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River Trent

The navigable River Trent runs from Wilden Ferry (Shardlow) to the Yorkshire Ouse and Humber Estuary at Trent Falls.

Map showing the River Trent and surrounding waterways

Facts & Stats

94.8 miles


The length of the River Trent that is navigable.

11 locks

(Counting the two parallel locks at Sawley No 2 Lock as one lock)


Improvements made

The first Act of Parliament was passed to improve this navigation.

From Wilden Ferry to the Yorkshire Ouse

The navigable River Trent runs from Wilden Ferry (Shardlow) to the Yorkshire Ouse and Humber Estuary at Trent Falls.

There are connections to the Trent & Mersey Canal (at Derwent Mouth), the River Soar Navigation (at Trent Junction), the Erewash Canal (also at Trent Junction), the Fossdyke Navigation (at Torksey), the Chesterfield Canal (at West Stockwith), the river Idle (also at West Stockwith) and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation (at Keadby). The river is tidal below Cromwell Lock. The Navigation includes a section of the Nottingham Canal and Beeston Cut.

The Romans used the River Trent for transport and the invading Danes also used the route. In 1699 the first Act of Parliament was passed to improve this navigation, allowing boats to reach Burton-on-Trent. Improvements were then made around Newark to ease access to the town.

[The photo shows Cromwell Lock  –   by Pauline McGill]


Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 79′ 9″ (24.3 metres) – Castle Lock
  • Beam: 15′ 2″ (4.62 metres) – Castle Lock
  • Height: 8′ 0″ (2.44 metres) – Chain Lane / London Road Bridge
  • Draught: 4′ 0″ (1.22 metres) – cill of Castle Lock

Navigation authority


Useful Info

  • The locks below Nottingham are at least 145ft (44m) long and 18ft (5.6m) wide. Watch out for large sand, gravel and oil barges.  The locks are manned at busy times but, can be operated by the user.  There may be separate landing places for commercial & leisure craft.  Entry and exit are controlled by traffic lights as follows:
      • “Red”.  Stop and hold at the jetty. The lock is in use or “closed to traffic”.
      • “Red and Green”.  The lock is being prepared.
      • “Green”.  You may enter the lock.
      • “Amber”.  The lock is not manned. User operation is permitted.
  • Each gate, and its paddles, is controlled from its adjacent console.  They are “powered up” by inserting a Sanitary Station Key.  An interlock prevents miss-operation.  Detailed instructions are displayed at each console.
  • The tidal Trent is not recommended to inexperienced Skippers.  The normal transit for the experienced is between Cromwell Lock and Keadby Lock via Torksey.  Cromwell and Keadby locks are manned during daylight tides.  It is recommended that transit is with the tide.  The majority of skippers opt for a 2-day transit, stopping off in the cut below Torksey Lock.  There are holding pontoons just below the lock.
  • Transit of the Trent below Keadby to its confluence with the Yorkshire Ouse, needs full VHF equipment and clearance from Associated British Ports.

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