From Leeds, the Aire & Calder Navigation flows to the tidal River Ouse at Goole, where the docks are a reminder that the canal continues to serve its historic function of transporting freight. Oil, sand and gravel are currently the main freights. Until 2002, the canal was also used to transport coal.
The navigation has been regularly improved and upgraded throughout history. Some of the most famous names in engineering, including Smeaton, Jessop, Rennie and Telford, have left their marks. Though the waterway is usually considered a river navigation, the Ferrybridge-Goole stretch is entirely man-made.