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Fossdyke Canal & River Witham

River Witham and Fossdyke Canal - Moorings, Canalside Pubs, Barge Hire and Canal Holidays. 

The tabs above will give you information you need for the planning of your River Witham and Fossdyke Canal narrowboat holiday, cycle route, towpath walk or favourite fishing spots with the canal guide being printable to use while on your canal adventure. Using information through our River Witham and Fossdyke Canal guide, River Witham and Fossdyke Canal map and photo galleries we can help you find narrowboat hire bases, mooring spots, places to eat at canalside pubs and restaurants, towns, villages and landmarks of interest. Information of all kinds is added all the time so if you can’t find some information at this time be assured that we are working hard to get it on the site as soon as we can.

The Fossdyke is understood to be the oldest navigable man made waterway that is still in use in Britain. Dating back to the Roman times it was originally built as a means of joining the River Trent and River Witham to give the Romans access to the heart of England from the Wash. Often used as a through route rather than a cruising destination in its own right, it is true that the flat landscape and high flood banks that accompany the navigation along much of its course can make the journey seem quite bleak when the weather is unfavourable. That said, the variety of wildlife is impressive, particularly birdlife and the fine city of Lincoln makes it worth stopping for a couple of days to explore its cobbled streets.

Waterways Leisure is a valuable resource for information on canal pubs, barge hire and places to eat and drink. 

Canals and rivers with links to the Fossdyke Canal & River Witham:

River Trent & Beeston Canal

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With canal boat hire bases spread along the River Trent and Fossdyke Canal there is a good choice as to where to start your narrowboat holiday from.

The Following River Witham and Fossdyke Canal Guide is not only a guide for people on narrowboat holidays but is written to be just as handy for activities along the towpath and for people lucky enough to be boat owners with information of attractions, highlights, land marks, mooring spots, marina’s, food shops, canalside pubs and other places to eat in the settlements along the  River Witham and Fossdyke Canal. Both the canal map and canal guide can be printed off by clicking the icon on the right to be taken with you as you enjoy your time on the Canal.

The Fossdyke is understood to be the oldest navigable man made waterway that is still in use in Britain. Dating back to the Roman times it was originally built as a means of joining the River Trent and River Witham to give the Romans access to the heart of England from The Wash

The entrance to the Fossdyke Navigation via the tidal section of the River Trent is through Torksey Lock to the west of Lincoln, it is an 11 mile stretch of mostly arrow straight cruising but the low lying wooded rural serenity is a treat. The lock at Torksey is tidal dependent, only being open a few hours either side of high tide, beyond the lock is an open and tidy area with boating facilities for those who wish to moor up for a while or just to wait for the right tidal conditions to move on, it is pleasant enough here, just try to ignore the nearby power station.

Much of the Fossdyke is surrounded by high flood banks, there are double lower gates on Torksey Lock to prevent flooding from the Trent but the added safety of the high banks for local residents denies boaters far reaching views, the flat relief does give the impression of a big sky which is some consolation.

About five miles downstream from Torksey lies Saxilby, there are pleasant tree lined moorings here just beyond the railway crossing and the crossing of the A57. It is easy enough to seek out a pint and a bite to eat here, many choose to picnic in the shade of a willow adjacent to the moorings.

The Fossdyke heads inexorably into Lincoln parallel to the A57 which, thanks to the high flood banks, is not as intrusive as its proximity dictates. Lincoln greets boaters with views of its impressive cathedral towers atop a wooded hill, the historic core of Lincoln is quirky and well presented, note the Glory Hole Bridge in the shopping section of the city and its adjoining half timbered buildings, very pretty and it couldn’t look more typically English, it serves as Britain’s oldest bridge with buildings on.

The public moorings in Lincoln are adjacent to the university campus and as such are patrolled by security guards on the university payroll, making the moorings as secure as can be, crime isn’t exactly rife here, but maybe they avert the odd crazy student prank. The cathedral section of this small city is fantastic, and with its cobbled twisting streets, old castle ruins, Ellis Mill and museum, many hours can be lost here. The Fossdyke ceases to exist in the middle of Lincoln, at the expansive Brayford Pool onwards we are now cruising on the River Witham, before long the Stamp End Lock needs to be navigated to get us on our way out of Lincoln, the next lock is not for 9 or 10 miles yet.

The next stage of the journey takes the river through ever flatter terrain, with no major roads, railway lines or towns for quite some time it is as peaceful and tranquil as can be found, there are mooring facilities at the small village of Washingborough a few miles downriver from Lincoln. Washingborough has limited shops for re-stocking and a choice of pubs.

There are other villages along this quiet stretch of water such as Greetwell, Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton, all to the north bank and requiring somewhat of a walk to reach. Moorings at Fiskerton Fen Nature Reserve are located about a mile downstream from Five Mile Bridge in a particularly secluded point of the river. As such these are popular moorings but most are here to enjoy the abundant wildlife, the variety and abundance of birdlife here is quite astonishing at times.

There are plentiful moorings and boating facilities a mile or so downstream at Bardney Lock, beyond which is a fairly lengthy backwater which follows the old course of the River Witham, the only restriction on size of craft here is the turning circle in the lake that marks the end of the navigable stretch of backwater.

The river continues southwards with villages becoming seemingly scarcer and smaller, the village of Southrey lays on moorings and there are pubs and limited options for re-stocking. A similar situation awaits in Kirkstead but with the added bonus of having the hotel that housed the Dambusters during World War II located here.

The next moorings and pubs are at Tattershall Bridge about 3 miles downriver, the village of Tattershall is located a mile or so away to the northeast along the very busy A513. The village of Dogdyke a mile or so further downstream is more conveniently located in relation to the river. The moorings at Dogdyke are at the end of the historic airfield of Coningsby which it is worth noting now houses some modern jetfighters whose sudden appearance in the sky and subsequent noise while flying at low levels can be quite a shock, there are older planes still flying though which makes it worth hanging around a while.

Leaving Dogdyke to the right is the locked entrance to the Sleaford Navigation, a four mile stretch is navigable as far as Cobblers Lock. The remaining 10 or so miles to Boston is as empty, quiet and expansive as can be hoped for, there are moorings at Langrick Bridge but perhaps better at Anton’s Gowt on the locked entrance to the Witham Navigable Drains. Although seldom used the navigable drains are restricted to small craft as low bridges and over-grown weeds can make progress difficult compounded with rapid changes to water level. For the more adventurous the Maud Foster Drain provides an alternative route for the final couple of miles into Boston past the quirky five sailed mill alongside the channel.

For the majority who choose to stay on the Witham the seemingly unfinished church spire of St. Botolph’s dominates the skyline of these flat surroundings. There are moorings just above the Grand Sluice Lock that give easy access into the town for what will probably be a much needed re-stocking of supplies and a bite to eat amongst busier surroundings. The Grand Sluice marks the end of the non-tidal section of the Witham. The Black Sluice Lock giving access to the South Forty Foot Drain and the Fens Waterways Link lies just beyond and heading to the west. To the east lies Tabb’s Head and The Wash for larger cruisers. If you're on a narrowboat you could go back and spend a few more days in Lincoln and have couple more days at Fiskerton Fen Nature Reserve and enjoy all the vast peaceful cruising in between.

Waterways Leisure is a valuable resource for information on canal pubs, barge hire and places to eat and drink. In addition we also offer a range of country clothing and country wear and clothing which is suitable to be embroidered with our top embroidery service.