The Chesterfield Canal Trust present this information for your guidance, but cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions. If in doubt, please check with the relevant authorities before taking your boat onto the Trent. At all times, follow the advice and instruction of the lock keepers, and be safe!

Click here for stoppages, notices etc. from C&RT.

To buy John Lower’s book about navigating the Trent, click here.

Information for entering and leaving West Stockwith Lock

The river is tidal at the Chesterfield Canal’s junction with the Trent. The following safety rules are strongly recommended:

  • Carry an anchor and cable (chain) of 60ft minimum length, free of obstructions and ready to drop
  • Wear life jackets
  • Take advice on tide and timing of journey
  • Check boat, equipment and adequate fuel before setting out

The tide runs in for only 2¼ hours. This is known as “flood time”. The moment when the outgoing tide turns and becomes incoming is known as flood. Hence the expression “flood at Stockwith is at 10:00 am” means that at 10:00 am the tide starts running in.

After approx. 2¼ hours the tide is high. This is known as “high water”. After about 30 minutes of slack water the tide starts to run out. This is known as the ebb tide. The tide ebbs fopr up to 10 hours then the whole process starts again.

As the tide runs in for such a short time, it means it runs in fast. At some times of the year, it runs in so fast it forms a tidal wave known locally as the Aegre. This can be 6ft high. After it has gone past, travelling up to 15mph, the river is that much higher. Boats taking the Aegre head on in the centre of the river should not have trouble. Avoid the broken water either wide. The general rule for safety is not to be below Gainsborough when the Aegre runs. As to when it runs, ring the lock keeper at West Stockwith for advice and follow it. If you want to work it out, such tides are normally at the spring tides each side of the Spring and Autumn equinoxes. As a rule of thumb, if the published tide table shows a depth of water at Albert Dock, Hull exceeding 8 metres, there is a risk of an Aegre on the Trent (but only really a consideration for navigation below Gainsborough Road Bridge). The height of the tidal wave being roughly the amount by which the predicted tide exceeds 8 metres plus approximately 0.6 metres. Aegres can never accurately be predicted but the risk can be foreseen when the expected height exceeds 8 metres.

By coincidence, the moment when the tide starts to run in or flood at the junction between the canal and the Trent at West Stockwith is the same as high water at Albert Dock, Hull. This is published in the tide tables which are generally available.

Advantage should be taken of the tidal flow to assist your journey. A boat capable of 5 knots in still water will make 9 knots if running with a 4 knot tide (but the opposite is also true!).

Going upstream

  • to Torksey
    Leave the lock about 45 minutes after flood and you will have a strong tide with you all the way, arriving at Torksey Lock before high water there
  • to Cromwell
    Leave Stockwith as soon as possible after flood and whilst there is sufficient water to clear the lock cill. You should then have the tide most of the way. Due to repair and rebuilding work, the depth at the tall cill is some 6 inches less than that indicated by the roman numerals carved on the lock walls.

Going downstream

  • to Keadby
    Leave at any time after high water but preferably between 1 and 4 hours after. You shoud get into Keaby lock at almost any tidal state, but check with the lock keeper beforehand.
  • to the Humber (not canal craft)
    Leave about an hour before high water punching the tide which will eventually turn under you and take you by Trent Falls before there is too little water.

Returning to West Stockwith

  • from Torksey
    Leave any time after high water at Torksey which is about 1½ hours after Stockwith, i.e. about 4 hours after high water at Hull. Note that the latest time for craft drawing over 3ft of water to get back into West Stockwith in average conditions is 8 hours after flood there (i.e. 8 hours after high tide at Hull). Leave it later and you might be stuck outside Stockwith Lock until the tide comes in (which could be nasty if there’s an Aegre that day). Leaving Torksey at high water is the optimum timing.
  • from Cromwell
    Plan your journey to arrive at Torksey to fit in with the above. It is 16 miles, so leave Cromwell about 1 hour before high water at Hull. This brings you to Torksey at about high water there, and you will then have the tide with you for the rest of the run down to Stockwith. This is an advantage since below Torksey the tide runs quite fast.
  • from Keadby
    Leave as soon as the tide starts to flood in and in any event, not later than 30 minutes before high water. It is 13 miles, and this half hour plus the hour later the tide is at Stockwith, plus the half hour of high water slack at Stockwith will together equal about the journey time. Leaving any later would entail punching the ebb.

Entering Stockwith lock

  • when the tide is ebbing
    You can either turn into the tide and steer across it into the lock (not as easy as it sounds) or you do it the easy way. Go past the lock and turn your boat gently ino the ebbing tide. Hold your boat there with the engine in forward gear until the lock is ready. With the gates open, increase engine speed gently and drift across the tideway towards the lock. As you approach the lock entrance, increase yoru speed slightly, and once into the lock, reverse.
  • when the tide is flooding
    As above. This is easier than when the tide is ebbing.

Navigating the Trent

This is not difficult. Keep about three-quarters of the the way across the river to the outside of each bend. Apart from this, treat bridges as follows:

  • Keadby : take the east (Lincolnshire) arch
  • Gainsborough Road : take the centre arch
  • Gainsborough Railway : take the east (Lincolnshire) arch
  • Torksey Railway : take the 2nd arch from the west (Nottinghamshire) side
  • New Dunham Toll : take the east (Lincolnshire) arch