River Trent

The mighty River Trent is one of England’s major rivers. It flows through the bustling city of Nottingham, the market town of Newark and the rural Trent Vale.

The Trent Valley Way is a long-distance walking route, following the banks of the river. The scenery is mostly arable farmland, with villages, churches, watermills and old ferry crossings along the way. Newark Castle sits directly on the banks of the river, its high stone walls dropping straight down to the water.

Near Nottingham is the National Watersports Centre, where you can do lots of exciting activities, including canoeing, sailing, water-skiing and rowing. The British Canoe Union is based here. For a more tranquil day out, there is the Attenborough Nature Reserve, a series of lakes that are home to a rich variety of wildlife.

For boaters, the broad and fast-flowing River Trent is a clear contrast to the canals. However, the tidal reaches below Cromwell Lock are only recommended for experienced boaters.

The Canal & River Trust looks after the River Trent from Shardlow, where it becomes navigable, to Gainsborough Bridge.

Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.

The history

Although the River Trent has been the subject of various Acts of Improvement since the 17th century, it has actually been used as a navigation since Roman times.

Running for around 95 miles from Shardlow to Trent Falls, where both it and the River Ouse empty their waters into the River Humber, the Trent is a waterway of substance which still carries a considerable amount of commercial traffic - especially in its lower reaches. Below Cromwell Lock, it becomes tidal and is subject to a periodic tidal bore similar to that seen on the River Severn, but to lesser effect. This is locally known as an 'aegir'.

The Trent links the waterways of the East Midlands with those of Yorkshire, providing access to canals such as the Trent & Mersey, Stainforth & Keadby Canal, Erewash Canal, Grand Union Canal, Grantham Canal, Chesterfield Canal and Fossdyke. It was at one time suitable for navigation as far as Burton-upon-Trent, where a short cut joined it to the Trent & Mersey. However, the section of river from here to Shardlow had become virtually disused by the early 19th century, an early victim of competition from the canal.


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