Canal Holiday Cruising Notes from Sawley Marina


Travelling to the east of Sawley, you can cruise as far as Nottingham. The river is tidal beyond this point and our boats are not equipped for these conditions, nor are we covered by insurance Nottingham city centre is about four hours cruising from Sawley.

canal side lock opening armIt takes less than an hour to get to Trent Lock, where the River Trent meets the River Soar and the Erewash canal.
The Navigation Inn and Steamboat Inn are located canalside, as are the Lockhouse tearooms.

Once through the Cranfleet Lock, you will pass Attenborough Nature Reserve on your left. This consists of 145 hectares of flooded gravel pits and islands, the ideal habitat for a range of birdlife, plants and other wildlife.

Around 90 minutes cruising on the wide River Trent from Cranfleet Lock brings you to Beeston Lock and the entrance to the Trent & Mersey canal section of Beeston Cut.

Watch out for the large arrow signs warning to keep you away from unnavigable sections of the river.

Take care to keep left of the entrance to the Canal, giving the weir to your right a very wide berth. Get through the lock and there are moorings to your left. Once tied up safely, you can walk across the bridge to view the weir and river which sweeps away to the south of the Canal.

There is a bar in the nearby Marina Club, overlooking the river, or a short walk into Beeston will bring you to the ‘Boat and Horses’ in Trent Road (2nd road on the left walking back from the lock, then 1st right).

Another hour and a half or so of cruising will bring you into Nottingham. It is recommended that you moor near Castle Marina for any overnight stays. Make sure that your narrow boat is fully secure before a short walk canalside brings you to the Castle Lock, where you can leave the canal and walk up the hill to the city centre.

Robin Hood Statue Nottingham

Nottingham Centre has many attractions, such as the Castle and museum, the City of Caves, and the Galleries of Justice, all within 10 minutes walking distance of each other:-

Nottingham Castle – A great place for the younger members of the family with interactive displays and especially for the under fives a medieval style playground and picnic area  You could also visit ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’, reputedly the world’s oldest pub!!!

City of Caves – explore the world underneath Nottingham in these man-made caves.  Discover how these caves have been used for centuries by the local people –

The Galleries of Justice – join the crime and punishment tour and witness a trial in the Victorian courtroom.  Experience a Victorian adventure and become one of the children who lived in Narrow Marsh -

Nottingham has been voted one of the best shopping destinations in the country. The city centre is easy to get around on foot and there are numerous restaurants and bars.  Visit the Broadmarsh Centre and the Victoria Centre for a shopping marathon.


This is reached by Cruising East towards Nottingham & then at the very busy Trent Lock, go South on the River Soar.  Please be aware that cruising may be restricted especially in times of flooding or if inclement weather conditions are forecast.

Boaters are reminded that this is basically a River navigation liable to flooding in wet weather. There are red flood warning lights along the River Soar.

Boats negotiating the junction of the rivers Soar & Trent should keep well away from Thrumpton Weir, which is just downstream of the big iron railway bridge.

The River, a tributary of the River Trent, is about 40 miles long and meanders down to Loughborough , with a few villages & pubs on the way.

After 9 miles you will reach  Loughborough, and the Loughborough Navigation becomes the Leicester navigation, and the start of the Grand Union Canal.
The Canal continues on to Mountsorrel, with its nice waterside pub, and then to the large city of Leicester.

Springtime canal sceneThe River Trent to Leicester West Bridge is a 25 mile journey and 25 miles back.

From Leicester down to the Market Harborough Arm is another 18 miles, a total of 43 miles.

That is 86 miles there and back, or about 30+ cruising hours, so you might want to turn around here & head back to Sawley!!!



This is reached by going north from the Trent Lock, and is nearly 12 miles long.  As you enter the Trent lock you will be greeted by a curious selection of house boats. 

Visit The Steamboat Inn set in the idyllic spot beside the Erewash. Boaters, children, walkers and dogs are all welcome and home cooked food is served daily. The northernmost section of the Erewash canal is more isolated than the rest, and is definitely more rural and attractive. Seek advice from the friendly Hire a Canalboat reception staff before heading onto the Erewash as conditions can vary.

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All distances and times are approximate. The timings do not take account of cruising conditions which are variable and be aware delays can and will occur. It is your responsibility to return your holiday narrowboat before or at the time specified in your agreement(s) with the Company.

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Superb Canalboat Holidays on the Trent & Mersey and Llangollen canals