upstream; or two narrowboats breasted nose-to-tail can use one to drive up and the other to drive back.

Waterway notes

Useful info

Castle Mills Lock is operated by IWA North Riding Branch volunteers. Book your passage

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