Canal boat holidays—Trent & Mersey Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Trent & Mersey Canal—Derwent Mouth to Haywood Junction

This Eastern part of the Trent & Mersey Canal, is the home of many hire boat companies, together with many large marinas and therefore seem exceptionally busy for the canal boat hirer.

With so many hire bases, there is a great deal of choice for both an extensive boating holiday or a short break. It is a pleasant canal to cruise and is mostly rural, with two exceptions, the sprawl through Burton-on-Trent, and that through Armitage and Rugeley, the latter being somewhat tricky with its many bridges on bends, as shown above.

However the section from the Trent is very difficult, due to the exceptionally heavy and awkward lock gates of the six broad locks. The bulk of these gates are very badly hung, needing a great deal of strength to both open and particularly to close. The picture clearly shows how the infamous Aston Lock gate is incorrectly hung, needing two men to close it.

An added difficulty is that when taking a boat up through the locks and closing the gates, unless water is allowed into the lock very quickly indeed, the bottom gate(s) will swing open, so will not allow the lock to be filled.

Another problem is that mooring below some of the broad locks is very restricted, only being able to accommodate one or two narrowboats, which is not helped by fierce bywashes, being fed by the Trent at Alrewas. The picture shows how an unused ramp that was built below one lock deprives boaters of half the mooring space. Mooring above the locks though is usually quite extensive.  At the locks there are often bridges over the waterway, giving easy access to both sides.

This part of the canal passes through agricultural land with  attractive wooded sections, and in the first part being a broad canal the bridges are wide, allowing easy passage, but be prepared to meet wide beam boats.

After Willington the canal becomes much easier for boaters as the awkward broad locks are left behind, replaced by narrow locks, the first at Burton thus being a delight. But with the narrow locks come the queues, for though the locks both empty and fill quickly, many newcomers insist upon tying the boat before the lock then even in the lock, Canaltime boaters being the worst offenders being taught to use three ropes!