account arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right closecontact-us emailFacebookheart instagramjoin linkedin phonepinterestplaysearch twitteryoutube

Wormalds Cut, River Foss

Accessible to all craft kept on the connected inland waterways

Silver Propeller Challenge



Visit Wormalds Cut on the River Foss by boat or canoe.

It has been chosen as a Silver Propeller Location to encourage visiting boats and because navigation is only made possible through IWA volunteers operating Castle Mills Lock on behalf of the navigation authority, City of York Council. A photo of your boat in the vicinity of Wormalds Cut will be a good proof of your visit.

Complete our challenge by visiting 20 locations from our list, you will receive our exclusive plaque and goody bag.


About the River Foss

The source of the River Foss is a spring new Newburgh Prior north of Easingwold.  It is 19½ miles (31km) to the Blue Bridge in York where it joins the River Ouse.  The Foss Navigation Company developed the river from 1793 and made it navigable to the village of Sheriff Hutton with six locks before funds ran out in 1802.  The navigation above Yearsley Bridge was abandoned in 1859 as part of the York Improvement Act.

Barges bringing 200 tonnes of newsprint each week until 1997 to The York Press at Wormalds Cut were the last traffic on the River Foss.  Rowntrees, the confectionary company now part of Nestlé, had water borne deliveries of sugar, gum and chocolate crumb to their wharf until the 1980s.  Castle Mills Lock, named after the water mills in the vicinity of York Castle, is unique both in its unusual gate opening gear, and the fact that it is operated by IWA Volunteers.  City of York Council, the navigation authority, operated the lock for a fee; after local IWA campaigning reached an agreement in 2008, trained IWA volunteers now operate the lock as a free service.  The lock is unsuitable for user operation as the gates are opened and closed with winches and chains; eight chains in total, which cross each other, requiring careful operation.  The Foss Barrier was constructed below Castle Mills Lock to prevent flooding in 1988.  The river is an attractive 1.3 mile of secluded and interesting waterway for a return trip within the day, the limit of navigation is Monk Bridge.

[The photo shows a Nofolk crab boat going through Castle Mills Lock on the River Foss]

Notes for visitors


Postcode: YO10 4FH

What3words /// merit.medium.horses

Boat Dimensions

The maximum size of boat that can navigate the River Foss is:-

Length: 111′ 6″ (34.0m)
Beam: 19′ 8″ (6.0m)
Height: 8′ 10″ (2.40m) – Peasholme & Foss Bank bridges
Draught: 4′ 11″ (1.5m) – Wormalds Cut is shallower

Passage needs to be booked and there is no overnight mooring available on the River Foss.  Contact: [email protected].  Boats are advised to turn at Wormalds Cut but a 40’ narrowboat can turn further upstream.

Canoeing, trip boats and boat hire

Canoeing is encouraged on the River Foss – no licence is required.

Although there are trips boat in York, none venture on the river Foss.

Day Boats can be hired from York Marina.  Self drive boats can also be hired from City Cruises, but the usual maximum hire period is only one hour.

Challenge Location

Wormalds Cut

River Foss

Discover more nearby

Related activities

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.