The River Trent

Tidal; excitement; timing; making progress


The lockkeeper at Keadby (24 hr notice required for passage) will give you all the advice you need for travelling on this tidal river. You'll invariably be sharing the journey with other boats, some of which have made the passage before. We didn't take any local maps (Sissons charts) but we did have a Nicholsons. We didn't have VHF radio but we did have a mobile phone and the lock keepers numbers. We didn't have life jackets or navigation lights but we did keep the front doors closed and kept to the outside of bends. Basically the lock keeper told us that we were just fine the way we were.

When the deep lock opens and you are let out you are already travelling at 3-4 mph and you just enjoy the ride. We didn't have any problems and found the experience worthwhile. The scenery is most attractive and there are plenty of interesting things to look at. We would have no doubts about doing the journey again. We broke our journey at Torksey lock and arrived at 6.45pm having left Keadby at 2pm. There was a lot of boat shuffling and space on the pontoons was limited though all the narrowboats breasted up. There is plenty of space to walk the dog and good views from the mooring.

As we wanted to catch the neap tide early in the morning we made the decision not to go through the lock. A ten minute walk took us to the White Swan, a friendly local serving good John Smiths Bitter, that had a quiz on the night we were there. We awoke at 5.45am to catch the neap tide to Cromwell Lock. Down here the tide is much less than at Keadby but the lockkeeper told us that fighting the tide could easily add an hour or more onto the journey to Cromwell lock. The journey took us 3 hours. Cromwell is a huge lock, by far the biggest we have ever entered. From here the Trent is non-tidal.

The journey to Newark was pleasant. We moored on the pontoons by the BW offices. A good mooring spot, but be aware that the pontoon has high intensity lighting at night. Newark is a splendid place with an excellent market (we were there on a Monday) and some wonderful pubs. Our favourite was the Fox and Crown serving eight real ales in top condition and good value food (until 8pm). There is a large Waitrose behind the BW offices. The sani station is best accessed from within the lock. Newark the Trent becomes more rural and pretty with woods coming close to the waterway. There are plenty of pubs near the locks but we headed straight for Nottingham. 

Beyond Near the junction with the old Grantham canal you leave the river and head for the double lock (which you work yourself) onto the Nottingham canal. The change to an urban canal is a complete contrast to the river. Everyone seems to moor by Sainsburys, two bridges above Castle lock. There is also a Pizza Hut here. It only takes ten minutes to walk into town. A must visit is the Old Trip to Jerusalem; an ancient inn serving the full range of Hardy & Hansons ales. Highly recommended is the Vat & Fiddle, close to the station on Queensbridge road. This friendly local serves eight real ales, all from interesting independent breweries.

The Bunkers Hill Inn near the Ice stadium serves a magnificent range of ales. The canal passes close to Boots factory and then rejoins the Trent at Beeston Lock which only held a couple of inches of water on our trip. The Trent is very picturesque south of here. There are plenty of signs at the junction with the Soar and Erewash though we did have to dodge a number of light craft who were sailing on this wide stretch of river.