The Trent Vale is a mainly arable landscape characterised by the River Trent meandering through it.
The market towns of Gainsborough in the north and Newark in the south represent the major population centres whilst the settlements between tend to be scattered, compact and located on slightly higher ground, reflecting the historic expanse of the Trent's floodplain.
After it becomes tidal, downstream of Cromwell Weir, the river itself is largely hidden by flood embankments.
The landscape contains three operating power stations (West Burton, Cottam and Staythorpe), whilst the five cooling towers of the former High Marnham power station still dominate the landscape. There are numerous sand and gravel quarries, either in restored or working states which which now provide areas of wetland and open water habitats.
Despite this level of industry, the landscape retains its distinctly rural character with hedgerows, the red pantiled roofs of villages and narrow, quiet country lanes which often run down to the river. These lanes led to the once numerous ferry crossings that served to join communities separated by the river. These ferries no longer run and the river is now a major barrier between communities, as there are only three road bridge crossings in Trent Vale, at Newark, Dunham on Trent and Gainsborough.