Boating is a popular leisure activity in the Trent Vale and a great way to explore its heritage and wildlife.
The River Trent, the Chesterfield Canal and the Fossdyke & Witham Navigation all fall within the Trent Vale area and provide a great heritage and tourism asset for the area with increasing numbers of boaters, walkers, anglers, cyclists and naturalists visiting the area. Though the countryside is often flat, the market towns of Newark and Gainsborough, the historic villages, peaceful countryside and variety of nature reserves adds interest to a Trent Vale cruise.
The majority of the waterways network in the Trent Vale is used for leisure craft, but the Trent Vale is a living, working landscape and freight barges still operate, particularly for the removal of gravel from area. If you would like to find out more about boating in the Trent Vale, where to go and information on moorings visit the British Waterways Waterscape pages for more information.
The River in the Trent Vale is tidal up to Cromwell Lock. Although extra care should be taken when using tidal waters, with good preparation, current charts, correct equipment and adhering to professional advice given, your journey should be pleasant, safe and enjoyable.
Lock Keepers are available to help boaters as well as offer advice, provide tide tables and answer questions about navigation and the surrounding area. Lock keepers are very knowledgeable, with a genuine enthusiasm for the waterways.
If you need accommodation information there are many hotels and guesthouses close to the waterways, which would make a great base for a holiday. To find out more contact the relevant tourist information centre listed below.
Waterscape for all information about boating, moorings holidays and all things waterways related.
Boating highlights in the Trent Vale
The River Trent flows through Farndon an attractive riverside village with a sizeable boat population and a British Waterways moorings pontoon for boaters. The village has two river front pubs and restaurants.
The Trent then flows directly through the centre of the market town of Newark. As you enter Newark the 240 foot spire of the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene will be visible, indicating the centre of the town. The river passes a number of historic buildings that still remain, whose presence are reminders of the importance the River Trent had as a commercial waterway. A warehouse, which now houses a museum and a restaurant, bears the words 'Trent Navigation Company' still visible on the side of the building.
Just beyond is Newark Town lock. This is one of the busiest locks in the East Midlands during the summer months with both boaters and riverside visitors to the area. The old lock is easily identified, located behind the lock keepers cabin. There is pedestrian access across the river at this point for those wishing to explore the other side. You can't fail to miss the remains of the 12th century Newark Castle towering over the navigation. Newark Tourist Information Centre is located next to the castle in the Gilstrap Centre for further information about the town or accommodation advice.
Newark town itself is full of heritage and is a pleasant place to explore with narrow, cobbled streets and interesting buildings with many royal and literary connections. The Market Square, holds lively markets 5 days a week or you could try and catch one of the popular Nottinghamshire Farmers Markets held on the first Wednesday of every month in the Market Place.
Newark riverside has seen extensive regeneration work in recent years and now offers walks along the towpaths for visitors. Following the opening of a new walkway in 2001 walkers are able to walk from the Town Lock area and under the old stone seven arched bridge, passing the Kiln warehouse building now redeveloped as offices. Follow the path onto 'The Kings Marina', and you will notice the old white 'clapper gate' to the right of the path restored by British Waterways recently. These automatically closing gates were used by land owners to keep their livestock within their land boundaries whilst still allowing the riverside path to run though each of the fields that reached as far as the waters edge. Following the opening of the dramatic 'Jubilee Bridge' in 2002 it is now possible to cross the river at this point and return to the Castle along the riverside walk.
Moorings in Newark
There are some visitor moorings at Town Lock, in the shadow of the Castle walls, outside the Kiln warehouse, on the opposite wharf, or in The Kings Marina. Opened in summer of 2001, the marina is a large marina for narrowboats, cruisers, historic vessels and Dutch barges.
Just beyond Newark is Nether Lock, close to the railway lines and the A46 flyover. Under the bridge just past the lock wear marks on the stone are still visible. These were created by ropes when horses were used to pull boats along the river. At the top side of the lock you can also clearly see where the original lock gates used to be.
This lock site is significant, as beyond this point the river becomes tidal as it makes its way out to the sea. For boaters, navigation north of this point requires some preparation to ensure crews are adequately aware of the tidal stretch. Seek advice from the lock keeper and obtain some navigation notes.
Here there are moorings, BBQ and picnic facilities and a good view of the RSBP Langford Lowfields Nature Reserve - one of the largest areas of reedbed in the area.
Cromwell weir passes to the side of the lock protected by a safety boom. This was the site of a tragedy in 1975 when 10 members of the parachute squadron of the Royal Engineers lost their lives whilst taking part in a training exercise. There is a memorial to those that lost their lives near to the lock site.
North of Cromwell
The river north of Cromwell enters a meandering section, mainly agricultural landscape with a view dominated by the power stations.The newly created Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Besthorpe Nature Reserve is worth a visit.
You will pass Sutton On Trent on your left and Girton wharf on your right.
This lock is the gateway to the Fossdyke and Witham Navigation that leads to Lincoln and on to Boston and the Grand Sluice with access to the sea.
Gainsborough and beyond
Steeped in history with an industrial heritage, Gainsborough today is a traditional Lincolnshire market town with busy outdoor markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Some visitor floating moorings were installed at Gainsborough in 2002, these are owned by Gainsborough District Council. The maximum stay on the moorings is 24 hours due to limited space available. Gainsborough Old Hall, the finest example of a Medieval manor house in Britain, is worth a visit.
About five miles downstream of Gainsborough is West Stockwith Lock which is the gateway to the Chesterfield Canal which opened in 1777. The lock at West Stockwith is located at the junction of the River Trent, incorporating West Stockwith basin which is an attractive 'hub' of boat activity offering moorings for over 60 boats.
Look out for the Dutch-gable houses on the far side of the basin, a style of housing found in the area since the 17th century when Dutch engineers drained the marshland in the area.